Long before the Homebuilding Collapse of ’07 I toiled in the Land & Development section of Beazer Homes, Raleigh. Our team was built around Sara, a world-class admin, who among other things excelled at covering for whichever of the boys were out-of-pocket, as in shooting pool or watching March Madness in some smoky bar. Mitch, our captain, did most of the land acquisition and zoning work. George (a/k/a ‘Number One’ for his unflappable self-esteem) coordinated much of the work of the various sub-contractors who cleared and graded raw land, and then installed sewer, storm drains, and water lines. Jeff performed Number One’s duties on several developments as well as being our in-house street specialist. For his paving work, Number One nicknamed Jeff ‘Mr. Asphalt’ (“You are an ass, and everything’s your fault”). In a couple of ways Jeff reminds me of fictional CIA hit man Mr. Reese on CBS’s Person of Interest – he’s fluent in martial arts, is the master of all kinds of firearms, and has had more than his share of orthopedic wear and tear. I’ve just never seen Jeff in a tailored suit.
Good ol’ Larry smoothed out trouble with city inspectors and supervised sidewalk pouring. I was their humble bean-counter whose job began with keeping track of lot counts (buildable and otherwise), total and expected future costs, and costing per lot.
Ten years later Sara still sends birthday reminders to her boys. This week she sent one out to us on Mitch. It read like this: “It’s your birthday and your old friends sent you a cake to celebrate (a cartoon e-image of birthday cake, a baked avatar?). Blow out the candles and let’s all eat cake!”
I used to hate my birthdays, so I usually wish Mitch well a couple of months later, after the pain of seeing that odometer roll over has worn off. This time The Captain replied to Sara before I even read her reminder. His words: “I woke up this morning walking like Jeff” (his orthopedic damage must have worsened) “and looking like Jackson. Somebody just shoot me! Thanks guys. The Birthday Boy”
Ain’t nobody gonna mistake Mitch for George F. Clooney. Still, I take solace in The Captain’s first words when Number One brought his month-old second son to our office. “I hate to tell you this George, but he looks like Jackson.”
We lost Larry three years ago, and with him we lost an endless string of internet funnies. So I’m posting Larry’s video of a young Jack Nicholson when JN worked in fast food between bit parts.
I’m also going to congratulate Mitch on keeping his joie de vivre and sense of humor (“We care, until the close”) despite hip and knee replacements (too much tennis, running, and rugby). And I’ll bring him up to date on our travels and life after the French Quarter bar business. Here’s some 2015 memories.
And I will ask Mitch if he’s a Trump guy, and either way, point out that The Donald is wrong about that immigrant work ethic. This picture proves it.