Literally, saved her life...
If you do a thing long enough, live long enough, you're going to have one of those moments.
Someone told me long ago that a professional always checks in before the appointment.. It is what I have practiced since day one of my real estate career and brought that into my handyman biz. Last night I touched base with my customer, double checking that we were still on board for her artwork installation.
When I sent her the text she replied quickly!
She said, Yes! I cannot wait! :)
We had already danced around a couple dates and tomorrow was the big day, so I appreciated her excitement.
This morning I had a stack of shit to do. I was already up at 5am taking care of an hour's worth of specialty training, followed by sending an overdue invoice, which I had to organize my receipts in the middle of training - ugh... but got that done.
Chas bought a new coffee press, no more K cups here! lol... so the coffee was exceptional! The burden of the morning, mixed with that dose of coffee.. man?! I was on it!
Still in my skivvies and a hoodie, I needed to pause and get ready. There was an 8am check in meeting I could ot be late for. I still needed to unload the truck from last night's open house as it held 40 open signs, and I needed to load it up with tools for my artwork installation.
The coffee was pouring through me. So much so, with the workload of timely commitments, I could feel I was becoming easily agitated. So, I needed to check that, slow down and get after it. That aside, I could feel I was overly serious...
Today did not feel like Friday to me.. almost had a Tuesday feel. I don't normally wear tools on Friday, so it could have been that.
In short, I was just kinda ugh.
I told my customer last night I would be at her house between 8-9am. Not bad as I checked out of the morning's meeting bout 8:25'ish, filled my water jug, truck is loaded up, I'll be there by 9am no problem.
I clicked on the address within my calendar and to my poor planning! the house was a solid 45 minutes from home?!
WTF I thought?!
So I double backed and checked out the address again - sure'nuff, she sent me the right address. This was on me 100%... Had I slowed down when she sent it to me I would likely have declined the opportunity as it's about 20min further than I can serve effectively.
I already said I would, so there's no taking it back. ~ committed.
Considering the morning I needed a nice long drive to myself anyway. I texted her letting her know I didn't manage my time well and failed to realize I was so far away. I told her I'd be there by 930. I ended it saying, "will that be acceptable?".
I did get the okay last night, so I sent her another text with a picture of me and my truck and said I'll see you soon.
*super professionals send pictures of themselves to customers before meeting them for the first time.
**plus I like flexing on my truck too lol!
I kept checking my phone for about 25 of the 45 minutes seeing if she replied. Quietly inside I was totally okay with her saying we needed to cancel.
I plugged in my earbuds and listened to a 33 minute long inspirational .mp4 I ripped off from youtube. I felt shitty and knew that whatever it was I was fussing with inside my self-talk, the energy/spirituality of what I was plugged into would help me.
It was an unseasonably cold drive in. Almost contemplated the heater as I drove the 45min with earbuds in and the windows down... the motivational sermon stopped just as I pulled off the exit.
For all my experience, my real estate life, handyman life, I had never been this far out in the west valley .. like who/what lives out here?!
I pulled up to the gate and the guard told me to drive about 1.5 miles further and turn right at the roundabout.
This place was goeorius!
It took me back to my early years of water feature building. I felt like I was deep into the hills of North Scottsdale! For 1.5 miles, I contended with golf cart traffic, surrounded by more west valley hills than I've ever seen. The golf course was beautifully carved right out of the desert. It closely resembled country club golf courses seen in Fountain Hills, but there were no houses to be seen.
The whole time I'm driving my head is going all over the place. Like, dude! this is out here?!.. I wonder who I'm going to meet, I thought?... my mind started to wander of past experiences of unique opportunity. I thought of the self made millionaire who talked to me about the Chicken Coop.. I seriously wondered about the significance of my trip.
After I hit the roundabout, I drove about 5 min further and then started to see houses. These were legit, custom, high dollar houses... I've been in classy neighborhoods before, but none like this for handyman work.
The map took me right to the house. No space for parking, so I pulled up to the house through the long paved driveway, hoping I was at the right house.
I squeezed past a red four door Ford truck and let the truck idle for a minute.
Fuck man... this is a hell of a place!
I put the sunshade up, still letting the truck run, sitting there thinking, do I, don't I present a business card & brag card to the customer?? I mean hell, this is very far away, do I want to do more business out here?...
I surmised that a professional doesn't show up to such a place without being professionally prepared. I turned the truck off and grabbed my cards.
It was a single story home designed to blend into the desert landscape that had a long pavered driveway up to the house. There were huge glass windows that reflected my prense like large mirrors. The double car garage door was made of 6" wood slats. It looked like it was pieced together with wood pieces. Hella classy!
The front door entry wasn't massive, but it was impressionable. There was another door off to the left that went to a casita. They had similar copper screen doors that were sold as a matching set. Ring cameras were on all the corners of the house, but no ring doorbell.
All good... I rang the doorbell and patiently waited.
The sound of the dingdong was as if the front door may have been open, but it surely was not.
Maybe a full minute went by, still no answer.
So I rang again.
I felt odd just standing there staring at my reflection.
Again, another minute went by... no answer
My head starts going back to the text messages, is this why she didn't answer?
Hmm... so I ponder back to my truck to give space entertaining the idea of driving back home.
I meander back to the doorbell again and ring it for a third time.
In about half the time between the waits, I could hear someone approach the door.
The door opens and I am greeted by a middle aged woman still in her robe. Her blonde hair was stuck to her face like she was hard asleep and I just woke her up. One legging was down, the other was up near her knee and wore slippers. Her face was puffy and she appeared to look like a rock star's wife after a party. She was tall for a lady, but frail and gangly. I could tell right away she wasn't having a good day.
I introduced myself and she had little to no response to my apologies for being tardy... as if she wasn't all there or something.
She welcomed me inside.
The house was bigger inside than out. It was a multi level with a handful of 4" stairs that took you up and down the elevation of the home. It was creatively designed with endless glass windows that brought in the desert hilly scenery inside like a beachfront house would the ocean.
Another fascinating detail is that the home had a certain smell to it. It wasn't bad at all. It was one that I have only ever smelled while being in very high dollar houses. I can recall it instantly from my years past with the huge custom water features I had built. I can watch TV shows and see people in their homes and almost know exactly what it smells like. Much like a good realtor can see a vacant home and say exactly that... It smelled like a vacant home. ooooo... I know what you're talking about.
At any rate, the smell took me back 15 years into my past of all the luxury houses.
I could tell right away that she wasn't all there. There was a vibe of intoxication. She said that she's not had artwork installed and did not know what or where to direct me. I said how bout you take me to the art and show me what and where things go. I've got all the tools and hardware, and I know how and what to mount them.. so let's go :)
She led me to the back room, which was just down the hall. The front office was right out of Young and the Restless. Glamour and high dollar stuff at every turn. It was kinda overwhelming really. As I followed behind her I could see her wander and stumble, periodically bumping into the walls while holding a conversation mixed with confusion.
I let her point and direct me where things went. Although clearly hammered, she conducted herself in a controlled manner. We went from one room to the next having to pass through the kitchen area.
There, to my validated assumption, we walk right past an open bottle of vodka. The cork of the bottle rests about two feet from the bottle amongst other stuff. Not messy by no means, but there was definitely bottle hitting going on.
I wasn't there to judge, shit, I hammer the bottle too, and! it was her house too. But something was really off today. I had a weird feeling I just couldn't get past. I didn't feel threatened or vulnerable, however, I did feel something.
She ended the direction by saying just come and go as you need, holler when you need something. I collected my bearings then asked if I could use the bathroom. She pointed and I headed that way.
The whole time I'm thinking, if there was a time to stop, regroup, and leave, now was the time.
After I washed my hands I walked up the small travertine steps, and asked her if today was still okay to do this? I said that I'm happy to come back a different day if that suits you.. it's truly no bother.
She heard me, however said it wasn't an issue and asked that I continue.
I was on high alert. Something was off.
Off in the backroom I was organizing the art to distribute through the home. Just beside me, two high dollar Rolex watches lay inside a case as the case spun around in circles. So much of me wanted to take a picture... but that's not how a hired guest operates inside their customers home. I chalked it up to the neat experience of it all.
The first piece of art I was installing was a nice, big ass mirror that went right behind the front door. As expected, customary conversations about life and what not would take place. It wasn't long before she started to repeat herself either in story, or in questions. So far as to ask if I was a handyman?
One moment she complimented my work pants and talked about them. It was kinda flattering really as I could see this as a scene right out of Desperate Housewives... I knew Chas would eat this story up! lol
I stayed foucessed while being respectful in conversation. My phone rang and I asked to step outside. Once back in, she had found her way back into her bedroom. I took care of the remaining artwork and then proceeded to her bedroom where that was the last bit of art I needed to install.
I could hear mumbling and random bits of what sounded like a conversation. With artwork in hand, I paused and gave it a minute. I gently knocked on the already open door and announced her name. She did not answer right away.
I stepped in and could see that she was faded and passed out on the bed..
the spider senses were tingling!
I announced louder and she said I could continue into the master bathroom to install that artwork. All that was left was the art above the bed.
While in the bathroom I was in complete ear shot of what was happening; I had to stop and listen in because I couldn't tell if she was talking to me, or was on the phone.
She continued to mumble and fuss in her sleep. Fuck you... fuck,.... asshole... mmmmhmm...
Man it was hella unsettling.
My last piece of art was a heavy metal mirror. Damn nice mirror. I was installing it in a bump out area where one would put on their shoes. The opposite wall had four floating shelves that showcased multiple Gucci handbags and shoes. It was a total trophy case on display. I was taken back to it really... my frugal blue collar ass pondered the value of the products...
For me, to be able to serve someone in their home, to witness their trophies of success, or stuff, whatever, I always chalk it up to being privileged/honored to be asked to help them make their place better.
I knew she was fast asleep and hoped that I didn't need to use special anchors that required a hammer. So I attempted using my #30lb bear claw anchors, but once I held that heavy ass mirror in hand, it just didn't feel right. So I adjusted and went to the truck to grab the hammer and installed the #50lb anchors.
I walked by her derailed body laying deep into that bed. You could tell she was knocked out in some capacity... :( I did feel bad honestly. I came back with the hammer. I set up the holes, reluctantly pounded them in the wall, fearing I'd startle her, and hung the mirror.
All the while she continued to lay there and mumble still.
I collected my tools and approached the room. There she laid oblivious to what's going on. Her posture reminded me of a homeless person laying on the street, but she was in her own bed. to my left, another multi watch case holding countless time pieces.
I stared at her contemplating whether to wake her up or not.
Should I just be respectful and let her sleep?
Would it be rude if I just slipped out and didn't disturb her?
I gave it a minute and announced her name gently, but loud enough to wake her.
I said I've just got these two left and you can relax for the rest of your day. She heard me and rolled over. She twisted her body over and up, then proceeded to try and get out of bed. It was like watching an old dog get up from the ground... it was sad to watch, so I turned away to give that vulnerable embarrassing situation rightful privacy.
As soon as she was up, I could hear her bonk into the wall as she gained her footing. I grabbed the booties from my back pocket, dusted them off and slipped them on. Just as I approached the bed I heard a crash.
Like a body hitting a solid floor crash..
I gave it a brief moment so that I would not over react...
I still heard nothing.
I put my tape measure back on my right pocket and stepped out of the room into the kitchen.
To my horrifying surprise, there lay a lifeless body, face down on the ground.
In a calm, but quick action I approached her and put my hand on her back announcing her name.
There she lay on her stomach, feet pigeon toed into each other. Her right hand, bent at the wrist, placed vertically against the wall as if to have used her hand on the wall as she slipped down it. Her face is facing the kitchen while her arm is naturally bent, having her hand palm down near her face.
As I peered over her lifeless body in a controlled shock, her eyes were open still.
Did this really happen?
With a loud voice and a touch to her back I leaned over and said her name while rubbing her back. Her eyes blinked slowly and I could feel that she was breathing.
Holy fuck man!
No notice of blood either.. okay!
I continued to rub her back talking to her.
Are you okay?
How are you doing?
Can you hear me?
I didn't know what the hell to do beyond just keep talking.
I could hear her mumble and engage with mild understanding.
Looking at the situation further there was no bang, ding or dent along the corner of the wall.. so that told me she did not collide with the 2" conerbead. She likely went head first onto the tile.
I asked her, do you just need to lay here for a bit?
I mean, I've been ripped where I just liked the cold ground.
She mumbled a yes as I continued to pat her back and keep her engaged.
I said, I need to sit you up, okay?
I grabbed her some, but she was lifeless.
I told her again, I need to sit you up okay... is that okay?
I need some sort of okay, I didn't want to startel her in the manner in which I needed to help her.
Her face was still on the ground, cheeks puffy as she muttered a noticeable okay.
I held her by her armpits and proceeded to pick her up. Her tiny ass body folded on itself as I easily lifted her. Her head dropped with no support and slid down my left arm.
It was wet with blood.
Up until this moment of my life, I never had someone else's blood on me beyond my kids. I know our first responders and military do this. As an untrained civilian, this was real.
As soon as I had her up on her butt, trying to lean her against the wall, it was obvious she wouldn't stay there. She was doubled over, lifeless. The blood on my arm was noticeably cold. There was a small pool of it from where she laid. I quickly adjusted and said I'm going to lay you back down now, okay?
She had nothing to contribute. I handled the situation and placed her back down. By now she had put her hand underneath her head and face, like a small child would when going to bed.
I took a moment and said I need to make a quick call, okay?
Before I did, texted Chas saying:
Do not call me. 911 is on the way.
I left her there as I rushed outside to get cell service.
This was REALLY happening!
I've never called 911 - ever!
But head injury, blood, this was the time to call.
My heart was beating hard. I was so distracted when I got there, I never brought in my water. The only thing I had to drink was two cups of strong coffee and a gulp of water when I took my morning vitamins.
I was hella dry mouthed along with the anxious shakes.
I dialed 911...
Fuck! shit for service!
Call was dropped!
Wait, what? 18% battery life too?!
Okay! run to the neighbor's house. In this area, it's not like they are close, so it was a quick 40yard run or so. Rang that doorbell....
weird?! it's just as loud as my customer's.. like the door was open?!!? but it wasn't.
I hung out as long as I could, I said Fuck it, lets try this again.
Battery at 16% now, service clicks over, 911 can I please have your address.
There I stood in the middle of the street, dry mouthed, heart racing in anxiety and in a sprint, tape measure on my right, artwork install belt on, yet I was calmly controlled as I answered the operator's questions.
Although it was unseasonably cool out, my black phone soaked up the sun and was heating up. I could feel the stickiness of the blood on my wrist as my watch couldn't casually twist.
The response was, "boy, you're out there, I can't get anyone out there for about 30min or so." I said I'll be here. They suggested I get something on the bleeding to stop it. I said, you got it.
I hopped, skipped to the truck. Detached my belt, grabbed my water, and charger. I was at about 14% battery now.
I came inside and called her name. I checked in on her, unplugged the airwick in the wall, plugged in my phone charger, took my watch off and washed my arm.
I kept talking to her while this took place. I slowed my breathing down, grabbed my jug of water and sat cross legged on the ground next to her and talked.
While sitting there, I was like, shit?! I should take my phone off do not disturb... so I got back up turned it off.
Sure nuff, that fucker rang three different times!
I was checking the caller ID as I was sure that if it was Medical, it'd say something like that on the ID... surenuff, it was them. I unplugged and walked to the front door to keep talking while answering their questions.
He asked her if she needed to go to the hospital. By now she was coming to and was able to talk loud and clear. She was absolute that she didn't need to go to the hospital. The caller could hear this entire conversation shake out. He was connecting the dots that I was answering in a way for him to know what I needed them to do. While she continued to state she didn't need it, he said to me, do we need to bring medical? I said yes.
He said they're still a ways out. I said I got it from here.
We hung up, and I sat on the ground next to her.
Now she lay in a light fetal position. I grabbed a towel from the bathroom and folded it like a pillow for her. She continued to lay there on her side putting pressure down on the wound.
All I could think about doing was just talking to her. Asking random questions about life and such. She told me that she's scared, married to a narsisits, and would off an on say fuck you. This was in a way that I needed to re-evaluate if she was really talking to me... which she wasn't. It was about her situation.
She apologized over and over. I told her that it's totally fine and that I'm here as long as needed. She asked why I was so nice?... I just had to roll with it while trying to calm her down. In an effort to not over talk about why she was in such rough shape, I tried to change the subject. I opened up my left arm and showed her my grateful tattoo. I said that I don't need this tattoo, but I want it here so that when I'm down, sad, uncomfortable, that I can look at it and it grounds me. It allows me to focus on what's important. She was emotionally moved.
I asked her if she believed that people are supposed to meet people for a reason? With a teary eyed spitty mouth she said yes. I told her that when I got here I felt like I was supposed to be here. And I'm so happy I was.
by now she was more coherent, but much more emotional and clearly embarrassed.
I told her that I am so happy I was here today because I don't know what you would have done if this happened and nobody was here to help you.
I continued to say that it was okay throughout our 30/45min conversation.
She would periodically roll over / away while crying, twisting her head. I asked that she stay in the same spot. By now the blonde hair was matted and pink. The towel helped stop the bleeding.
There were two times where she said "I've never told anyone this before" ... she said that repeatedly, but apart, but struggled to have the courage or nerve to complete the statement. I could see that it took a lot for her to open up about whatever it was she was getting at, but I could tell it was heavy, and instead, told her that it was okay and we don't need to say anything. We can just be here.
As soon as she started to deepen in conversation I could hear what sounded like a diesel truck. It was distracting to the both of us. At one point I said I need to check outside real quick, they hadn't arrived yet. Maybe they drove down the road too far.
About 3 minutes after that, I heard a "hello"
She kind of popped up in panic saying "who's that? who's here"
I told her that people are here to help you.
The fire department came in. As soon as she saw them she had a look of "why did you do this"... I knew why I did, but it felt the embarrassed look of betrayal.. I felt really bad for her, but someone needed to make a difficult call. No one wants the neighbors to see the fire truck out front of your house... but this felt like the right call.
Once inside, the fire department assessed the situation and of course, had to ask me questions about this and that. Again, smooth as ever, I had non fumbled controlled conversation with them. They asked her a battery of questions, all of which led them to the same conclusion I did.... that she needed to go to the hospital.
She was adamant about not going. I can call my sister, my mom. They're just down the road. You could tell it was a stretch to keep herself at home. They said, who's going to stitch you up? I can't tell how bad the cut is, but it's bad. If you're not looked after, you could not wake up because you had a serious head injury.
While they tended to her, I put the un-hung artwork back and picked up all my tools. I didn't need to be over her shoulder while they asked such things to her.
They asked for her ID and asked for her phone. I had only been there since 930, but I had the lay of the land. I was able to direct them to each location to help her. They gave her her phone. By now she was sitting on the kitchen chair connected to their blood pressure instruments and such. She called on speaker and I heard it ring and ring then went to voicemail.
Fuck my heart hurt for her. Regardless of her sitatuon as to why she was there, fuck man, seeing her bent over ugly cry that soemone didnt anwer the phone... ugh?! ...
While she collected herself, there was another fireman there by her side. I am in the kitchen staying back, watching this unfold... ultimately qualifying the situation.. how did I do? What does a pro do in this situation?
The man stands next to her, hand on her shoulder saying the exact same words I was doing. She would look up at me and say that she was sorry...
I got a knot in my throat right now..
The other group of firemen came to her and said with what she's gone through today, they legally have to take her to the hospital. Left untreated, you could die, they said. So we called our on-call doctor and they are instructing us to bring you in.
Shortly afterwards, the paramedics showed up and firmly encouraged her to go. She put up a conversational fight but left.
After she left the house, I said to the paramedics....
"so.... this isn't something that I'm used to doing... do you guys need anything else from me?"
They said no they didn't and went on their way.
It was quiet in the kitchen now. Despite the beautiful desert scenery, the glass walls brought it in, but kept the pain inside, out of view.
There now in the corner of the kitchen, her blood pools and smears lay. The water bottle resting perfectly like a young kid bottle-flipped it perfectly. Around the scene are leftover peeled stickies from the probe-feeds they needed to connect here with.
I was the last person to leave the house today.
As I followed behind the team of first responders, I picked up the last bag of trash and as I was heading out, the medic incharge asked for her handbag. I led him to it and he took it out with them. Just as he was getting ready to leave, he turned to me and said, it's a really good thing you called us, thanked me, and left.
I stood there in the doorway, rolling up the bag of trash as they stretchered out a very frustrated and emotional patient. I waited until they were away, headed down the pavered driveway before I shut the door.
I took my tools and put them back in their places, closed the truck door, and leaned over the bed of my truck, collecting myself.
I could feel the wave of emotional let down rolling in as I focused on my breathing.
In a few short minutes, they were gone.
I stayed there in the solace of the moment. The buzzing of the summer desert coming to life, no sound of the engines running. Just distant birds and the sound of a "tink" as someone teed off in the golf course.
I am smoked....
Thank you... If I did not get that out of my head, I would not be able to help my boys at football practice... which I am 30min late for.
There's a lot to be grateful for this Friday.