Wednesday, April 15, 2015

It Pays To Be Nice To Rich People

We didn’t move out here to experience more stress. Of course, the mere adjusting to a very different lifestyle has been stressful, but beyond that, we expected that we’d have amiable neighbors that we could talk to on a regular basis and we wouldn’t be caught in any neighborly crossfire, so to speak.


I am changing names to protect the guilty. But before I go on, I need to paint a picture of how several of the properties around here border each other.

Property boundaries

Our property is a little over five acres, about 600 feet long on the north and south sides. The south border extends along the gravel road going through our mountain development. At the west end of our property, the gravel road takes a ninety-degree turn up the mountain. On the east side of the road just after the turn is a property a guy named Leonard owns. He also owns a few feet on the other side of the road where it turns, right next to the small piece of land that is ours across the road where the it turns.

Leonard does not live here, and I have only seen him once since we moved over a year ago.

A local guy named Roland owns some of the land adjacent to our property at the northwest corner. He does not live on the property either, but harvests large rocks to sell to people who want them to resell to people who want them for landscaping purposes.

I guess.

Anyway, our properties are back to back for several feet going north-south. Where Roland’s property stops, say twenty feet south down the west side of our property, Seok Forest begins (I’m making up the name “Seok Forest”, too).

Seok Forest is owned by a super-rich – we’re talking somebody worth tens of millions of dollars – businessman who lives in Texas. We’ll call him Texan. He leases several hundred of the several thousand of acres he owns (right next door to us!) to local hunters during the two main hunting seasons around here, turkey and deer. He’s hired a local property manager named Pete to oversee the maintenance of the roads that go through the land for the convenience of the hunters. The road maintenance crew consists, as far as we know, of two guys, one of whom operates a bulldozer, another a track hoe.

The drama

The dilemma has been that Seok Forest cannot be accessed without going through – just a tiny bit – of somebody else’s property. For a while, Pete was having his guy go through this little road that Roland was convinced was his property, even though the official survey says different. The little road is on our property. But Roland gave Pete such a big headache about it, that Pete decided he didn’t want to deal with it for a while. He just wanted to get on the property and do the work he was supposed to do.

So Pete had his guys go through the ten feet or so of Leonard’s property. Apparently one of our neighbors – we’ll call him Jed – down close to the state highway has made himself the sheriff of the mountain, and told Leonard about what the Texan’s hired men were doing. They set up a blockade where the road guys had made a little road.

Please remember that Leonard is hardly ever here, and the little road truly only went over a few feet of his property that he has done absolutely nothing with, and probably never will because it’s such a small strip.

I started to get the feeling that there is a distinct prejudice against wealthy people around here. Which is rather dismaying since Jerry and I aren’t so poor ourselves.

On the other hand, Pete was going through other people’s property without asking for permission first. Bad on him.

Then again, he’s an experienced property manager. Maybe he’s dealt with situations like this before, and never had anybody get mad at him infringing on forty square feet of their property in order to get to an adjoining property.

The solution

Anyway, after talking to the county and making sure of the boundaries – and yes, he did try to talk to Roland again, but Roland won’t respond to any of his messages – Pete finally came to us, asking if he and his crew could drive their pickups and machines up that little road on the northwest corner of our property to get to the Texan’s property. We’re not doing anything with that part of the property – are hardly ever back here – and we believe in giving. 

Just tell your guys not to litter or dump, was my only concession. Pete said he didn’t like that kind of redneck behavior, either.

Jerry, whom I had never known to bargain before, threw in this little bit: “Would we be able to get permission to explore Seok Forest?”

We didn’t tell Pete that our son had already been there once by himself, and that subsequently Jerry had gone with him to see the streams and waterfalls Benjamin had discovered there.

Pete said he thought that could be worked out.

It has been – we have signed liability papers, and are not allowed to be on the property during the turkey and deer hunting seasons – and following are several photos to prove it.

The lake in the background we can't see from our property, but it's about a fifteen minute walk away to it.

Pete came back to us a couple of weeks later and said, “Because you have been such good neighbors, I am going to let you have our bulldozer for a half a day to do whatever you want.”

As I mentioned in this post, this deal saved us some money in getting our earth-sheltered house buried. We also got a nice pond, at least six feet deep in the middle (filled up two feet now, thanks to the recent heavy rains) and something like thirty feet in diameter.

It pays to be nice to rich guys.

I said this to a friend, and she said, “I’ve learned it pays to be nice to anybody.”

Yes, I heartily agree. But not everybody can give you the use of a bulldozer and access to hundreds of wooded acres with roads and beautiful flowing mountain streams.