It was time for me to move on. My SUV was parked in long term parking at the airport. I figured that should give me about two weeks before someone notices the car had been there too long. I walked toward the Delta terminal carrying only my brief case and a travel case. I had all my ids in the brief case, a few thousand dollars in assorted bills, and my travel documents. Everything would appear perfectly normal unless you actually knew me. You see all the documentation was in a different name, but where pictures were needed, they were my face. My driver's license and passport included. I was starting out on my new life with a new identity.
I entered the terminal and started the process of going through the screening to board my flight. The TSA is a very efficient operation. They check my ticket; x-rayed my brief case, my wallet and my car keys. There are no bombs, water bottles, or other prohibited items in my case or on my person. They rightly guessed I wasn't a terrorist and passed me through.
My next stop is the Men's Room where I enter a stall and start removing my outer clothing. Underneath them, I have another set of clothes. I go from being a dressed business man to a tourist returning from vacation. I have a gaudy shirt, shorts, and summery shoes on now. I exit the men's room and merge with the passengers from a flight returning from Las Vegas. I look like just another tourist returning from Fun City. I follow the crowd to the baggage claim. I walk over to a small non-descript wheeled suitcase sitting by its self on the conveyer. Since there is no one paying any attention to this case, I snatch it and walk out the exit doors. I walk over to the inter-terminal transport and climb aboard. Ten minutes later I exit the tram at another terminal. I stop at the Men's Room, remove another layer and deposit it in the stolen suitcase.
I approach the ticket counter, check my stolen bag, use one of my new ids and pick up my boarding pass. Instead of tackling the TSA check point, I head to the area where all the shops are. I get lost in the crowds and slowly make my way to the exits. I am soon back on the tram and headed toward Continental's Terminal. This time I am actually going to board a plane and leave the airport.
Soon I am on one of their overseas flights. I have successfully changed myself into another person. My new life starts now.
My wife, the cheating bitch, will never find me or any of my money.
I think I'd better tell you what precipitated this exercise in identity change. I'll start by telling you about myself. I was born in Western New Your State in 1960. I graduated from High School in about the middle of my class. I wasn't very impressive in my scholastic abilities or my physical shape. I guess you could say I was just a normal kid. My parents were not wealthy professionals. My Mom was a stay at home Mom, and my Dad was a construction worker. I attended a local college and lived at home. I worked part time at a fast food establishment during the school term, and in construction with my Dad over summer breaks.
My college grades were nothing great. I just managed to carry a 2.6 for all four years. Between all the hours I worked, I didn't really apply myself to my schooling. I did just enough to get by. I graduated with my business degree and went out into the world to make my mark. Well was I surprised when none of the "big guys" wanted to hire me. I guess my average grades from an average college in a simple business curriculum didn't actual stand out amongst all the super star graduates. So I spent my time looking for work instead of a lofty position.
I finally found a job with a small Property Management outfit. I wasn't given a private office with a secretary. I was given a desk, a phone, and a lot of responsibilities for little starting money. My college dreams of a white shirt, a dark suit, and 9 to 5 hours were dashed.
I soon learned that in a small business, everyone was a jack-of-all-trades. I harassed tenants for overdue rent, I helped with evictions, I interviewed prospective tenants. I even helped the maintenance staff clean and paint for new tenants. I didn't make a lot of money, but I learned the real-estate business by doing everything.
And in the process of learning, I fell in love. Not with a beautiful woman, but with the real-estate business.
My boss, the owner, noticed my burgeoning love for the business and guided me along. He had a couple of adult children but none of them wanted to follow in his footsteps. I guess I became the child that he had always wanted. Someone he could pass his knowledge to.
One day he called me into his office.
"Billy, take a look at these bank foreclosures and tell me what you think might make a good investment for us, "he said.
"I've never done this sort of thing before," I alibied.
"Don't worry, I'll check out your recommendations before taking the plunge. Oh, I'd like your results right after lunch."
Lunch at his company was 12:00; it was now almost 10:00! "Shit he didn't give me much time, "I thought.
I skipped lunch and spent the next three hours reading the listings. I found a few that I thought he might like.
Promptly at 1:00 I walked into his office and presented my recommendations.
He listened to me for almost an hour before he interrupted, "So far everything you picked is shit," was his only comment.
"Come over here and I'll show you how it's done." He added.
We spent the rest of the week going over the choices. When we were done we had selected a few properties that had a lot of potential. I learned a lot that week. I also learned my humble boss was a real-estate genius.
He bid on four of our selections and won only one bid. It was a four family apartment building built in the early 1910's. It was in a neighbor that was on the edge of an upscale area populated by young marrieds and college students. The building needed a lot of work, but we bought it really cheap, and the bank agreed to provide all the construction loans and postpone the mortgage payments for six months. What it all ended up meaning was that we bought the building for almost nothing down and had all the money we needed to fix'er up.
At closing he handed me the keys and said, "It's your project. Get started tomorrow."
For the next six months I felt a greater range of emotions than a person should. I went from highs to lows and then back again. In between I learned more about the rental business. By the time the first mortgage payment was due, I had all the apartments rented and was starting to cruise along.
Soon after my boss surprised me again. "Bill sign these papers on that four family we bought."
"Of course, but why?" I asked.
"Because I'm transferring ownership over to you, it's your building now."
"What!" I exclaimed.
"Bill, I'm getting old and I'd like to pass my knowledge on to someone. I hope you'll let me pass it to you. My children will probably sell off all the property I own when I die as is their birth right. So we'll start you on to your own real-estate business. Please except my little gift to you."
So that how I started. I soon became Billco Properties, LLC.
My friend and mentor died about five years later. True to his prediction, his children sold everything off. They wanted top dollar for everything and found a buyer who was willing to pay the price.
By that time I had 15 properties of my own. They were all in good areas and all fully rented. My financial blueprint was factored on 50% rentals. By that I mean if half a building is rented it pays all the costs for that building. Most of my buildings ran 100% occupancy. I wasn't rich, but I wasn't in trouble either.
I was doing ok.
I picked up a few commercial properties when the guy that bought my late boss's business went bankrupt. He thought that hiring a lot of help and then spending all his time on the golf course was all that was needed.
To my advantage, I guess he was wrong.
I was 30 years old when I met the woman who was eventually to be my wife. I had purchased a piece of commercial property in a fairly good neighborhood. She and a girl friend rented one of the office suites to start a decorating business.
When they met me, I was dressed as I usually did, as just one of the other workers. They were both dressed to the nines, right out of a fashion magazine. I guess that as interior decorators, they needed to make an impression.
Well they did make one on me.
Wendy was the more aggressive partner she captured my heart. In my little mind I saw her standing in front of a vine covered cottage with two small children awaiting her husband to return from work. I pictured myself as that husband.
When I quoted the rent to them, I could tell by their faces that they couldn't afford the place. "Since this is a fairly empty building (I lied, there was only one other vacancy) I can let you have an introductory rent for the first year," I offered.
"How much lower?" they asked in unison.
"About half, if that's not too much. The owner gives me a bit of flexibility on setting introductory rates."
They jumped on my generosity and signed a one year lease with an option on another year, rent to be determined later.
"Can we have the owner's name and address so that we can thank him?" Wendy asked.
I gave them my mother's maiden name with a phony first name and the company's PO Box. I explained that the owner did not like people bothering him, so sending a short note would be sufficient.
.... There is more of this story ...