The attorney who wanted our house kept trying the woman who had run the sale. He asked her to reread the case number for the sale of the property in question. She did and he said, “That’s not the case number that is on my paperwork. Two numbers are transposed on my papers.” The woman apologized but said she didn’t know what she could do. After a few tries at the woman who ran the sale, the bank’s attorney turned to Charles and asked if he could talk with us after the sale. Charles nodded. As the small crowd thinned, the attorney came over and sat on the other side of my husband. The woman who had run the sale came over almost immediately and the attorney raised both hands in front of him (like a criminal about to be arrested) and said, “We’re just going to talk, that’s all.” The conversation that followed is somewhat of a blur to me, but it went something like what follows.
Turning to Charles he said, “We can work this out. So, are you specs?” Charles and I both replied, “No.” “Oh,” he replied, “well we’ll talk. I’m sure there’s a way we can work this out.” He paused. “You’re not specs?” We both shook our heads no. “Well, what are you going to do with the house if you’re not specs?” He seemed genuinely puzzled. Charles said, “We’re going to live in it.” And the attorney replied, “Oh.” Somehow, he seemed even more puzzled than before. At this point I interrupted to ask Charles for his cell phone. Charles gave it to me and as I walked towards the exit door I heard him explain to the man beside him, “My wife works for an attorney.”
Yeah. There are numerous times I have been grateful for the job I have, but that moment ranks right up there among the top.
I stood just outside the doors to the sheriff department and talked with one of the partners of the law firm where I work. I told him we had a bit of a problem. I explained to him that we went to the sheriff sale, it was the first property sold. Charles placed a bid at two/thirds value and that his was the only bid. “Well, that sounds great,” my boss said, “what’s the problem?” So I explained to him that at the end of the sale this other attorney came forward saying he should have bid on the same property but he had the wrong case number on his paperwork. From the other end of the phone I heard deep chuckles and I knew that meant good news.
Charles later told me that while I was on the phone the attorney beside him tried to make small talk, and kept assuring him that “we could work this out”. He even made some comment about having put on his wife's glasses instead of his own that morning. (???) After only a short while, Charles told him he wanted to wait until his wife returned before talking any more. Following that, the attorney folded both arms across his chest and they both waited in silence. They were sitting thus when I came back in. The attorney unfolded himself and said with a smile, “So, are we going to work this out?” I replied, “We are going to stand behind the bid we made this morning. If you have any other questions I can give you the number for our attorney.” The attorney facing me said he was sorry to hear that. He took the name and number of the firm I work for, and then stood almost breathing down the back of my neck while I filled out the purchaser’s information sheet the sheriff department required. Although my voice sounded firm after my phone call to my boss, my hands were shaking like leaves and it was difficult to keep my handwriting legible as I completed the purchaser’s form. The attorney leaning over my shoulder asked for a copy and he finally left.
Charles and I went to an office to finish filling out paperwork and to make our downpayment on the property. It became obvious at this point that what had just happened was highly unusual. Staff told us that once in a while there will be an attorney who is running late and arrives after a property has sold, but that they could never remember an attorney being present but simply not bidding on the property he was there to buy. Everyone assured us that our bid was legitimate, and that they didn’t think there would be anything the attorney could do to reverse the sale. After a few minutes the county sheriff came in and introduced himself to Charles and I. He told us that if there was any difficulty he and his staff would stand behind our bid. As he told us, his staff ran the sale “by the book” and our bid was made “by the book”. He told us not to worry. And he told us congratulations.
It was still before noon, so we decided to visit a nice restaurant for lunch to celebrate. As we walked out the door of the sheriff department for the last time that morning, Charles and I looked at each other, smiled, and then, finally, we both dissolved in laughter.
(We didn't realize it when this post was originally published, but the drama wasn't over yet.)