By Paul Rhodes - Trustee Services of Arizona
I post foreclosure notices on properties for a living. When I tell people what I do, the first words out of their mouth are inevitably, “That sounds dangerous!” I assure them that I have been doing this for over 30 years. Rarely do I have a problem. But this one day...
...I had to post a property in Bowie, AZ. Bowie is a small town located on Interstate 10 about thirty miles from the New Mexico border. Bowie’s main claim to fame is that it is the hometown of action icon, “John Rambo” made famous by Sylvester Stallone. The property was an old “motor court” which was made popular in the 1950’s. I checked it out on Google Earth before going and knew that it was dilapidated, overgrown and appeared to be abandoned.
Upon arriving, I could see that the old motel rooms were abandoned. Windows were broken and the place was not secure. There was an office building in the front with the address on it. I decided to post my Notice there. I walked up, trying to determine whether the property was occupied or in use. I noticed some relatively new items visible through the windows. It looked like it was being used, by someone.
I posted my Notice, took my photos and began walking toward my car when I heard someone yell. I looked up and saw a guy about sixty years old, poorly dressed with a pony-tail and flip-flops. As I began walking toward him, he started yelling something. I approached him and said, “I am sorry, but I couldn’t hear you.”
He replied, rather vehemently, “You’re trespassing!”
I said, “I’m sorry. Is this your property?”
He yelled, “No! But you are trespassing and I know the owner!”
Thinking it was just a nosy neighbor, I tried to help him out. “Oh, well if you know the owner, please tell them that I had to post this Notice and that they should get in touch with the company on the upper left hand corner of the Notice.”
He again yelled, “You’re trespassing!” At this point we were 10 feet from the road and my car.
I told him, “No worries,” and walked to my car.
He began taking photos with his phone of me, my car, and my license plate. I got in the car and began filling out my Affidavit of Posting. He walked up to my window. I rolled my window down but was also very wary as I remembered one time, a trustor sucker punched me through my open window, but that’s a story for another day. I asked how I could help him. He wanted my name and address. When I inquired why, he said “I want to make sure that if you ever come back here again that I can have you arrested for trespassing.”
I was not inclined to give the information to him and reiterated that he should have his friend contact the Trustee to discuss the property. I promptly rolled up my window and locked the door. He glared at me, started yelling and then reared back his right arm and tried to drive his fist through my window. To no avail. This isn’t what I was expecting from an aging long-hair. Similar to the “print” that happens on your window when a bird strikes it while flying, I had his fist print on my window.
I was thinking, “Ouch! That had to hurt!” Apparently not enough. He reared back again and tried to blow his fist through my window. He failed again. Now I have two fist prints on my window!
At this point, I determined that I was wasting my time. I put the car in drive and quickly whipped a “U” in the intersection. As I was leaving, he launched into a full karate kick to the side of my door. I couldn’t believe that just happened!
I drove down the street about 1⁄4 mile and decided that I should check the door for damage. No damage, but now I have his footprint to match his fist prints. So I continued driving down the road.
As I headed toward my next posting, about 40 miles away in Willcox, an old friend from Alabama called me. I told him, “Dude. You are not going to believe what just happened to me!” And I related the story, in detail. We commiserated for a while until I came to my exit. I drove down the exit road, which turned into a country road. There was a truck behind me, tailgating me. I told my Alabama buddy, “There is no one on this country road. There’s a guy tailgating me. I wish he would just pass me. Oh well, I’m gonna sign off. Have a great Thanksgiving!” and ended the conversation.
I came to a major road, Fort Grant Road, where my only options were to go left or right. I make a right. Darn it! The truck also turned right and was still tailgating me. I slowed down, purposely. The truck pulled alongside me and...it was the guy from Bowie! Taking pictures of me!
I kept driving and ignored him. He pulled ahead of me and then, for good measure, hit the accelerator. A huge plume of black smoke came out his exhaust pipe. I guess that was his version of the single digit salute. At that time, I noticed his license plate, a vanity tag, “BURNSOIL!” How appropriate.
He slowed down, so I passed him. He then accelerated, cut in front of me and forced me off the road. This was all happening on a 5 lane highway in broad daylight. I thought, “This is crazy” and dialed 911. Thank God for “hands free” devices, as while I am talking to the 911 operator, I was able to back up and shoot around him, escaping from his roadblock. This happened twice more, all while I was talking to the 911 operator.
Finally he accelerated past me with another black plume “exclamation” from his tailpipe. I came to the dirt road where my next posting was. As my friend from Bowie was well ahead of me, I turned onto the dirt road and told the 911 operator that the crisis was averted. She told me, “If you have another problem, don’t hesitate to call us again.”
I thanked her and continued a few miles down the dirt road. I located my property but, at this point, I was pretty shaken up. My adrenaline output had definitely spiked. There was no address on the property and even though it was a relatively simple posting, I was double and triple checking that I was in the right location. It took me a little time...
Convinced I was at the proper house, I did the posting, completed my Affidavit and plugged in my next address. I began driving back toward the highway. I got about a half mile down the road when I saw a truck heading in my direction at an alarming rate of speed. I thought, “Could it be? It couldn’t...”
I slowed down, wary. He pulled a “Jim Rockford” sliding turn right in front of me. Having watched enough TV and movie chase scenes, I looked for an exit. I accelerated down into a gully, missing his truck by less than an inch. I climbed out of the gully and hit the accelerator! I was doing 70 miles an hour down a dirt road, through raw land and he was chasing me. And catching me! I came to some homes and I didn’t want to be driving recklessly through the neighborhood, so I slowed down. Did I mention that I was AGAIN on the phone with 911? And, Cochise County being the danger zone that it is, I was talking to the same operator...
“BURNSOIL” took my slowing down as an opportunity to cut me off again. We were stopped and I am literally stuck, hemmed in by a house, a gully and his truck. I could see him gesturing for me to get out of my car, but I wasn’t having any of that. I thought again, “This guy is CRAZY!” I kept talking to 911. She confirmed that I should stay in the vehicle. He continued gesturing for me to get out, but he never got out of his truck. And thankfully, to reduce my anxiety level a little bit, I realized that he was not brandishing a weapon. I kept shaking my head, “No.”
Again, I am hemmed in. I have nowhere to escape. 911 has dispatched a Sheriff to meet me. I realized that one of three things were going to happen: (1) The Sheriff was going to come, (2) The guy was going to get out of his car and I was going to have to respond or (3), I was going to have to escape. Frankly, I didn’t know which was going to happen first.
Then, miraculously, he began to back his truck up, which gave me a window of opportunity. As soon as I had some clearance, I slammed the accelerator to the floor and drove the last half mile to the highway, with 911 still on the line. My friend from Bowie still didn’t give up and continued to tail me to the highway. The 911 operator set up a meeting point with the Sheriff at a truckstop down the road. Mr. “BURNSOIL” continued to tail me, but not aggressively. Right before the truckstop, “coincidentally” he pulled into a side road.
I pulled into the truckstop, where I was greeted by two Sheriff ’s Deputies. I related my story to them and it turns out that they both know Mr. “BURNSOIL” pretty well. As you have probably guessed by now, he was indeed the Trustor, with a long history. Apparently, he was a good citizen before he got into drugs. They asked if I wanted to press charges, but I saw no reason for that. The one Sheriff started laughing and then said, “I’ve got him on the other line...” Wow! I guess he wanted to explain his side of the story. They said that they would pay him a “little visit” and explain what trespassing meant and how fortunate he was that I was not going to press charges.
I contacted my client to let them know to beware of the Trustor, but it turns out that they too also knew he was a problem. He had already called making death threats. I then called my buddy from Alabama, “ Mike, you remember that guy I told you about that punched my window and did a full karate kick to my car?...” And then he knew, the rest of the story...