Wednesday, February 8, 2023

Heller and Shannon: Pouring the foundation

Heller called in sick to work the day the cement was scheduled to be delivered.

He had been able to put in the forms for the footings in the daylight hours after he got home from work but cement trucks show up when the cement company says they will.

It was telling to Heller that he was able to get one to show up three days after he called. The economy was definitely cooling off.

Foundations were always the first thing to hit the wall. Jobs that were in progress would be finished regardless of the interest rates. Dry-wall hangers, painters and roofers were the last to feel the pressure of rising interest rates.

Heller helped Clayton during the morning, then he moved to the job-site when he got the call that the truck was an hour out.

Pouring the concrete was almost trivial. The ground was dry and hard. The forms were more than adequately braced and leveled.


Shannon asked Fred if he knew of any computer programs that might be useful for estimating construction costs. "My boyfriend and I are thinking of starting a construction business and I want to be sure that we are not under-quoting jobs because of costs we weren't aware of."
Fred gave her an approving glance. "That is pretty on-the-ball. There are a lot of costs that aren't obvious. The physical depreciation of equipment means you will need to replace them at some point and the smart business owner adds that depreciation cost into every quote. Same for taxes and fees and such."

"And then it seems like a lot of business owners don't bother to write down mileage. They figure....Hey, I am going to town they don't consider the lost time or the miles as a job cost."

Fred said he knew of several but would check to see which was currently considered the best.

Then he asked her if she was any good with Excel Spreadsheets.

As a matter-of-fact, she was a middling-to-fair user and had even recorded some “macros” to make things go faster in one of her previous assignments.

“While we are talking about this” Fred said “would you be willing to help one of our clients to apply for a building permit? He is a builder and paper-work is not his best thing.”

“Sure...but I don’t know if I can do it without visiting the site” Shannon said.

“Not a problem. You can do it on the clock. The address is….” and Fred filled her in on the details.

Shannon printed off the topo maps using the Credit Union’s printer and the printer was much, much faster than the one at the library.

It was almost comical how the guys at the proposed building site tripped over themselves as they tried to impress her. Kim Kardashian would not have caused more of a show than Shannon did.

For their part, they were impressed that Shannon noticed that they had already called Miss Dig and the site was flagged and marked with utility line paint. They were also impressed that Shannon had a pair of suitable footwear in the trunk of her car and that she asked questions and didn’t try to impress them. 


Shannon was taken aback when she popped open “Anita’s” Pluggedin account at the library. She had fifteen connection requests. Shannon did a quick, preliminary look at who was asking for connections and two of them were members of The “C”-Suite. In other words, about five levels above her in the corporate food-chain.

That made her more than a little uneasy. The men in the “C”-Suite, short-hand for the Chief Executive Officer, Chief Financial Officer, Chief Operations Manager and so on, were powerful, proud men who were not to be trifled with.

Maybe it was time to think about a bail-out plan in case things went sideways.


  1. I see a story arc you're working with being smaller banks servicing their community customers, and people needing to have those interpersonal relationships.
    I can testify its foreign matter today, even at credit unions.
    I had to remind the bank manager that it was my cash on deposit that allowed his "fractional reserve savings and loan based credit union" to even exist!
    (It was a 6-figure check).
    Raked him over the coals because of the lengthy delay between depositing said check and availability of funds.
    It clearly stung when I pointed out that the pony express could have traversed the mileage in less time than his modern banking institution was going to take.

    1. I have an acquaintance named "Jerry" who had the foresight to "adjust" the bank's terms and conditions while he was originally opening an account. He crossed off the "14 day waiting period" language, dated and initialed it and had the bank manager do the same.

      Fast forward about five years. Jerry deposited a check for about $15k and then wanted to withdraw $2k.

      The teller refused.

      "Lemme see the manager" Jerry commanded.

      The manager politely listened and then refused, citing the boiler-plate in the original terms-and-conditions.

      Jerry insisted.

      The manager got testy.

      Jerry demanded that the manager produce the original forms that he had signed when opening the account.

      Fifteen minutes, the forms were produced from the catacombs. Jerry opened up the forms to page 7 and pointed at the modified contract.

      Then Jerry demanded the balance of his account, in cash He was moving it over to E.F. Hutton across the street.

      The bank had to call to get the $400k that was in Jerry's account.

      Jerry might have looked like a dumb, Polish electrician and you would have been right on two-out-of-three assumptions.

    2. Man, if I had money like Anna Martin, I could buy the bank!
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    3. I am making a good salary from home $1300-$2600/week , which is amazing, under a year back I was jobless in a horrible economy. I thank God every day I was blessed with these instructions and ADq now it’s my duty to pay it forward and share it with Everyone,
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  2. There are always signs of things slowing down. One just has to know where to look.

    I have used fancy programs for real estate in the past, but a well constructed Excel sheet will work just as effectively.

    It seems that Shannon is at a crossroads with her Pluggedin saga - she seems to be a smart cookie; I will be interested in what happens next.

  3. ERJ That same bank experience happened to me. I deposited a very large sum in a different branch of the same bank that I had dealt with. I was told that I had to wait ten days to access my money. Ten days later I took the money across the street to a different bank, and never went back.

  4. Yep, the twists and turns one gets with banks is...interesting... I've had one account with WF for 50 years, and regardless of the size of the check deposited, it's always available the next day.

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  6. Hello ERJ, I've thoroughly enjoyed your blog, both short fiction and the other small farm/acreage stuff. I'm surprised someone else hasn't commented already-- Heller is waiting on a concrete truck. Cement is a component of concrete, along with water, fine and coarse aggregate. In MI, given the freeze thaw cycle, an air entraining agent is also recommended. Warmest Regards, Engineer from 2 states west.

    1. You are of course technically correct, however 'see-ment' is accepted usage down in the hole.
      Just saying, a little east of Paris ...

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  8. While cash has many disadvantages, getting flak from a bank when trying to access your stash isn't one of the. Just sayin'.


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