He walked into the office unannounced and without an appointment. He marched up to the clerk’s counter just like he owned the place and told Barbie that he needed to see me. After a brief conversation, she had him take a seat and offered him a cup of coffee. She came back to my office and told me he was asking to see me. With an exasperated look on her face, she said she didn’t have a clue what he wanted because he refused to discuss his personal business with her (that stuff really infuriated her because as a former newspaper reporter, she desperately wanted to know everything and was seriously offended when put off). He was one of my residents, so I told her to send him on back.
He walked in the office and took the seat Barbie offered him, and she sat his coffee cup on the table beside him. She backed to the door and stopped and leaned against the door frame. He was watching her . . . and she was watching him. I was watching both of them.
As he sat there looking at her, he fidgeted some, and she cleared her throat . . . not out of need, but as a way of putting him on notice that “we” were waiting on him to state his reason for what she viewed as imposing on our time and busy schedules (she always cracked me up and was pretty much a twin sister to Barney Fife on the Mayberry’s Sheriff’s office). Finally, I asked Barbie if she would excuse Mr. Pena and me. That bugged her . . . she really wanted (needed) to know what the dude wanted.
After she left and he was sure she was out of range of hearing, he cleared his throat and said that he had been to the bank and had asked for a $5,000 loan. He said the Banker had run a credit check and had told him that his credit wasn’t very good and he could not get a bank loan. He brightened, smiled and said as he was walking out of that office, the Banker said, “Hey, I see on your application that you are one of Mr. Melton’s residents. If you could get him to co-sign your note, the bank would be happy to loan you $5,000.” He viewed that as terrific news and had walked all the way to my office to tell me the good news and what high regard the Banker had for me, and to ask me to drive him to the bank so he could get his loan right now!
I thought about it for a few minutes, and asked him, “Mr. Pena, do you really need to borrow that $5,000?” He assured me that he did, indeed, need the loan. I told him, “Mr. Pena, I am actually pretty busy right now, but I will tell you what . . . you go back down to State Bank and Trust and you tell Mr. Mansker that I said if he will sign your note, that I personally will loan you the $5,000!” It was actually rather sad how happy that offer of kindness made him. He shook my hand several times on his way out and kept saying, “Thank you, Mr. Melton, Thank you, Mr. Melton.”
It Seems to me . . . that Mr. Mansker was unwilling to sign Mr. Pena’s note, as neither one of them followed up with me on the matter. Funny thing though, when I spied Mr. Mansker across the room at Rotary Club a couple of days later, the rascal was grinning like a possum eating a persimmon.
Mr. Pena was certainly one of my most colorful residents over the years. Not sure what made me think of him this morning, but I am thinking that I will write more about him in the days ahead. Sweet, sad, funny old guy . . .