After the birth of my son, I took two weeks off work and my parents came to stay with us in Waterford to help out.
One day, while my mother, father, and I sat around the kitchen table eating lunch, Lief called from the office.
“You won’t believe… Well, I don’t even know how to explain what just happened,” he said.
“A round little Irishman named John Hegarty came to the office.
“He knocked on the door. When Deidre opened it, he saw inside. And he flipped out. I’ve never seen anything like it,” Lief continued.
“The man pushed his way past Deidre, stood in the middle of the room, and started screaming.
“Then he barreled into my office, still shouting.
“’Who’s in charge here?!’ he wanted to know.
“‘I’m in charge,’ I told him.
“Then I stood up. The guy is maybe 5 feet 2 inches tall. I stand a good foot taller,” Lief told me.
“When he had to crane his neck back to look up at me, finally, he stopped yelling.”
Mr. Hegarty, it turned out, was the owner of the office we were occupying.
His tenant was Ray, and his contract with Ray stipulated that Ray couldn’t sublet.
But Ray needed cash flow. His accounting software business was failing. He’d had to let nearly all his staff go, meaning he had extra space.
We’d been told about Ray and his empty office by a woman standing in front of us in line at the grocery store. Struggling to find a place to house the business we were in Waterford to start, we’d resorted to asking every person we met if they knew of any available rentals.
Finally, that day in line at the Ardkeen market, we got a hot tip.
We checked out and went straight over to the address the nice Irish lady had written on a scrap of paper for us.
Ray was happy to oblige when we showed up to present ourselves as potential tenants.
We thought Ray owned the place. We found out later that the rent Ray had been charging us per month was more than he was paying himself in rent to Mr. Hegarty. He’d made us his profit center.
Mr. Hegarty, though, didn’t know we existed. He thought the office was still occupied by Ray’s group of four. Our staff of 12 threw him for quite a loop.
“Get out now! All of ye’… out now, now!” he went from desk to desk that day shouting.
A few weeks before Mr. Hegarty came unexpectedly to call, we’d decided that we were outgrowing Ray’s office and had begun searching for bigger space.
Lief explained this to Mr. Hegarty, telling the Irishman that we’d found a place down the street where we were interested in moving but couldn’t figure out how to contact the owner. No one seemed to know how to reach him.
“What place down the street?” Mr. Hegarty wanted to know.
“Number 5 Catherine Street,” Lief explained.
“Number 5 Catherine Street?” Mr. Hegarty asked. “I own that building, too.”
Hegarty and Lief negotiated our relocation on the spot, and the little round Irishman tipped his hat and smiled up at Lief as he walked out.