The Tailgate | T4 -- Totally True Travel Tales


by Heather James

T4 Is an ongoing series of hard-to-believe but true encounters traveling to our signature At-Home closings. For more than 10 years we’ve been taking the closing anywhere that’s convenient for the client – literally anywhere. So, we have unintentionally amassed quite a few crazy stories that didn’t seem humorous at the time, but in hindsight, they certainly offer us a good bit of levity. Like they say, “you can’t make this stuff up!”


An age-old saying has particular application in our industry: if it can go wrong, it will. With real estate closings there are so many moving parts, opportunities abound for delays and that definitely keeps us constantly on our toes.


One such delay resulted in a cascading series of events that has become a rather amusing and famous story in and about our water cooler.


It was before the real estate crash when things were busy and crazy. Everything was hectic and often, because lenders were handling so many files, we experienced significant delays in receiving our closing packages. We were working with a couple from Jonesboro, Georgia (let’s call them Jane and John) on their refinance and the appointment kept getting pushed back for various reasons. The documents needed to be revised several times and the closing day kept changing. Work, kids and life can make things hard for the client when this happens and simultaneously the lender is scrambling to meet end of the month numbers. Tensions can get high but luckily, we’re used to this and flexibility is our middle name. There’s more than one way to skin a cat, right?


In this instance, we finally firmed up an appointment time and I was to meet Jane and John at their home in Jonesboro. Let me tell you, that is far from Alpharetta, our home base north of Atlanta. Like 40 miles far – which, in Atlanta can translate to hours in traffic.


But that was fine, it was all in a day’s work because that’s what we do…take the closing anywhere our clients find convenient. I double and triple checked I had packed everything and set out on my trek to the southern-most of Atlanta’s suburbs.


I gave myself plenty of time, however, Jane and John had backed up our meeting time too close to another appointment. They were pretty busy folks, after all – precisely the type who need our At-Home closing service. They let me know they were heading out and asked to meet me at a gas station en route to their next meeting. Yep, for real, a gas station.

To this day, I cannot remember the name of that gas station. What I do distinctly recall is driving down this really long, straight county highway peering at road signs for what seemed like forever, combing the landscape for that designated gas station meeting spot. There were so many gas stations! Finally, I found it but, little did I know, the excitement was just starting.

I was driving a tiny, two door car, so getting in my vehicle to sign the papers was not really an option. We were in luck though, because Jane and John were in their pickup truck. We unlatched that bad boy’s tailgate and, voilà, a makeshift table appeared. Now our only issue was the slats in the truck bed that would have made signing quite difficult. No problem. I unearthed a cardboard box from my trunk and, using John’s Buck pocket knife (because: Georgia!), ripped some nice close-to-straight pieces to put under and support our precious documents. Come hell or high water, we’ll figure a way!

Not only were Jane and John anxious to get to their next meeting, but the wind had kicked up, so speed became really important. I clutched documents with a death grip, kind of petrified something might blow away. As I carefully explained all the terms and conditions of the loan, I cautiously passed each document off as quickly as I dared until all the papers had the requisite signatures and were 100% buttoned up. John and Jane happily progressed to their next appointment, I breathed a tired sigh of relief and got back in my tiny car heading north.


I do believe it was one of the most improvised closings I’ve ever accomplished…and, to this day, the only time we’ve completed one on the tailgate of a pickup truck at a gas station!


CJHeather James