T4 -- Totally True Travel Tales - A Wedding Album, An Above-Ground Pool and An Iguana


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!”

Here at Cook & James we pride ourselves on being like a family. So, it wasn’t so odd for my husband to tag along for an at-home closing several years ago, especially since it was right on our way to a short weekend getaway, plus Georgia requires an unofficial witness for closing transactions.

This particular closing was supposed to be fast, but hours later, I was still completing the transaction while he patiently waited. Well, in the end, he was more incredulous than patient. However, we’d been together long enough that I think he really shouldn’t have been surprised about the delays.

We were working at the kitchen table and complications kept arising – some fees were off on the closing statement, the couple wanted to pay their property taxes separately instead of through escrow, and so on. We had a really difficult time and the entire document package had to be revised, but I always try to handle tough situations with a healthy dose of humor and small talk. Ultimately, we had hours of down time as we waited for the lender to change the paperwork. So we waited…and I filled the empty space because nothing makes time drag on more than silence.

As we initially chatted, I mentioned those crazy hot Georgia summers and the couple gleefully gave Hubby and me a tour of the back yard, telling us the long, sad saga of their above-ground swimming pool. I’m innately curious about people and typically l ask lots of leading questions, a trait that has served me well including in this instance when we kept the topic of conversation going for much longer than my husband thought humanly possible. What had ultimately transpired for this lovely couple was some major buyer’s remorse – they deemed the pool defective and wanted to return it but the swimming pool company wasn’t cooperating. So, on principle the couple refused to use the pool. Ever. No matter how hot it was. And we heard about each and every detail on that very long (and hot) Georgia day.

After our outdoor excursion with so much more minutia than one might ever think possible, we convened back in the kitchen to get a status update on the papers from the lender. There was progress, but, with phone calls, transfers and such, we soon found ourselves waiting again.

No awkward silence on my watch so, making more chit chat, I disclosed that we were recently married. Out came their wedding album. We dutifully ooh’d and ahh’d as we strolled down Memory Lane and this couple’s 1980s-era nuptials celebration, complete with big hair, powder blue tuxes and frilly shirts.

But the wedding album and above-ground pool didn’t hold a candle to what came during the next lull. Because by this point, we were practically family.

We were invited into the living room to get a bit more comfortable on the sofa. Comfortable wasn’t exactly my first reaction upon entering the room – it was the habitat of the couple’s pet iguana, a 12-foot long one! Apparently, these lovely reptiles grow to fill their habitat and this lucky “little” guy called the entire length of the living room his cozy iguana home.

After five hours, we successfully completed the closing and, blessedly, Hubs and I left to begin our weekend getaway. He turned to me once we got in the car and asked me just one question, “Heather, would you consider this a normal work day?”

I replied, “yes I would, isn’t it awesome?!”

CJHeather James