Toronto Star

It’s nothing personal, Lot 6


They called me “Lot 6.” At least that’s what Sydney Greenberg, the builder of my house, always called me after I signed my name to the agreement of purchase and sale and waited for said house to be constructe­d. The man never remembered or perhaps had no need to remember the names of any of his purchasers.

Shortly before the closing date, I wanted to express some concerns to Sydney about the house possibly not being ready in time. There were a few odds and ends still not in place — like the roof. I went to the builder’s trailer on the subdivisio­n site and stood in line behind a handful of other concerned purchasers, like the podgy redheaded gentleman who owned the house several lots up the road.

He was already living in his new house, but the plumbing left a little to be desired and he was pleading with the builder to send the plumber over to connect the toilets. Sydney assured him the plumber would get there once he finished working on Lot 11’s house. He then introduced me to my new neighbour. “Lot 6, meet Lot 14.”

I knew right away Lot 14 and I would get along; we were both even numbers.

I realized Lot 14 had bigger problems than I did so I decided to leave. Sydney noticed me heading for the door and said, “Don’t worry; your house will be ready in time, Lot 6.”

My wife, who had stayed in the car, asked me what he had said. I told her that Sydney had called me Lot 6 and that I didn’t like it.

She said, “Give him a taste of his own medicine.”

I took her advice. The next time I had a complaint, I phoned him and said, “Excuse me, Mr. Trailer.”

Sydney responded, “Is that you, Lot 6?” So that didn’t do the trick. My kids, however, thought the numerical designatio­n was cute. They said it made me sound like a secret agent.

I thought about it and to a certain extent it made sense. I visualised that scene in every James Bond movie where Agent Q meets Bond and gives him the gadgets he will need to sneak onto that island in some remote part of the Orient and blow up that nuclear reactor after single-handedly wiping out hundreds of enemy guards.

Perhaps one day I would be summoned to that trailer by Sydney and he would say, “Lot 6, you’re flying to Venice tonight. In front of Piazza San Marco you will meet Lot 27, who will hand you a microfilm containing top secret designs for the latest kitchen tiles. In this black bag you will find all you need, including an inflatable helicopter, with dual machine guns of course.”

My neighbour to the north, Lot 7, kind of liked his numerical designatio­n as well. He said that this way he wasn’t just another name. But then again his name was Smith.

All of this was several years ago. The area now is fully developed and the trees the town planted then are even giving us a modicum of shade.

I ran into Sydney at the nearby plaza last week. I did not expect him to remember me. To my surprise, when I said, “Hello, Sydney,” he responded, “It’s been a long time. How are you Lot 6?”

I guess Sydney Greenberg is one of those people who never forgets a number. Marcel Strigberge­r is a Thornhill lawyer who likes to perform stand-up comedy and has written for Dave Broadfoot and The Royal Canadian Air Farce. Check out his website, legalhumou­

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