Ode to Shlomo

Shlomo Linkus. The man had an amazing name. He was my landlord for nearly two years and every time I told people his name I wanted to wave my arms like I was introducing a circus act. Or just raise my eyebrows and wait for them to laugh before continuing my story.

Obviously, I hang out with a lot of gentiles and we don’t encounter many Shlomos, so his name makes an impact on us.

But it wasn’t just his name, it was the total package which made him so great.

Shlomo had style. He dressed like Don Knotts’s dapper older brother and kept a well-trimmed mustache. In the winter he was never without his hat. One morning when my car pool driver picked me up she started talking about his little hat, and I finished her sentence saying he wears it “just so.” Which is able as accurate of a description as you can get.

The car pool lady was a big fan of his name, too. Only she always spoke about him using her pet name Shlomy.

He owned several buildings, back to back, with an alley of parking spaces in between. I’d see him on almost a daily basis moving between the buildings, or talking with some of the maintenance men who lived in the basement with their families.

One of the first times that I met Shlomo in person was when I went to his office to talk about the security deposit. He was an informal landlord and my roommates and I didn’t sign a lease for the apartment. But we were expected to pay the outgoing tenants a security deposit, and when we moved out, the incoming tenants would pay us.

I didn’t want to get screwed out of so much money, so I told Shlomo I wanted to write an agreement for him to sign explaining the security deposit.

When I arrived at his office, he looked at the computer print out I handed him, decided it needed rewritten, and left the office to get something. I didn’t know what.

He returned with typing paper, carbon copy paper and the single pen he kept in the office.

Seriously, the man had carbon copy paper. Did he pull it out of his fall out shelter? It was the year 2009. I hadn’t seen carbon copy paper in such a long time, it was as if he had whipped out a rotary dial phone and made a call pledging money to the Jimmy Carter presidential campaign.

The thing was, he had this air of authority and certainty about him that made you want to follow his lead even if it was a bit off kilter.

He also had the good manners of another generation, possibly a fictional one, but still one that was to be envied.

When I broke the news to him that I’d be moving out because I’d gotten a new job in New York City, he asked me what the job was and then shook my hand with a silent congratulations.

Then he launched into a story about his recent visit to Jack’s 99 cents stores in New York, and how they are a brilliant business idea. It was kind of a long story and we were standing outside my car on a December morning before I drove to work, so on the one hand I wanted him to wrap it up, but on the other hand, I felt like he was imparting his wisdom on me and I should stay and listen.

I haven’t kept in touch with Shlomy since moving, but I’m sure if we did, I’d receive nothing but lines of genius rolling off sheets of carbon copy paper.

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