Sometime in the later 1970s Harold showed up in Austin as an underground utility contractor. There have been a bunch of them that have come and gone in Austin over the past almost 50 years that I’ve been around. But none like Harold, that would cause you to feel like you needed a bath, from just having a conversation with him. Okay that last sentence is a little bit of a lie. There have been several others that gave me that feeling.
Harold had a gift of gab and you knew he was a bullshit artist the second he started talking. He would often show up where a lot of the other contractors in town were congregating. He just wanted to fit in.
Everyone knew he wasn’t paying his bills as it was fairly common knowledge. One day, one of the more outspoken guys in the group said “Harold, you’re going to have to start paying your bills or you’ll get run out of town on a rail”.
Not one to have to contemplate a response, he immediately launched into to explaining his financial woes. He had a bookkeeper that had stolen him blind and then left town. Somebody asked why he ever hired that guy in the first place.
Harold explained; “One day I was working out on Brodie Lane and Bob (that bookkeeper) come walking up to that ditch-line where I was at and just stood there. He had on a fancy suit, and was wearing a necktie that was as broad as a handsaw” then he paused and gestured with his hands to show how wide that necktie was. “That big. I should have known that very minute that Ol Bob wasn’t anything but a crook. But I needed somebody to help me so I hired him right there on the spot. It was the worst mistake I ever made”.
I’m not sure that Harold ever recovered from the bad bookkeeper, but sometime or the other he disappeared, just like dozens of others have.