Last week I introduced you to Jimmy P, one of craziest customers we’ve ever had. But what I shared last week was nothing compared to what we discovered about him as time went on. Picking up where we left off:

Jimmy P had a certain successful M.O. (Modus Operandi. Method of Operation … a certain way in which he “operated.”) Get this … no joke, true story. Jimmy P would meet a woman who needed hardwood flooring installed or a refinish. He would then move in with her, get her credit card and stay until the floors were done. Although this would seem strange and unbelievable at first, it happened again and again and again. On one job he worked for his own brother. We met him, and he was a very bright, college-educated engineer, so we had the chance we were looking for: someone who could explain Jimmy P! His brother said, basically, that everyone loves Jimmy. He does some beautiful hardwood flooring and he is just eccentric. We found out Jimmy P was once in the Air Force. Was he honorably discharged? General discharged? Medically discharged? Dishonorably discharged? Section 8?! Or did he finish his four and walk away? So many unanswered questions. We still don’t know!

Over the years Jimmy P made many odd and truly hilarious appearances. If you read my blog about my crazy customer Old Mr. Welcome (the one who blew up his neighbor’s chimney), listen to this! The Welcome Boys knew Jimmy P—grew up with him. I saw Dave Welcome in the parking lot speaking with Jimmy P, and when the Welcome boys came into the shop, I said, “You know Jimmy?!” Dave said, “Hell yeah! I went home the other night and Jimmy was mowing my lawn! I was like, ‘Jimmy, what are you doing?’ He says, ‘Dave, it was getting a little long. Can you help me with a few things? I gotta finish a job.’ He has a bag … he opens it and offers me a can of tuna, a pineapple, a few bucks. I was like, ‘What do you need?!’ He says, ‘Some poly, couple screens.’ I was laughing. I said, ‘Jimmy, keep your groceries. Take what you need. I can finish my lawn.’ He is one hot $4!T!”

One more story before we move on, just to give you more of the Jimmy P vibe. It was a half-workday before the Christmas holiday and we get a call from Jimmy. “Hey! This Steve?” “Nope, Jack. What’s up, Jimmy?” “I need a few things and I ain’t got paid yet … can you guys float me some stuff until next week?” To me from Jack: “It’s Jimmy P … needs supplies until next week. Small stuff. You want to cover him? I got money.” Me: “Jimmy P? Yeah, I’ll throw in with you, we can help him.” Jack: “Jimmy! Hey! You there? Okay, Steve and me got you. Come on in, we are closing early for the long weekend. Where are you?” Jimmy told him he was up the street at the liquor store. Jack joked: “Jimmy! Steve likes Vodka; I like Bacardi.” Jack was laughing. “Okay, Jimmy. See you soon. Later.” Click.

Jimmy showed up just before we closed. Jack and I threw about 40 bucks each into what Jimmy needed and he came strolling in. “Thanks, guys, I really appreciate it. My girl is out of town and she took her credit card … she’ll be back Monday. I got you guys a lil’ something.”

Jimmy P. had a very small brown paper bag. He pulled out two small plastic bottles: a $3.99 pint of generic Russian vodka and a $4.99 pint of generic white rum. Jack and I were chuckling, as this was pure Jimmy P—Jack had just been busting him. We thought the guy at the liquor store probably knew Jimmy and accepted the trade of the tuna, pineapple and maybe some bottles and cans?! Jimmy set our “presents” on the counter and then does this: He grabs one of the bottles, walks over to the water cooler, grabs a Dixie cup, opens our “gift” and fills the cup! Then he tosses it back! I look at the cup and see the booze all but dissolved the small cup covered in its thin wax coating. And wasn’t that our gift?! Classic Jimmy P!

We eventually moved a few miles away to a new facility and had not seen Jimmy in years … when the call came. “You got some guy named Jimmy P asking for you on line one!” Our new assistant manager did not know Jimmy P, and Jack had long since moved on. I laughed and said I was busy, but please send that call over.

What happened moving forward were the strangest moments—tragic, heart-breaking moments, insane, inexplicable moments—and an entirely new chapter in our lives with Jimmy P (to be continued)…

Stephen Diggins works for Wood Pro Inc. in their Salem, N.H., branch as manager and training director. He has many years of installation, sanding, finishing, gymnasium design and technical consulting experience, which he uses to assist his flooring customers on a regular basis. With almost 30 years in the flooring industry, he has been a freelance columnist for magazine, newsprint and online medias and has conducted product seminars ranging from wood flooring to luxury vinyl tile.