It started as an ordinary Thursday afternoon, when I wrapped up my workday; but this Thursday a friend asked me to drop by his office on Blue Crab Road for a drink and conversation. Scott and I had met at church; both of us had a lot of common interests, including things that relate to managing and growing a business.
When I arrived, Scott’s employees had left for the day, so it was just the two of us, sitting in his office visiting when Scott looked at me and said, “I’ve got something to show you and I believe you can keep a secret.”
Scott went over to a large bookcase and grabbing it with both hands, he slowly opened a door leading to a large room and workspace that encased a glass-enclosed cubicle.
“Why all the secrecy about a shower?” I asked. “Are you afraid someone is going to steal your idea?”
“This is no shower,” Scott blurted out. “You’re looking at what people have only dreamed of. This is a real time machine.”
“Sure it is” I smirked, “And I’m president of General Motors.”
“No, no,” Scott replied; “you don’t understand.” He explained that he and his crew had developed this working machine. He and others had used it on multiple occasions. He asked, “Want to try it?”
Remembering how I trusted him, I agreed.
“Where would you like to go?” Scott asked. I was so shocked, I couldn’t come up with anything original, and remembering I was writing a real estate column for the November Oyster Pointer, I said, “Well, since November has Thanksgiving Day, how about taking me back to Plymouth, Massachusetts, and let me talk with someone there about house construction? Let’s do 1621, a year after the pilgrims landed, when things weren’t quite as bad.”
Scott agreed. Inside the machine, he handed me what looked like a cell phone that he called a TMphone. He said it was my means of communication with him.
I asked, “Does the TM stand for time machine?”
“Yes,” he said. “We couldn’t come up with anything more original.”
He turned the machine on and lights began shining and I heard whirling noises, and before I knew it, I was in another place. But something was wrong. I saw buildings and ships and active commerce passing. I realized Scott had the right year but the wrong place. I was in Plymouth, England, where the pilgrims left on the Mayflower, not in Plymouth, Massachusetts, where they landed. I pulled out my TMphone and said, “Scott, we have a problem.” Apologizing, Scott transported me to the correct Plymouth.
Landing on the hill overlooking Plymouth Plantation, I could see almost a dozen houses below and a gentleman dressed in his best pilgrim suit. He smiled, greeted me and said, “By the looks of your clothes, I’d say you’re not from around here.” Dressed in my golf shirt and khakis, I wanted to tell him that in 2019, people sell his outfit as a Halloween costume but instead I asked him if he could answer some questions about the village houses.
“Happily,” he said. “I’m getting ready to build one myself.” He described his planned house, saying “It will be one large room with a fireplace for cooking and heating in winter. We have plenty of wood to cut nearby to make the frame and build the walls and roof. I’ll have the finest thatched roof and a wonderfully smooth dirt floor; and even though it isn’t as nice as what we had across the sea, it will do for now.”
“That certainly sounds interesting,” was my best response. I asked, “What about codes compliance?”
“I know no one by that name in the village,” he said with a puzzled look. “Who is this man, Codes Compliance?”
“It’s not a man,” I explained; “it’s a set of rules needed to build your house. It’s something government sets as regulations for how houses have to be built or changed.”
“Well, I didn’t tell Codes or the government or anyone else how to build their house and have no need of him or them telling me.”
I knew his rules for building would sooner or later change, and he would come to realize that codes compliance was ultimately for his and others’ safety and the protection of those after him who might live in that house.
Time to return to Newport News, so I told the pilgrim goodbye.
“Beam me up, Scotty,” I said into my TMphone. I returned to Scott’s office, thanked him for a memorable experience and headed home.
A month later, Scott’s company transferred him to Washington, DC. He said the Time Machine would remain in City Center, but be moved to a new location somewhere on Thimble Shoals Boulevard.