A different kind of business verification.

I like to do business verifications, even though the pay is usually nothing to get excited about. I like that they are revealed and there is a script, and all I have to do is go through the questionnaire, mark yes and no answers, and take pictures of the door locks and file cabinets. Easy peasy.

They rarely come up locally, though, so when one popped up locally several weeks ago I grabbed it. It actually paid better than most — $30 instead of the usual approximately $20.

What would I be doing this time? A real estate office? Title company? I did a church once. Anyone who takes credit cards or accesses credit databases is subject to these business verifications. I’ve also done debranding audits, making sure someone isn’t still flying the logos of a franchise they no longer own.

Nope. None of the above. This was a vehicle verification. Someone had applied for a loan to buy a vehicle, and all I had to do was go take pictures of the vehicle, make sure it ran, and verify the VIN and the model number. Shoot six pictures and verify the VIN. What could be easier?

But the “vehicle” in question did not have four wheels and airbags. It had no wheels at all. It was a humongous excavation tractor, called a “track hoe.” I didn’t know this until I saw it. All I had been told was it was a “tractor.” I was picturing a common tractor with a front loader and a Gannon bucket, two big wheels on the back and two little wheels on the front, commonly used to move dirt around. I know people who own such tractors. They’re maybe 8 feet high.

Not this one. The “wheels” are like the “wheels” on an Army tank – the “track” in “track hoe.” And the cab I had to climb up into in order to take the picture of the VIN and the odometer wasn’t four feet off the ground, it was over ten feet off the ground. I had to climb on the axle to get on top of the “track” – which was about chest high to me. Then I had to scale the side of the thing, using three vertical “steps” and two skinny handholds, one of which was easily reachable from the track, the other of which I couldn’t grab until I was clinging precariously to the side of the beast.

Luckily, I had sense enough to ignore the “business casual” requirement for these jobs and was wearing my rubber-soled athletic shoes instead of pumps. And I had a denim jacket on over a polo shirt. My only deference to the dress code was wearing Dockers instead of blue jeans. I wish I’d worn gloves because to get onto the track I had to grab a metal protrusion at the front of the body and ended up with some grease on my hand.

Anyway, I made it up, got my pictures (the buyer offered to do it for me but one of the requirements is that we must take the pictures ourselves), and then carefully made my way back down the side. The trickiest part came when I had to transfer from the track to the ground because I couldn’t hold on and look down at the same time. I finally asked the guy how far I was from the ground and when he told me I was only a foot or so away, I was able to let go and drop to the ground.

It was a bit dangerous, since a misstep or fall would have certainly resulted in pain if not fractures, but I had come prepared and had an idea what I was getting into (I used to work for a construction company that had large earth-moving equipment, but nothing this big) so I just proceeded carefully and got’er dun.

Oh, I forgot to mention – I’m afraid of heights!

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