Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Straight Shooter

I need a little break from what I'm doing....here's a little story.

The funniest thing happened today at my real estate field rep job. In brief, for this job, I basically use a lead sheet to go to someone's house and ask them if they would like to refinance their home, or if they would be interested in selling us their home. Pretty basic job. A lot of driving. And MAN, do I meet some crazy-ass people (no, not crazy ass-people, which would be even funnier and smellier).

But I must admit, of all the jerks, drug addicts, liars, losers, and/or complete freaks I have had the pleasure of meeting during my tenure on this job, the guy I met today HAS to take the cake.
I walk up to this guy's house, and he is having a moving sale. I am instantly accosted by one of the people at his sale, who didn't have all his teeth. I think he was missing about three or four.

"Hey, man. You a real 'state agent?" he says in a southern twang. Odd, seeing as we are in Southern California.

"Nope. I work for an investment company. We buy homes, and kind of sell them later."

Toothless boy retorts "Damn, man. I am thinking 'bout buyin' some 'vestment propty myself. Turn 'round, sell 't, and get the hell out a here."

This is an excellent course of action for anyone to take...but let the record show that while he was saying this out of one side of his toothless mouth, he was buying a three hundred dollar clunker out of the other at this moving sale. Maybe he was going to stockpile enough three hundred dollar cars to buy him some 'vestment propty.

"So, you're not the owner here I take it?"

"Nah, man. I think he is." And he points me in the direction of K. I turn my attention away from my toothless entrepreneurial friend and walk over to him.

I notice in between the rather extensive collection of couches, other junk cars, broken glass, and miscellaneous kitchen appliances on the lawn that there is in fact a realtor sign up on K's property. Utilizing my world famous deductive reasoning ability, I concluded that this gentleman might could want to sell his house to me.

"Are you the owner her, sir?"

"Yup. I'm the owner."

And K stumbles over my way. K is tall. K is intimidating. And holy shit....K is DRUNK at 5:30 PM on a Wednesday afternoon. He has not shaved in weeks, and he is carrying a nearly empty fifth of Wild Turkey. He also has the brown paper bag it came with...but he has decided to remove the bottle so the whole world could see his drink of choice. K, as he would later self proclaim many, many times...is a "straight shooter"

"I notice your house is up for sale here, sir. Would you be willing to take an offer?" Now at this point in the conversation, most people usually take one of two courses of action. They either say "no" they arent interested, or they say "yes" and we get into a conversation about a whole bunch of crap. But K...K is very direct. He's a "straight shooter," you see.

"$500,000"

"Excuse me?"

"I'll take $500,000 and not a penny less."

"Well, ok...I..."

"You see, I'm a real straight shooter. I know what I want. And I want $500,000"

"Ok...but..."

"Yeah, the house is a little 'thrashed' but with that amount, I can pay off my debt, and have a little left over for myself." Thrashed. I like how he used the word thrashed. Keep in mind, I couldn't see the lawn. There were literally different appliances, clothes, and cars all over the lawn.

"I would show you the inside, but I'm kind of busy right now. Maybe tomorrow."

"Ok...Ok...what's your phone number."

"I don't got one."

"No cell? No home number?"

"Nope. I aint gonna lie. I'm a straight shooter."

"OK...what time tomorrow do you suggest? Tomorrow night?"

"Can't see the house at night. It's dark." He smiles.

I chuckle..."Well, you are a straight shooter, aren't you?"

"Yup."

I make a few phone calls while he goes into his house. He then gets into his car with his daughter? girlfriend? and starts to drive away. Now, this is odd because (a) we were in the middle of a conversation and (b) he just finished a fifth of Wild Turkey. Doesn't anyone think this is odd? Does his daughter not think this is odd? Does K not think this is odd?

"K...K...where you going?"

"I gotta go. I'm in a hurry." And seriously, the way he was moving, I started to wonder if the police were coming. He was a man on a mission. A drunken, Wild Turkey mission! "But you haven't given me your phone number yet."

I give it to him.

"OK...let's meet tomorrow between 3 and 4" he tells me. But remember, he doesnt have a phone. "If I have to cancel, I'll call you." Remember, he doesnt have a phone. "Your cell phone toll free?" Remember, this guy does not have a phone. "It's going to cost me like a dollar to call you." But dude, YOU DONT HAVE A PHONE. "Say, can you write down '3 to 4' next to your phone number...so I don't forget." Man, he is about twenty five sheets at this point.

So he agrees to meet...and he spends the next few minutes trying to get his truck to start as I walk back to my car. He swerves down the road...and I just laugh as I get into my car imagining all the important meetings K was running off to.....and how much Wild Turkey would be waiting for him when he got there.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

as smooth as ilk

I don't want to admit it, but one of my jobs is a sales job. I have ALWAYS told myself I would stay away from that heroine-diseased vein of life...but I guess we all eventually end up right where we were supposed to be. There are just some forces working on us that are out of our control.

I came to this realization about my job during a conversation I had my regional sales manager yesterday. If his title wasn't enough for me to figure my true position out, our "talk" was.

I quote "talk" because I wasn't the one doing a lot of the talking. He was. He talked...and he talked...and he talked. He asked me direct questions that weren't exactly direct, and he asked me indirect questions that weren't indirect. He pumped me up; he made me want to succeed, and he annoyed me. I don't say any of these things as an attack because they aren't. This guy is who he is, and he has to be him. I respect him because as least he is honest with himself, and isnt pretending not to be a salesman when he is one. See my first paragraph. Makes me wonder how much I honestly do respect myself.

Anyway, during this conversion, he asked me if I did anything else to supplement my income besides just work for our company...and I was honest and told him that I did. I told him I taught English for a few colleges. His next question is not one that shocked or surprised me, but a question you just get from someone with a different way of looking at life. Not a question you normally hear after telling someone that you teach, but I understood why he asked:

"So, there good money in teaching?"

I was with him on this one. He wasn't being rude. His question was making a point. He was being indirectly direct like he had the entire conversation. Six words...such a strong attack and summing up of our 30 minutes of chatting. He was telling me I was wasting my time, and that if I wanted to make a lot of money, I should devote myself to our company. He had already told me about our earning capacity, and how much room for growth there was. He told me how to make even more money, and he told me how much potential he saw in me. Asking about the money I made from teaching played all his cards, and he didn't bother with a poker face.

"Well, it's ok. But, it's not about the money. I really enjoy teaching."

A deflection on my part, really. It is how I feel. It is what I think. But this is not the guy. This was not the time. Men like this do not think in terms of enjoyment. They think in terms of money. Power. Materials. These are the things that get him going, and I totally get that.

A few minutes later, the circle returned to where it was always meant to begin. He asked me again, a little straighter this time:

"Yeah, but how well does it pay?"

He smelled it. He knew it. He was all over me, and he had obviously played this game before...poker face or not. What did he care; he just wanted to know who I was...and how much of the same ilk we came from.

"M-, I just really like doing it."

He wasn't satisfied, and he didn't get the answer I know he was looking for, but he finally backed off. I do know the he got the information he came to retrieve. He saw enough in me; a reflection of what he wanted to see...or at least, what I sold him on. See?

No matter how much I want to think I am not materialistic. No matter how much I try to be giving and caring and into teaching and that side of life...I know this other me is in me, like the Incredible Hulk or Dr Jekyll. I know I can be just American as the next guy, and when someone stands in front of me flashing dollar signs, and preaching about how much potential I have, I feel the pull. Sign me up for the Gestapo, mein freund.

So how can I even try to deny these truths inside myself when I can so easily relate to this guy? How can I deny that we do come from the same ilk when he doesn't even have to explain his actions, and I see the conversational twists and turns glaring right at me and yelling at me to just jump on board? It would be so easy.

The difference between the two of us is that for me, there is more to life than just money; for me, there is nothing more powerful than helping someone and feeling needed...using my time, my caring, my words to make a change. The reason I know that part of me will never be fully into sales, and money, and material, is because I choose when to play cards with the devil....and I choose when to close my eyes. People from a different ilk simply never get up from the table. They think they see it all.