Ending The Week on a High Note

Tonight, I feel pretty good. I started this week on a very low note, as you can tell from my Mother’s Day entry. I thought about deleting it, but I try not to delete my writings. I’m hardly an author, but committing my thoughts to paper or cyberspace almost seems to be a snapshot in time of what I was thinking or facing at a particular moment. Losing my composure on a blog, while I’m not sure I want to face later, is still part of my past. That’s how I see it, anyway.

I went on Weight Watchers on Monday. I found out that they have an online program for men. My wife joined a few weeks ago, but she goes to Saturday meetings. I decided that since I am a computer geek anyway, and I don’t want to have to coordinate who’s going to take care of the kids when plus my travel schedule around meetings, I’d just go online. I started Monday afternoon. I made it through dinner and into Tuesday, when I went through that phase where gnawing my desk sounded like a good idea. I made it through Tuesday and into Wednesday, when we went to dinner at church. I’m not aware of many evangelical type churches that are friendly to dieters. We’ve tried to do Atkins in the past, and we know this very well. I basically ate reasonable and smaller portions than I normally would have.

Wednesday brought some challenges. I’ve written on this and my Blogger blog about the challenges we’re facing with selling our house. We reached a point with our previous Realtor of wanting to fire her. She wasn’t very responsive and she wasn’t getting people in the door. I got her broker involved twice. I deleted two blog entries from this blog, normally against my policy, but they were probably less than kind. The second time I called her broker, I had a 20 minute call with the Realtor, when I thought we resolved some communications issues and got back on track. After that, I started asking her what we have to do to get people in the house. She came back with the suggestion to do a short sale. I did some brief checking, and came back with "No way. A short sale is not possible." After that, she referred me to a mortgage broker and suggested we refinance.

We went back and forth, and she said she would let us out of our listing agreement to refinance. I asked in an email for an unconditional release. She came back and said that our listing agreement was null and void. Still needing to sell our house, we turned to a Realtor who is a professional contact of a good friend of ours. She was uncertain of our listing agreement release, so I called our previous Realtor to ask again for the unconditional release. I informed her that we can’t refinance; we need to get our house sold and if she can’t do it, we have to turn to a Realtor who can. She told us that was fine with her and wished us the best. The Realtor we listed with did a phenomenal job. She did more for us in the first 24 hours than the first Realtor had done in two months. She worked hard to get our house marketed. Her broker came to visit the house, as did several other Realtors from her brokerage. This had not been done by anyone from our first Realtor’s brokerage. It took her 30 days to print flyers for us, and took two days to get her sign and lockbox after letting us out of the agreement.

I got a call Wednesday afternoon while I was in the middle of my Weight Watchers-friendly lunch. It was the broker from the first Realtor, and she was fuming mad that we had listed with another agent. Apparently the first Realtor had been fired and left a huge mess behind, although I have no details. She said that our listing was only dropped to refinance. This woman would not shut up for two seconds to let me talk. I had to keep asking her to let me finish a sentence. I got spun up so fast I was shouting, and I had to leave the cubicle farm I work in to the hallway because I was shouting so loud and I figured the rest of the building deserved a chance to hear. Not really, but I needed to leave so I didn’t bother other people. I argued with her for several minutes. At one point, I got so mad I blurted out "This is why everybody hates Realtors!", a comment I had to spend time apologizing for. I told her that I asked for an unconditional release and she had a copy of that email. I told her that I told the Realtor that let us go from our listing that I intended to list with an agent who was willing to work, and she said that was OK. This broker through in a bunch of legalese and basically gave me the choice: sit out the rest of the listing agreement inactive (which is about the standard of service her agent had given us) or be assigned to another Realtor in her office. She had already called my new Realtor and demanded the listing be taken down.

I called the new Realtor, who has put a lot more work into selling our house than the first Realtor/brokerage. She has worked hard for us. I went back and forth between the two, feeling trapped. I am not a lawyer, nor am I a Realtor, nor do I have a desire to become one. The broker at one point offered a referral, to which the  new Realtor commented that she would do all the work and the broker would get the money. That is not fair.

Suddenly, at 2:35 PM, the broker called and said that she decided to call it a day; that we were free from our agreement. I asked her for something in writing, but she said that we have her word. Sure, her Realtor’s word wasn’t good. I called the new Realtor back, but she is not willing to work on this woman’s word, especially after the phone call that she got earlier in the day. I called the broker back at 2:40 to ask if she could fax something in writing to me. I had to leave the office by 3:20, and nothing came in by that time. I have no idea what prompted the change. Maybe the other Realtor left behind a mess so large she can’t cover it. Maybe she read my blog, which is linked in my signature file, or my Twitter feed and saw something documented in there that favors me. I have no idea.

On Thursday, I had to get up at 4:30 to get to the airport to catch a flight to Maine for a business trip. I asked my wife if she could take a form to the broker to get a signed statement that we were released from our listing agreement. After a day of meetings then going out to dinner with some people from my organization, I got back to my hotel room and sent my wife an email. I didn’t want to call in case she was trying to get the boys to sleep. My wife emailed me the following, to which I have edited out the names:

It is good that you are having a good time.  I got yelled at from (broker) this afternoon, and she wasn’t in the office.  I have already talked with (Realtor2) and let her know what happened.  The guy that was sitting at the front desk, told me she was at a meeting all day, and he went to the back and called her on her cell, and she told me she was getting ready to board a flight and will not be in the office until Monday, but another time in the call she said she would be gone for two days.  Nobody told her that I would be coming today to have the paper signed, even though I left her two messages this morning, and her voice mail did not say she would be out of the office.  I was ticked, that I wasted my time, and my Dad’s gas to get there.  So now I have to repeat the whole process Monday.

I left her a message on Wednesday afternoon. My wife left her two messages Thursday morning. My wife said that this woman was yelling at her so loud that she held the phone with her arm all the way extended and could still here her clearly. The first Realtor told me she was a difficult woman. This I believe entirely. After my comment about "everybody hates Realtors", this broker said that she had a long list of clients who would testify otherwise. My wife and I obviously are not among that list. How the heck can you stay in business when you don
‘t give anybody else a chance to talk and you just keep yelling at people? Maybe she’s friendly to higher priced homeowners, I have no idea. I assume she makes her money somehow, but it can’t be through friendly customer service.

After telling me about this woman yelling at her, I was ready to call the broker’s voice mail and let her know exactly what I thought about her treating my wife like that. I decided against it. I have a bad habit of going off half-cocked, and I really am working on overcoming it. I decided on another tactic. I spent the next two hours going though my email, call log, and calendar as I began drafting a narrative of events up to that point. I detailed the significant dates, like when we listed with the Realtor, when she didn’t show up for an appointment, when we had to call her broker, when she told us it was OK to list with another Realtor, everything that I had went into this. Bear in mind that I got up at 4:30 AM that morning and had a full day of travel and meetings. I was up until 11 PM working on that draft, which may work it’s way to the NJ Real Estate Commission as a complaint. Maybe I’ll just edit out the names and post it on this blog. Maybe I’ll fine comb it for any hint of libel and post it here in case somebody is searching Google for information on any of the people or brokerages involved. I’m not sure. It helped me clear my mind and organize my thoughts, and it also stopped me from making an angry phone call late at night. When I finally finished and tried to get to sleep, I couldn’t sleep for a while. I still had to get up at 5 AM on Friday.

Friday I got up, we finished the meetings, had lunch, and headed to the airport. Philly had some bad weather, so when we got to the airport around 2 PM, we found out that our 3:37 departure might not leave until after 7. Doh! We grabbed a table at the airport pub, which became our home for the next 5 hours. We made the best of a bad situation, drinking away the hours and discussing a mixture of business, family, and sea and college stories. We finally boarded the plane around 7. The pilot pulled away from the gate early, even though ATC said that our departure wasn’t until 7:48. He was hoping for an earlier departure. We sat on the tarmac. I re-enabled the data connection on my Pocket PC and posted to Twitter and read my Google Reader feeds until we could pull onto the runway and leave. We got back to Philly about 9 PM or so. I picked up my car and was home around 10:20. The kids were asleep. My wife’s sister got home, so I borrowed Grey’s Anatomy season 2 and watched the first episode while I wound down. Then Doctor G Medical Examiner came on around midnight. I haven’t watched that show in years, and sure enough it was a rerun that I had already seen.

Believe it or not, so far I’m enjoying the travel. I work with some really great people from a combination of offices in different locations. I’m home for the weekend, but on Monday I’m heading back down to Virginia for two days. I’m driving down. I pick up my rental car after church and I’ll leave early on Monday morning for an afternoon meeting.

I sure wrote a lot about that broker. My point was, I didn’t use it as an excuse to break from Weight Watchers (that came Thursday in Maine, when I was at a Mexican Irish restaurant with someone else driving and 20 oz Dos Equis.)

The look on the boys’ faces when they saw me this morning was priceless. They both came over to me and climbed into bed on either side of me. I put on Jimmy Neutron for a while and enjoyed being back with them. While my wife was at Weight Watchers, we played hide and seek, until I ran out of places to hide. I can’t quite get Joshua to understand that in hide and seek, you don’t hide in the same place and yell "I’m in here!"

For tomorrow, our church is having a luncheon for small group leaders and Munchkin Ministry members. The kids are with my in-laws tonight. Originally kids would not be allowed, but a lot of people couldn’t make it. By the time we were told that there would be room for kids, we had already made plans. We ate dinner tonight at Applebees, which has a Weight Watcher’s section of the menu. The Garlic-herb chicken was awesome! Then we spent some time together and did some cleaning. Now I’m blogging and then it will be time for bed.