At 11:30 yesterday morning, I am getting ready to help Carol in the sales office, filling in for her assistant, Kathy, who is on vacation. I have done this before, and Sunday’s hours are only noon to 5. This’ll be easy, I tell my cat Angie.
But then I look out a window and see there is already a car in the parking lot. Without taking time to change into more professional clothing, I hurry over to the clubhouse. There, I find a neighbor keeping a prospective buyer company. “She wants to go through the models,” he tells me.
“Sure, no problem,” I say confidently. “Carol will be here soon, and I can take you around in the meantime.”
Before we can get outside into the heat and humidity, a couple arrives, also wanting to see models. We walk maybe 10 feet down the sidewalk when yet another car drives up. Another couple joins our group, making me feel like a teacher on a field trip.
I am relieved to see Carol drive past us on her way to unlock the models. I sneak a peek at my watch and smile. Only 11:50, and I am already showing five people around
As we walk through the Abbey model, I am politely peppered with questions. What are the taxes? The association dues? The utilities? Is this bedroom bigger than the other one? Can I plant flowers? And, my favorite, can you tell me why I should buy here rather than at Del Webb?
Yes, as a matter of fact, I can. And I do.
After walking through the Promenade across the street, I steer them back toward the clubhouse. They are moving on to questions Carol should answer, not me. I’m just a homeowner volunteer, I say. Undeterred, one guy asks, Well, can’t you just give me a ballpark estimate what this upgrade might cost?
No, as a matter of fact, I can’t. And I don’t.
By then, I am looking forward to a little break in the air-conditioned sales office. But when we walk by the parking lot, I see that won’t be happening. A couple more cars have pulled in while we were out.
Two new faces greet me in the clubhouse, but not Carol. I know she will be out on her golf cart, showing someone else around. So I reassure my first group that if they can’t wait for her, Carol will call them as soon as possible.
Then I welcome my new people, and it begins all over. There is always someone waiting for Carol, always someone for me to show around. Though most my memories of the next three hours are a blur, here are a few that pop out:
• I talk with two other retired teachers and another self-published author.
• Carol learns one woman lives on the same street that she used to.
• I am not insured to drive the golf cart, nor have I ever driven one. In the afternoon heat, a prospective buyer offers to drive his wife and me around, and I take him up on it, though I shouldn’t have.
• I overhear Carol saying she recently learned that 97% of home-buying decisions are made by women.
• Right after that, a guy comes in alone, saying his wife refuses to get out of the car because she doesn’t want to live this far out. Our chances of snagging him look grim, but we try anyway.
Sometime in mid-afternoon, we order a pizza. It is an hour and a half before we are both free at the same time to share it. And before we finish, the front door opens again.
By the end of the day, we will have welcomed 12 groups of new buyers, as well as one under contract and another who has visited several times. By then, I am totally, unequivocally convinced that selling homes is a lot harder than it looks.
A little after 4, storm clouds begin building. I go out to wheel our garbage bin to the curb. While I am out, a neighbor approaches to talk to me in my role as resident trustee.
I am happy to do this because he has had complaints, and this is the first time he has discussed them with me. As we talk, the storm hits so we move under the roof, but with the wind, that doesn’t help much. Finally, we agree to talk again later. I hurry inside, my hair plastered to my scalp and water running down my face.
I look at the clock, which, blessedly, says 5. Carol thanks me profusely and offers me an umbrella. Exhausted, I trudge home with a deeper understanding of the expression “rode hard and put away wet.”
But now, 24 hours later, here’s the crazy part. I realize I had a blast. I can’t wait to work again Wednesday. By then, I should have recovered from yesterday.