I have been a part-time agent for nearly a year now, but I still write a lot. For one thing, it provides a dribble of steady income; for another, it’s in my blood. I had been a reporter for nearly two decades when I started showing houses, and I still have an ingrained tendency to ask questions like a reporter. And I love writing; sometimes when I don’t know what I think about something or how I feel about it, I’ll start writing and the answer will simply come out. Maybe a musician experiences the same sense of peace sitting down at the piano, I don’t know.

So earlier this week I had an interview I had to do for a column. The subject was a big-shot New York City broker, and when I interviewed him he asked after my sponsoring broker, so I ended up calling into the office. There was drama on the other end of the phone line: my sponsoring broker sounded tired, defeated. He didn’t mention that anything specific was wrong, but he did have a strong “I’ll just put my head in the oven,” tone in his voice. So on a day when I was thinking about typing, not listings, I went into the office anyway, picking up a half-dozen Gerbera daisies along the way, bright pink ones.

They did little good; it turns out Candace, our star agent, had left. Anyone who has been in the brokerage business for any length of time will tell you that poaching is periodic, that good agents migrate for better access or better splits, and that sometimes firms go on recruiting sprees for whatever reason. This time, one of the bigger firms picked up one of our mainstays. My sponsoring broker asked me what I’d do, and I said, well, go poach some people to replace her. And then, almost as an afterthought, I said, I’ll step up my game.

He offered me her computer, and I kinda went, yeah, whatever … but later, after I left the office, it really began to take hold of my imagination. Sure, I’ll just sit in Candace’s chair, and I’ll just … become Candace. I’ll have to work more steadily, sure, but business will follow business, and I’ll go on shopping sprees for nice clothes, and my sponsoring broker will cheer up again.

It’s funny how psychology works, because it’s almost like the will to succeed on my own and for my family was one thing, but now I feel like my older sister has left home and I have to feed my “brokerage family.” In real life I am the youngest of three so I had no such obligations, but now in office life I feel like I have to go sit in the big chair and pull everyone through, like it’s the Great Depression or something. My father has been dead for 20 years, but I want sponsoring broker “Dad” — who is probably all of 10 years older than me, if that — to feel like I’m gonna come through for him.

So I put on the mantle. The very next day, I went through 156 listings for one of my buyer clients, and made two new appointments for her. For a different buyer client, I got a soup-to-nuts preview description of an apartment, from the color of the kitchen shelving to the condition of the hardwood floor to the view out the living room window. Whew, this sitting in the big chair sure is a lot of work.

Then it occurred to me, hey, wait a minute; aren’t there other agents in our office? I’m being brainwashed. Our star agent may have left but our sponsoring broker ain’t dead yet. He’s not a bad salesman, that guy.

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