As I write this, it is Mother’s Day. It’s that time-honored day when the adoring children call back to the nest (or, in my case, tweet, text and tag) to share their love and gratitude in a conversation that goes something like this: "Happy Mother’s Day. Love you. OK, bye."
Then, there is the special Hallmark moment, of course, when husband of nearly a decade showers me with flowers, candy and a commemorative breakfast, which only leaves me thinking that it’s too bad the flowers don’t match the color scheme — and something about how much more special I will be tomorrow having consumed a 4-trillion-calorie Western breakfast with a one-pound chocolate buttercream chaser.
All the reverie aside, the best thing about Mother’s Day is arguably the free pass to attempt some "me" time. Once we have dispensed with the rituals, I know I have permission on this one occasion to unapologetically do whatever it is I would like to do.
This is a rarity for a real estate agent; in fact, I have worked countless Mother’s Days, New Year’s Days, and everything in between over the years. This year, however, I was steadfast in my commitment to turn off the business.
So, what do real estate agents do for fun? I contemplated the mall, but quickly dismissed it as a lower priority on the fun scale and despite the fact that there were probably some really rocking-cute shoes waiting for me in the holy land. Cute shoes aside, I suspected it would require too much movement.
I finished the crossword puzzle before I finished the coffee. Seems I was pretty smart this morning. Now what? A book, an old movie, a mimosa? No.
Although the mimosa was tempting, what I really wanted to do was catch up on writing — here and on my little, lonely blog — because, regardless of what Case or Shiller (the home price index guys) might tell you, my real estate world has been overwhelmingly frantic lately.
I’ll trade you three reams of Ivy League spreadsheets for one agent having to buy more lockboxes for the first time in 10 years, every day of the week, if what you want is a reliable economic indicator.
Deliberations over, we had a winner. Write, I would. And thus I proceeded to spend the first three hours of my "me" time (not counting the crossword puzzle) penning a little 1,200-word ditty that, upon rereading, sounded like the latest episode of "Kris channels Eeyore on the Coming of Armageddon."
The piece was centered around an event from the past week, the likes of which we encounter on nearly a daily basis, save the particulars: Customer asks to see home; customer swears on their childhood hamster’s grave that they are renting, prequalified, and not working with an agent; customer thereby deploys the efforts of one referring broker and a willing and qualified agent to do research and schedule a showing appointment; and then customer sends a follow-up email.
"I am actually not interested in viewing the property in (this community) any longer. It was for a school project at Cal State San Marcos, and we have decided to go in another direction," she wrote. "I apologize for any inconvenience."
Inconvenience? No way! That’s what we do. We work days, nights and weekends. We chase our tails for fun, not for a livelihood or anything. The possibility of actually getting paid someday, at the back end, never crossed our minds because this isn’t so much a career but a hobby. Let’s call it our "me" time.
Now, when I am on my game, I can take that little anecdote and find 12 different deep-thinking industry angles on which to pontificate. But, as this special day’s honoree, one who is in carefree mode, I suddenly found the humor. Maybe we can help her spell-check her take-home midterm exam — if she hasn’t already gone "in another direction."
With my latest epic safely filed in the now overly bloated "works in progress" folder, I still needed — no — wanted to write something. I could write about analytics like Gahlord Dewald does. The problem is that he kind of has a different approach. He actually analyzes stuff.
My last attempt at an analytic adventure involved looking at my blog, confirming it was still there, and seeing I had gotten a single comment from someone named "Charlie Sheen" who tended to agree with whatever it was I wrote about two weeks ago. Everything seemed in order to me.
Then I remembered that I got an iPad this week, an event that was undoubtedly newsworthy. But then I also remembered that Teresa Boardman has already pretty well covered that topic — except she forgot to mention the part about the learning curve.
It took me a full four days to take it out of the box (I wish there was an app for that) because of something to do with having to buy more lockboxes and refer a bunch of "buyer" inquiries to our gamer agents. And it took me another 48 hours to attempt to figure out what the heck to do with it. I still haven’t entirely conquered that last mountain, but I am getting closer.
The thing is, I waited because I wanted to be sure. I researched, I studied, and I looked at the alternatives (between my pro bono work on term papers), all the while haunted with the notion that the iPad 3 would probably hit shelves at precisely the moment I swiped my credit card.
And, sure, I read and reread the countless articles on the "10 Best iPad Apps" and the "49 Best Ways to Use Your iPad to Make Boatloads of Easy Money in Real Estate." (The latter presumably involves bludgeoning random people with the device long enough to steal their checkbook, but that’s a topic for another time.) The point is, like every other "tool" in our enlightened, innovative, high-tech arsenal, you can’t just plug it in and go fill out the deposit slips.
I quickly realized that this was going to be a process, not an event — at least from the standpoint of a productivity and business development tool. My primary goal was always to have a ceremony in which I would set fire to all of my listing presentation books while my iPad and I looked on with superior, mocking smirks.
But the problem is that I am not stereotypical of the female persuasion. I would rather they find my lifeless, shriveled corpse still clutching the steering wheel in some random subdivision, having missed my listing appointment 32 days ago, than stop to ask directions. And I shun manuals and tutorials. I have yet to find anything that can’t be found, fixed or installed with a Phillips head, a glue gun, and an arsenal of really bad words.
Unfortunately, my talking device is a Droid, so the whole iPhone (and therefore iPad) experience was not an intuitive one. One gander at Keynote, the much-touted small-screen equivalent to the desktop version for Mac or to PowerPoint, confirmed that I had some work to do. So instead I set about conquering the basics: bookmarking my favorite sites, turning it on and off, holding it up to the light and ogling — stuff like that.
But I have an iPad now! Just like everyone’s been saying I should lest I be cast as an extra in "Jurassic Park IX." Or, put another way, it’s kind of like having that Facebook page everyone said I needed to have, the one where I began friendless and evolved to the point where I acquired friends only to alienate them by ignoring them. I’ve got one, but simply having one isn’t enough. One should always have a plan. Alas, plans take time.
I had another listing appointment yesterday, and I showed up armed with a shiny new factory-issue lockbox, a big, bound listing book, and my new device sure to impress. Sure, I hadn’t quite had the time to migrate the actual presentation over to the small screen, but I brought my new productivity tool for insurance. And, at the appropriate moment — and believe me when I say you could almost hear the air suck from the room — I whipped it out.
"Look! Here is my website … right here … on my iPad!"
The funny thing is: She didn’t care. She didn’t care about my iPad or my listing book. She didn’t care about my awe-inspiring marketing plan, my market statistics, or even my raving past-client testimonials.
All she cared about was getting her home sold — fast. It seems, on this day before Mother’s Day, her own parent had a terminal illness. She had no money for repairs, and her parent had little time. She needed to sell so that whatever equity existed could be redirected toward doctors’ bills.
At that moment, I was reminded that our business is not about tweets and pokes and posts. It is not about gadgets and widgets and new technologies, except to the extent that they make us better at what we do. It is about connecting and communicating. It is about meeting the needs of our clients.
And I wrote this from my iPad, so that’s something I suppose.