Real Est-hate

, , , , , | Working | February 1, 2021

When I was working, I was transferred multiple times, and each time, I had to deal with buying and selling homes. What follows is the tale of the worst experience my wife and I had in a real estate transaction.

It began when I was given a four-plus year assignment from Houston to Canada. At the time, my company expected us to sell our house but in a recent policy change, they no longer provided assistance. (I can still hear the HR mantra, “We’re not in the real estate business,” in my sleep.)

So, we hired a realtor to market our house. The woman we chose was a Big Deal in the area. Her ads always described her business as “[Realtor] and Team!” as though she was bringing in superstars off her bench. Plus, there was a property manager associated with the brokerage to make it full-service.

The market was very slow at the time and we ended up leasing the house for two years. Near the end of the lease, we reactivated our agreement with [Realtor]. She recommended an aggressive price and we actually got an offer from what looked like an investment company.

Unfortunately, it was for 5% less than our asking price, which we thought was already low. I called up the realtor’s office to discuss the offer and, for once, got through to [Realtor]. I intuited from her voice that she was startled to be talking to me, but she persuaded me that the offer was okay and that she would be glad to take a 5% cut for one of her houses. As it turned out, this was the last conversation I’d ever have with her; the rest of the time I was talking with browbeaten underlings.

After we signed the sales contract via fax, there were two immediate surprises. The first was that the buyer was not the company itself but a woman on whose behalf they were negotiating, and the contract was flipped to her name. She was soon to be widowed and wanted to move to the area to be near her grown son. No problem.

But the second was that the selling price was raised by $48,000! They wanted to use the extra in a loan for her to put in an exercise pool. [Realtor]’s team assured me this was okay — it was before the 2008 meltdown — and we signed. To be fair, they added a statement that their commission would be based on the original sale price, as we’d get no extra equity. Things proceeded apace.

Then, the closing papers arrived. The first thing I noticed was that our proceeds were much greater than what we expected; all the extra money was listed as coming to us and not going into an escrow account for the pool. And there was a $26,000 charge for “repairs” on the house, a total surprise.

I called [Realtor] and, of course, got a team member. They had no idea what was going on. I called the property manager and she confirmed that no repairs had been done. It turned out that the “repair” company used burner phones and a rented private PO box, so there was no way to trace them. We refused to sign with all the problems — a good thing, as I found out later that we could have been arrested for fraud if we had.

For the next few weeks, we went back and forth trying to get the deal to go through, but the buyer’s realtor would not allow us to get the extra cash into an escrow account. [Realtor] was no help and her team was ineffectual; I had to do most of the leg work myself. Ultimately, I hired a lawyer to handle things. 

In the meantime, we got an offer to rent the home, which we wanted to take. The house had fallen out of the escrow time limit and my attorney informed the buyer that the sale was cancelled. And her realtor told us they would sue!

Two days later, my lawyer contacted me and told us that the buyer had never actually paid a down payment — something [Realtor] should have known — so there had never been a contract. If anyone was going to sue, it was us. That ended things. We got the renters in and eventually reoccupied the house when my assignment ended.

I tried to file a complaint against the buyer’s realtor but [Realtor] wouldn’t cooperate. I tried to find out who had supplied the phony repair bill but got nowhere. And I tried to get an authority to look into the repair company and the buyer’s loan officer, who had been party to all the shady moves, without success.

There is an epilogue. Three years later, I was moved again, this time with the company’s help. As part of the package, we had to pick a realtor that they had vetted and we got a good one. She did everything [Realtor] hadn’t and we got moved without a headache. However, while the house was listed, [Realtor] called my wife and had the gall to ask why we hadn’t selected her. My wife spouted some platitudes about our company’s requirements, but I am less polite. I sent her a long email outlining the problems we’d had with her representation; surprisingly, she never responded.

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Wearing And Tearing On My Nerves

, , , , , | Working | February 1, 2021

Three days a week, I work at a satellite location — a different location than where I am assigned. It is considered direct report. This means that I leave from home, arrive at the satellite location, leave the location, and go home — no need to stop at my assigned workplace.

It’s a Monday morning and I have to be at work early on this day: six am, to be exact. Fifteen minutes after I arrive, a disgruntled coworker arrives to relieve a graveyard coworker. She is notorious for hating to come out to the satellite location which boggles me because I love it. There’s no one to breathe down your neck or micromanage you. As soon as I see her, I know it’s too early for this.

Disgruntled Employee: *Immediately after arriving* “Good morning. [Graveyard Coworker], I’m sorry I’m late. I had to drive my personal vehicle here. This is ridiculous. How can they make us do that?”

I just stay silent and listen.

Graveyard Coworker: “I don’t know, Ms. [Disgruntled Employee].”  

Disgruntled Employee: “I mean, they’re not going to pay for gas or wear and tear, right, [My Name]?”

Me: “Do they pay for that stuff for you to drive to work normally?”

Disgruntled Employee: *Pauses* “Well, I’m just saying, what if I get in a crash on the way? I won’t be covered.”

I have already lost all patience as this has been a long time coming.

Me: “Seriously? You aren’t ‘covered’ now! You drive every day from home to work, work to home. How is this any different? Maybe if you went to [Assigned Place] first and then here, then maybe that would matter. But this is direct report. Home, here; here, home. That’s it. It’s simple. Stop finding something to complain about or quit. It’s that simple. You don’t expect gas and incidentals to show up to the [Assigned Place], so why in the h*** would you expect them to cover that for a direct report? It’s no different from your daily commute.”

Both were silent at this point. To put things in perspective, our satellite location is literally right down the road from where we are assigned. It’s not far or out of the way.

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She Doesn’t Smell What The Rock Is Cooking, Either

, , , , , | Working | January 31, 2021

One afternoon, I smell smoke as I am cleaning around my apartment. I spend a few minutes searching around to see if it is coming from anywhere in my apartment, and I poke my head out the window to see if someone is barbecuing outside, but I can’t find a source. So, I decide to call up the apartment office and let them know, at least.

Receptionist: “Hello, this is [Apartment]. How may I help you?”

Me: “Hi, this is [My Name] in apartment [number]. I just wanted to say that I smell a strong smell of smoke in my apartment, though I can’t actually see anything.”

Receptionist: “Hmm… Well, I don’t smell anything.”

There is a long pause after this, as I try to work out if she is joking and how I should respond. The apartment office is in an entirely separate building from any of the actual units in this complex, so her comment makes absolutely no sense.

Receptionist: “Well, bye!” *Click*

I considered calling back, but less than a minute later, the fire alarms in the building started going off, so I ended up evacuating. It turns out that there was a kitchen fire in the level below mine, though luckily it was contained enough that it didn’t spread before the fire department could arrive and put it out. The smell lingered for weeks, however.

But at least they couldn’t smell it in the office!

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Third Nurse Is The Charm!

, , , , , | Healthy | January 30, 2021

This story is pre-health crisis. One morning, I wake up with a sore throat. I assume I have the beginning of a cold and go on with my day. However, the sore throat does not go away. It gets worse over a twenty-four-hour period to the point where I can hardly swallow, and I develop a fever. I call my doctor’s office because in the past, this has indicated strep, and I make sure to tell the receptionist this. They tell me to come in right away.

I do so, and they take me into an exam room. I’m met by a nurse I’ve never seen before. This is normal, as there’s a nursing college nearby, and my doctor gets a lot of their recent grads.

Nurse #1: “Okay, we’re gonna do some bloodwork to check you for mono.”

Me: “Mono?”

Nurse #1: “You have all the symptoms.”

Me: “I have a history of strep. Isn’t [Doctor] gonna check my throat?”

Nurse #1: “We’re checking for mono.”

The nurse preps me for bloodwork. I am used to needles, as I have a chronic illness that requires frequent labs. However, this is a disaster. She attempts to stick me and misses the vein. Then, she starts digging around UNDER THE SKIN with the needle to attempt to hit the vein. I whimper.

Nurse #1: “Not used to bloodwork?”

Me: “Oh, I get plenty of bloodwork. Check my chart. I’m not used to someone digging under my skin with a needle. Ow! Can you stop?! I don’t think you’re gonna find the vein that way!”

She finally pulls it out and bandages it up.

Nurse #1: “I guess that vein wasn’t big enough! Let me get [Nurse #2].”

[Nurse #2], whom I’ve also never seen before, walks in, and with no warning, attempts to stick me in the same arm. She also misses the vein. She pulls the needle out of my arm and jabs me again in the same spot, harder. I shriek.

Me: Ouch! Seriously?!” 

Nurse #2: “Have you ever had blood drawn before, sweetie?”

I shoot her a look.

Me: “I have [chronic illness], so I have labs twice a year. Did any of you look at my chart?”

Nurse #2: “Oh. Your veins are very stubborn. Have they had trouble getting blood from you before?”

Me: “No. Never. Is there someone else that can help me?”

They get a third nurse, who has done my labs several times.

Nurse #3: “Oh, hey, [My Name]. How’s it going?”

Me: “Bad.”

Nurse #2: “Her veins are stubborn. What should we do?”

[Nurse #3] examines my arm and rolls her eyes.

Nurse #3: “You stuck her three times in one arm?! The answer is obvious. Use her other arm, and don’t stab her, either! I heard her scream down the hall!”

She leaves, grumbling under her breath. Thankfully, they take her advice. [Nurse #1] and [Nurse #2] then decide to test me for the flu which, as many of us know, is a very long swab up the nose. And they JAM it up my nose. So, now my nose, arm, and throat are throbbing.

Me: “Hey, um, is [Doctor] gonna look at my throat at all?”

Nurse #1: “He wants to start with this. Test results should be in tomorrow. You can go home now.”

I go home. The next day, I feel worse. The doctor’s office calls and says that both tests were negative.

Me: “Okay, but I’m still sick. Can I come back for a strep test?”

Nurse #2: “[Doctor] says that if you’re still sick after ten days, call us. Then he’ll talk about an antibiotic.”

Me: “But I can barely swallow.”

Nurse #2: “He said ten days.”

I live off soft foods, warm liquids, cough drops, and Aleve until day six when I can’t take it anymore. I can swallow a bit more, but I still have a high fever and my throat still hurts. I’ve also developed joint pain. I call the doctor back in tears. I finally get [Nurse #3], who apologizes and says she will speak with the doctor. She calls back a couple of hours later.

Nurse #3: “Okay, [My Name], [Doctor] has recommended an antibiotic. I called it in and put a rush on it. I know you’re feeling pretty miserable and you’ve been waiting a long time. I’m so sorry about that. I’m not sure why they made you wait.”

Me: “Thank you!

I felt A LOT better within a couple of days of starting the antibiotic.

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Makes You Sand-wish You’d Gotten Pizza

, , , , , , | Working | January 29, 2021

I’m coordinating lunches for an event coming up on a Saturday. There will be thirty-one teenagers to feed, so I’m shopping online for the best options at the lowest prices. I find that the best deal is a four-foot sub sandwich in the deli section of the local big box store. It says it serves sixteen to twenty, so I figure two of those will be just what we need.

On Tuesday, I try all day to call the deli to place the order, since there’s no way to place the order online. The phone just rings and rings with no answer. I finally decide to just stop in after work and place the order in person. The young woman behind the counter seems to be totally confused, having no idea what I’m talking about.

Employee #1: “We need twenty-four hours’ notice for special orders.”

Me: “Oh, there’s plenty of time. I just need them on Saturday.”

She eventually goes and gets a laminated menu card and I show her what I want to order. She goes into the back for a minute, I assume to retrieve an order pad. She comes back with a little notebook from which she tears a piece of paper. She writes down the kind of sandwich I want. I remind her, twice, that I need two of them, so she finally writes the number two with an arrow pointing to the name of the sandwich.

Me: “I would like to pick them up at noon on Saturday.”

She writes, “Saturday 12:00.” She acts like we’re all done.

Me: “Don’t you want my name or phone number?”

I finally insist that she write my name and number on the order.

By Friday, I’m worried that the order has been lost since I have absolutely no faith in the employee who took the order, so I try to call the deli again to confirm the order. Again, I try calling all day and get no answer. Finally, I go into the store in person. I see that [Employee #1] is there, and I’m not looking forward to dealing with her again, but she helps another customer who came in just ahead of me and [Employee #2] steps up to help me.

Me: “Hi. I’ve already placed an order for tomorrow and I just want to confirm it.”

Not wanting to directly insult his coworker, I tell a little white lie.

Me: “I’ve had a previous special order get lost, so I just need to confirm that you have the order and that I’ll be here tomorrow at noon to pick it up. My boss will have my head if I mess this up!” 

[Employee #2] goes into the back and comes back with the scrap of paper on which [Employee #1] had written the order.

Employee #2: “Yes, it’s here. We’ll make the sandwiches in the morning and see you at noon.”

You can guess where this is going, right? I arrived at the deli counter promptly at noon on Saturday to encounter [Employee #3], who had no idea what I was talking about, and absolutely no sandwiches made. She offered to do the only thing possible at this point: make the sandwiches as fast as she could. I agreed to come back in forty minutes, hoping my group wasn’t starving to death waiting for lunch, and she agreed to a discount for the trouble.

I picked up the sandwiches forty minutes later and headed back to our event with them. It was then that I noticed that the sandwich that was supposed to feed sixteen to twenty people had been cut into twelve pieces, so now I had twenty-four sandwiches to feed thirty-one people. Fortunately, our group was pretty cooperative about sharing, and with the other snacks and sides we had on hand, we managed to work it out.

I followed up by contacting the store manager, who replied, “I’m sorry we fell short,” and, “I hope you’ll give us another chance.” Not likely! A different big box store just a couple of miles away has the same sandwiches for just $2 more. Next time, I’ll spend the $2.

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