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The Fortune-Telling Real Estate Agent

You learn many talents working as a real estate agent, as Jennifer has come to realize. Working with a demanding couple incapable of reason, she is faced with the option of fighting to keep them under contract or letting them walk away. Will her competitive streak win or will she choose to just--walk away?



They should give you a marriage counselor certificate after you’ve been a real estate agent for more than ten years, Jennifer thought. She was currently in the kitchen, appearing to look busy examining the custom cabinetry. Her clients on the other hand were busy on the deck discussing if they could handle the dark hardwood floors, whether or not there were just a few too many trees in the yard, and should they settle for an eight-foot kitchen island when a ten-foot island has so much more appeal.


Scratch that, it wasn’t much of a discussion. It was a full-fledged campaign speech by the obviously coddled young wife to her bewildered husband. It was beyond apparent that should he dare to voice any words contrary to her, it would be equivalent to a vote against their very existence.


Jennifer walked past the butler’s pantry and eyed the array of full bottles. Tempting, especially with these two in tow all day long.


She was an accomplished agent, one well-versed in the many personality and relationship types that invariably came through her office. But these two, they took the cake. She gave them two years, tops. Then whatever invisible strings held this union in place would be shredded. He would seek solace with work, women, or alcohol. Heck, maybe all three at once. His wife would be so busy wanting more, she would keep encouraging him to spend more hours at the office, oblivious to the obvious. Until word got around. Then she’d have ‘Daddy Dearest’ pay for the city’s biggest attorney, only to discover the money was long gone and the house over-mortgaged. A pity, really.


Jennifer’s phone vibrated and she smiled as she saw her husband’s name on the caller ID.


“Hey you,” Jennifer said.


“Wow, what a surprise. I didn’t think you’d pick up. I thought you were going to be out with clients all day,” John said.


“Oh I am.”


“How’s it going?”


“Mmmmm.”


“That bad, huh? Is it the house? Perhaps an extraordinary, complete collection of porcelain kittens in baby bonnets?”


Jennifer laughed, “No, not quite. It’s actually beautifully designed and furnished.”


“Ah, so that means it’s the clients. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde? Or perhaps Bonnie and Clyde aiming to rob the sellers of all their equity?”


“Something like that. What in the world are you doing?” Jennifer asked as she heard doors open and close and rummaging over the phone line.


“Getting out the good bottle of wine so it will be waiting on you as soon as you get in.”


“I always love your Spidey sense. One of your more remarkable attributes.”


“Don’t I know it? I am quite the rare vintage.”


“Oh boy, here we go.”


“Should I count you in for dinner tonight, or just the after-drinks?”


“It’s looking like just the after-drinks.”


“I’ve got our favorite table reserved on the patio, surrounded by the twinkling lights I just happened to install today. When you arrive, the code-word is ‘best husband’ or the alternate of ‘I’m going to need a bigger glass’; either will work.”


“I’ll keep that in mind. Wait a minute, you put up the lights? I told you I’d help you with it.”


“Nah, it was no big deal.”


“Well, a rare vintage can also be easily damaged. You have to take precautions.”


“Touché.”


“Oh, hey, I gotta go, here they come. Call you later, love you! Bye!”


“Love you too, bye,” John said.


The leader and her minion opened the rear door and came back inside. Jennifer noted that the husband’s eyes were downcast and he shuffled behind his wife as if preparing himself for the ridiculousness of the conversation to come.


“We’ve decided that the doorknobs are a deal breaker,” the leader said.


“I’m sorry, did you say the—the doorknobs?” Jennifer asked.


“Yes, we really need a turnkey place.”


“Doorknobs are a very quick and easy fix—” Jennifer attempted to say.


“No, we cannot consider it. We must move forward with other options. We’ve been looking for a very long time now, two months, and have not found any adequate options. It’s in our best interest to pursue working with an agent who has a better understanding of our needs. Clearly these doorknobs and dark flooring are ludicrous for us to even consider.”


Jennifer had a dozen quick responses come to mind and felt the competitive streak that fueled her success palpably rise. But then, she paused. And that pause was critical. More than anything else, she valued her peace. Peace would be the last thing she would ever have should she continue this farce of a home search. The commission simply…wasn’t…worth it. And so she did something she had never done before.


“Our agreement is due to expire in 21 days, I'll let you out early. Send your notice of termination to my assistant, Katie. Here is her card. The front door is this way. I wish you the best,” Jennifer said.


The husband looked apologetic as he stopped at the door to shake Jennifer’s hand, while his wife was already in the car. “I’m really sorry,” he said.


“No worries, I wish you luck with house-hunting,” Jennifer replied. And with living with that one, she thought to herself.


Jennifer locked up the house, got into her car, and dialed John.


“Hello,” John answered.


“About those dinner plans—looks like I’ll be able to make it after all.”


“Hope you still remember the secret code.”


“I think I’ll use them both—best husband AND I’m going to need a bigger glass.”


“A two-for-one? Let me get the flowers ready too.”


“Hah—see you soon,” Jennifer said as they ended their call.


Their patio was perfect. The sunset of brilliant oranges and pinks accentuated a beautiful end to the day that had seemed impossible when she glanced at her planner earlier that morning. Jennifer would remember this day for a very long time to come. Sometimes being successful is knowing when to walk away.


 

Three years later, Jennifer walked into the office balancing a purse, a tote, a coffee, and bagels and doughnuts for the office. Her assistant Katie saw her struggle and walked over to help carry the load.


“Hey Jennifer, you’re never going to believe this,” Katie said.


“I doubt it, but go ahead,” Jennifer replied.


“You’ve got a meeting with Mark Winslow. You have to remember the Winslow’s.”


“Oh dear God, please tell him I’m overbooked and unable to take on new clients.”


“That’s just it. He and his wife, Sarah, are looking for a house.”


“I thought his wife’s name was Mary, Maria, something like that. No, Morgan--that’s it.”


“It was,” Katie said and then paused for effect. “He mentioned he is newly wed as of seven months ago.”


Jennifer and Katie looked at each other and laughed. “I think I gave them two years back then, didn’t I? One of the many skills of selling real estate—marriage fortune-telling.”


“Well, I bet you didn’t foretell him investing in a start-up after his divorce was final. A very successful start-up. Their budget is oh, about quadruple what it was back then.”


“You don’t say. Well, it sounds like he found his voice and his peace. And knew when to just walk away. Now, about these bagels—better take advantage of having first pick before the rest of the office gets wind.”


Jennifer walked into her office to put her things down as her phone started ringing. She glanced at the clock and remembered she would be working with Gladys and George today. That spritely couple of a certain age, who never stopped laughing and poking fun at each other. They put smiles on the faces of everyone they met.


It was going to be a good day.

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