Tuesday, March 1, 2011

There is a House in Steuben

If you are unfamiliar with my area, there is a county to the South called Steuben. A good majority of the county is rural... a beautiful place to take a relaxing Sunday drive.

It is not unusual to have a client that is searching for the delightfully rustic home away from the the Rochester urban center. Since I service Western NY, I often find myself in Steuben, usually trucking over acreage, checking out old farm houses and cabins... even climbing into the tops of barns. After a few times doing this, I decided that when showing some properties of this nature, my attire would have to change. I have ruined many pairs of pants and shoes.

Whenever I am showing homes, I usually dress in a suit, pressed shirt, tie and my hard black dress shoes. This one client of mine, who was looking for a Steuben home with some land, always ribbed me about my attire. When we would meet, he would often quote a line by Arnold Schwarzenegger from the movie "Predator".

"What's this 'bleeping' tie business?" He would say in a really bad Austrian accent.

I would reply with thick sarcasm that his greeting never got old, and we'd chuckle about it. On this one occasion, it was the same. I pulled up to a vacant farmhouse that we were going to take a look at. He pulled up right behind me. He was early which was a first. I had contemplated stopping to get gas because I was on empty, so it was a good thing I opted to stop after this appointment (I always get to the houses early because I never like my clients to be waiting for me).

As we met in the drive he commented on my clothing. We laughed for a bit, exchanged some other quips, then discussed the potential home.

"This is a house that has been vacant for a little while", I told him. "The current owner moved in a couple of years ago and wanted to fix it up, restore it back to the charm it once had. Unfortunately, it wound up being more of a chore than he expected and it didn't end well. According to what I was told, his funds ran out. His wife was so upset with him that they wound up divorcing and now they live apart. She moved back to her hometown in Georgia... even took the dogs with her. When we go inside, you'll see that there are some projects that he finished, and some that are in various stages on completion."

This was fine for my client because that was exactly what he was looking for. He was a handy guy, and wanted to basically do what the current owner wanted to do.

With excitement, we entered the home and began our tour. Indeed, the house needed work, but the items that were finished were really well done. The empty house really had potential. My client was in love... We spent a good deal of time in the home, looking over all the improvements and investigating what still needed to be done.

"I don't know, Mike. This may be the one," he said as we walked around the first floor. "I'm actually leaving right from here and heading back to Ohio, so I will have the drive to think some things over."

He was in the process of relocating to Rochester for his job. His wife and kids were still in Ohio, waiting for him to find a home and get settled. On weekends he would head home to see the family, do some laundry, and relax before heading back to Rochester on Monday morning. I really wanted to find him a home fast so that he could stop making this weekly trek, so to hear that this house was a contender was good news.

As we stood there talking, my client swatted his arm as if to kill a mosquito. I thought nothing of it. He continued to talk, but then began investigating the area he just slapped on his forearm. I asked if everything was okay.

"Something bit me, " he said. That's when I noticed little black dots on his shirt.

"Come here and turn around, " I asked him. Upon doing so, I discovered he was covered in tiny black bugs. FLEAS!

We started looking ourselves over and we were both covered in the critters! We immediately left the house and began swatting the things off of us.

"I hope they are not in my hair!" He said. We brushed ourselves off, getting rid of the ones we could see, but there were probably more. Apparently, these buggers were starving since the dogs left, and us walking into the place screamed "buffet"!

"Well what are we going to do?" he asked, " I don't want to be driving for four hours with fleas."

I agreed, "Yeah, and I don't want to track these back to my office or home."

The decision was made that we would have to change. Fortunately, since he was heading back to his home, he had a suitcase filled with clothes.

"I'm going to change into some dirty clothes, " he said, "I have a few pieces of clean stuff I can loan you till I see you next." That was fine with me. I felt like they were all over me! We would take turns changing in the garage of the house, then seal our contaminated clothes up in plastic bags so that we would not carry any of these things back to our homes.

He retrieved his luggage from his car, opened a suitcase, and tossed me a bundle of clothes. He pulled some out as well and we changed in the garage in shifts. Using some duct tape and garbage bags that I had in my car, we bundled up our clothing and made sure they were sealed up tight.

As we finished, my client looked at me and laughed. There I was, wearing a pair of tight grey shorts (he was a bit thinner than I, so the sizes were a bit snug}, a pink t-shirt advertising some restaurant from his town, no socks, and my hard black wing-tip shoes. I looked like John Travolta from that one scene in "Pulp Fiction" right after Quentin Tarantino hoses him and Samuel L. Jackson off in the back yard. I looked ridiculous.

"You look ridiculous," he said laughing.

"They're your clothes!" I said in retort.

"It wouldn't be so bad if you were wearing different shoes, " he added, "Unfortunately I don't have a pair for you to wear."

I laughed, "That's okay, I'm heading directly home from here. I don't think anyone will see me like this."

With the drama now over, we began to part company. Despite the fleas, he was still interested in the home. We said our goodbyes with the plan that we would talk on Monday. He got in his car and headed back to Ohio.

"Dear God," I prayed, "Please don't let anyone see me looking like this."

Climbing into my car, I threw my bag of clothes in the back seat and turned the ignition. It was at that point that I realized I needed to stop for gas.

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