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Being somewhat new at the Realtor business, and still learning the chains .. er .. ropes, getting ready to hold an Open House at a seller's home can be smooth, or it can be fraught with myriad details of getting it all together before guests start arriving.
Worrying if you did enough marketing to bring people in. Wondering if anyone will bother navigating their way through the jungles of East Hawaii without getting lost. Doing an Open House at someone else's listing, not knowing what to expect when you arrive. Hoping you boned up enough on details of the house, the neighborhood, and market analysis.
They didn't instruct us how to do this particular activity in real estate school. You pick up a few tips along the way from friendly colleagues. But, who knew you should always carry a broom, dust pan, Windex, 409, a wad of paper towels, trash bags and probably a bunch of other stuff to someone else's house? A ladder? Yeah, even a ladder. But, I catch on quickly.
Despite a noon start time, your morning is busy with details and following up on details you already took care of to make sure you caught all the details.
Flyers printed. Business cards ready. Sign-in log. Map to the other Open Houses through my brokerage. Pens. Cookies, water, cups I didn't have to worry about, because my years-experienced colleague brought them.
A friend, Jason followed me to the home of friends who've been borrowing one of my ladders for a DIY gazebo project. He helped me load the heavy beast into the back of my Flex. The open house had a smoke alarm with a near-dead battery, making a very annoying chirping noise. Yes, we might even sometimes have to change a client's battery.
But I’m not complainin'. I'm just remarkin'.
Before arriving at the home, I put Open House signs on the highway at the top of the hill, hoping interested lookers would keep their interest long enough to reach the turn, 3 miles down the road. (Note to self: extra Open House signs strategically placed might help so they don't lose their way .. or lose interest.). My colleague placed a sign at the last turn, but it's still another mile, at the end of the road.
Ahead of me, my colleague arrived at the unoccupied (but staged) home to find a flock of six of seven chickens, and at least one fat rooster. My chefery skills caused me to give a moment's consideration of Coq-au-vin for dinner, looking at that one. And scanning around the home gifted my colleague with three freshly laid eggs. Score. Ok, and maybe the cock serves his purpose in the harem. I'll spare him his demise in my pot.
We busied ourselves sweeping floors, patios, wall-clinging cobwebs and leaves from the last wind storm. It seems Hawaii's bountiful bugs, left without a food source, soon perish. One early arriving visitor refused to step over one such insect onto the back patio, until I scurried it way with my broom.
Can I just stop here, a moment, to inquire why those battleship-sized cockroaches, when found dead, always present their legs into the air? I've never watched a cockroach in the throes of death, but I'm imagining some Oscar worthy performance. One of it's six legs starts kicking, separate from the others, catapulting it onto it's back, while the others just wobble about, stop. Wobble some more, stop. Wobble a little more. You know, like Pee Wee Herman in Buffy the Vampire Slayer? Yeah, I'm sure that's how it goes down. Pee Wee deserved an Oscar for that one.
(Next note to self: be sure to include a list of pest control companies on one of the web pages of our forthcoming website!)
"Oh no!" my colleague exclaimed. "I was shooing the gecko out of this bedroom's sliding glass door, and a chicken ate him! I was trying to save his life." Cluck, cluck. Yum, yum.
Chirp. Chirp. Oh, the damned smoke detector. Out comes the ladder from the back of the Flex and precariously set, straddling a corner of the dresser, abutting the bed frame, and hanging partially out the bedroom door. The detector was mounted high up the wall to the vaulted ceiling. That was a chore. The 9-volt battery compartment was persnickety and I neglected to pay attention to the way the old battery had been positioned. The warm air collected in the ceiling area made me sweat like a lady afraid to step across a dead cockroach.
But, I got it in, and the chirping abated. Ladder returned to the Flex (the back hatch of which I left open to access other cleaning materials.
Visitors came. Visitors went. The guy who's remodeling 10 streets down, a home he was flipping, refused to believe this home was 1500 square feet.
"It's too big. I don't believe it," he proclaimed. I showed him the county record online. "You should …" do this, do that, repaint, tear that out .. Offering helpful tips on how to sell it faster. The house had been repainted this past November, both inside and out. Maybe not everyone's choice of color. Colors?
When I noticed the back hatch of the Flex still open, I used the key fob to remotely close it, thinking it didn't look as inviting to visitors.
A few more visitors come and go. A couple just looking for ideas for their remodel. A fellow doing the same, for when he bought land and started building his own home. A retired couple from Idaho who've been care-taking a farm up north for an even older couple. One of Jason's clients happened by, inquiring of a few things. One woman drove up, sat in her car, then drove away. Maybe it was the chickens. I went to my car to return the bottle of Windex I'd used to clean glass coffee tables.
"There's chicken in my car!" I exclaimed to my colleague.
A damn chicken had flitted into the back of my Flex when the hatch was up. When it saw me approach the car, it started flapping around hysterically, probably squawking at the top of it's little chicken lungs and figuring I had in mind to put it in a pot for dinner.
All I could think was "Oh great. All kinds of fresh chicken manure throughout my car."
The chicken didn't take the hint when I used the remote to open the back hatch. It sat agitatedly in my back seat, looking for it's way out. Not exactly the smartest bird from the nearby jungle forest.
I opened the back door to shoo it out the hatch. It obliged.
"An egg!" I exclaimed, and started laughing like I'd just heard the punch line from the best comic at the comedy club.
Looking down at a black cloth laying on the floorboard of my back seat was a perfect hen's egg. I picked it up and felt it still emanating warmth from its mother's body. I laid it on the console in the front seat and regretted thinking the chicken dumb.
My colleague left to grab something to eat. I'd taken time to make a fritatta for breakfast, so didn't need anything.
Between visitor's, I sat down on a love seat in the living room. I had a view out the French doors to the back patio, and its cushioned chairs at the table with cat food dishes atop it. I was enjoying the quietness surrounding the random wild bird noises and occasional clucks.
A hen flitted atop the table and pecked at the cat food. Then it settled onto the cushion of the chair. It scratched at it, settled onto it, stood up, pecked at more cat food, roosted on the cushion again.
I recall when I was little more than a toddler having to collect eggs from the hen house on the wildlife management area in Texas where my father was a biologist. A Dalmatian twice as tall as me (so it seemed at the time) was temporarily in residence with us, and it was a not always successful effort to get the eggs to the house without the giant dog knocking me and the eggs to the ground. I wouldn't be surprised if those chickens feasted on horny toads, or maybe even baby rattle snakes.
I'd seen chickens getting ready to lay an egg. I recognized this little dance the cat food-pecking hen was doing. I'd learned unnoticed eggs hidden in bushes near the hen house might have been there long enough to reach their expiration date.
I started videoing the dance in shorter segments so I could upload it somewhere. I hoped I'd catch the egg falling from the cloaca, like some moment in a natural history documentary. Distraction being the only moment I had, I missed the actual split second, catching only the pre- and post- moments of this miracle thing called an egg. Sigh.
Four things I learned or was reminded at this Open House:
First. Chickens will eat just about anything, with or without legs.
Second. A verifiably fresh egg in the hand is worth two suspicious eggs in the bushes.
Third. There can be unexpected bonuses to spending your day showing houses on a sunny, three-day weekend's Sunday.
Fourth. If I don't make it as a Realtor®, I can probably rent out my Flex as a hen house.
So, thank you Miss Henny. Breakfast today was eggs over easy, atop homemade potatoes O'Brien and Spam. (Oh, come on .. You know Spam is a thing in Hawaii, right?)
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