I’LL HAVE A BLOODY MARY, A STEAK SANDWICH AAAND A STEAK SANDWICH

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Archive for April, 2009

DO YOU SEE WHAT I’M DEALING WITH IN REAL ESTATE?

Sooooo, I’ve been pretty busy lately.  With lots of things, but definitley real estate.
I have long said that i should write a book (Office style) of the life and happenings of a competent agent.  I’m not sure if it would be a drama or a comedy.

I have maaaaany entries for my ever growing tome (crazy/ridiculous/unbelievable things happen everyday in this business).

Though a mild incident, the following vignette is just one tiny example of the level of professionalism that I’m dealing with on a minute by minute basis these days (and one more reason why I will not reduce my commissions…I EARN my money).  🙂
*EXPLICIT MATERIAL.  If you have any young children reading this with you, you should have them leave the room at this time

THE SCENE
-trying to preview homes for a client
-calling all of the listings to verify status, make appt with occupant, determine any other relevant info
-always seeking to be professional and friendly (cuz you should as a human) because you never know who you’re going to need to be negotiating with in the long run

THE CONVERSATION
-introductions etc
-ME: (calling on a 3/2 little tract quasi single family home in a copperhill neighborhood…standard…nothing unique) I see your listing says I need to give 24hr notice.  Is it still occupied and do you still need 24hr notice
-THE OTHER AGENT (TOA): oh, that should be showing as pending
-ME: oh, huh.  maybe I didn’t refresh the page.  well, so it’s pending.  congratulations!
-TOA: thanx! But, here’s what I’d like to do (said with a lot of salesy-ness), I’d like to take your name/number because I have another listing in the same tract that will be on the market tomorrow and it is G-OR-GEOUS . . . (blah blah blah…goes on and on and on about the features…is VERY flamboyant about the upgrades/colors/etc. and then says..) Let me put it to you this way…I never have an orgasm when I walk into a house.  I had an orgasm when i walked into this house. okay? (his tone made me picture a stereotypical gay guy waving his hand in the air).  I’m serious this is the most A-MAZING house you’ll ever see.
-ME: (nonchalantly and rolling my eyes, silienlty sighing with complete disinterest) Huh.  Ok, my number is  _
-TOA: Great.  I’ll call you.

🙂
Not one word of that was made up or exaggerated.
Welcome to my life.
Real estate is not for the fainthearted.
🙂

DAY 2- JUROR #6… RIP

Well, it was a good run.

Before arriving at the courthouse, I stopped by the library to drop off some books and pick up some new ones that had come in (from my special order).  With 4 minutes to spare, I stood in line, chatted it up with the librarian who asked me about New Zealand (relating to the books I checked out), got the books, said hi to the hot dog stand couple (he tried to trick me that all the other jurors had been taken in), went through security and got there in the nick of time to just stand and wait.  🙂  It was 1:30pm.  Our call time.

We waited in the hallway until 1:45pm.  During the wait, Kind Kiwi (she’s smart and cool and funny) and I had a mini debrief of the jury selection process… which led to her telling me about her thoughts on my answers yesterday.   And I quote her, ‘When you answered that science question, I was thinking to myself  ‘Oh no, please don’t let this turn into an epistemological debate.’
🙂
So, that led into a mini discussion on organized religion, proof vs. faith, how do we determine who is an authority in deciphering the ‘facts’, and social deconstructionism.  Not bad for a 15 minute wait.  🙂

Around 1:50pm we were led into the courtroom and after lots of legal mumbo jumbo the next 3 jurors were mildly grilled.
The last one (for that round) was APL (see previous post for key).  I admit, I was chomping at the bit to know her story.  It quickly came out that she was a retired LAPD officer (of 25 years) and her field of expertise was the EXACT same as the crime the accused was on trial for.  We all started laughing with that ‘of course you were LAPD for 25 years in this EXACT field’ kind of way).  When asked if she could be impartial, she quickly and boldly said ‘no’.  The judge asked her 1 more question and dismissed her on the spot.
Amazing.

She was replaced and …within 10 minutes I was dismissed by the prosecution.

And that was that.

I went to the holding room where APL was being processed too.
We exchanged a few laughs and I told her that I’d been dying to know her line of work and she asked what my guesses had been.  We yucked it up for a bit and then talked to another juror who had been dismissed.  It was like a little private club.  It was fun.

ANYway, on my way out I bought a hot dog and drink JUST so i could hang out with the Lebanese guy and his NY wife.  We talked for a while and she and I are going to try to get together sometime soon.  While she and I were talking, he came over and in a scolding/endearing manner just said, ‘We’re here EVERY day M-F.  You need to come by and say hello at least once a week.’ 🙂  Oh, I will.  I will.  (it doesn’t hurt that the library is 50 ft away too).  🙂

So, goodbye, Juror #6.  It was enriching to be you for a 1.5 days.
And, may I wish all the other jurors and participants of that trial a very clear and wise conclusion, as they listen and decide the accused’s immediate future.

Prescribed civil duty for the day… priceless!

DAY 1-JUROR #6 & HER THOUGHTS

Ok, though I rarely post these days, i MUST record some debrief thoughts about my 1st day in jury selection.  🙂  If ever I was in a sitcom/Office type show… it was yesterday (with the promise of more thrills to come today!)
I’ll break this down in categories and then comedy

MY THOUGHTS GOING IN TO IT
-I’ve already had to jack my schedule and lose income, so why not totally commit and have a GREAT time
-I will be ready and willing to meet people and observe and take everything in through the lens of the gospel and a split screen of Seinfeld
-I actually want to be selected, but I will totally honest in the questions asked of me
-Government system, county courthouse:  GUARANTEED fun for me!
-Don’t Waste My Jury Duty!

THE GENERAL PROCESS
-show up for the 10:30am call time
-fill out some paperwork
-sit in a packed holding room with 50+/- other jurors (it’s awkwardly hushed like a library)
-wait for a LONG time: read all the literature that was on the chairs re: the process etc,  make small talk with a few neighbors
-Around 11:10am, the courtaid gives a mono-tone FAQ presentation that is all the same info that I just read
-A few people deem it necessary to give their whole life story when asked ‘Will anyone need to postpone?’ (my sitcom ideas started to bubble)
-The courtaid then has us watch a government video about how great it is to be a juror and a reiteration of the rules I read and that the aid gave in her presentation.  So, you get the info 3 times (at this point I was reading my book about New Zealand).  It was like when you fly a lot and you don’t pay attention to the ‘inflate your vest, put oxygen on yourself and then children’ video.
-Earthquake drill when she said ‘this is a drill’.  We all leaned over in out chairs and covered our heads.  VERY effective in a jolter, I’m sure.
-Around 11:45am, she tells us we have a lunch break until 1:15pm (?).
-Roll call at 1:20pm
-Sit in the room at wait
-Around 3pm, we all are called into the court room with ‘the accused’, judge welcomes us, tells us the type of case it will be and the duration it’s expected to be after the jury is selected (5 days, excluding deliberations)
-18 juror ID#s are called up into the ‘jury box’ and it begins…
-All 18 of us have to answer a set of the same questions, then the judge reads the law and the courts’ expectations of us, then he pulls out a HUGE book and asks us all about 42 million questions…very arduous and VERY sitcom
-When the judge is done, we take a 15 minute break and come back and the lawyers begin: defense 1st & prosectution last
-They were strapped for time since we’re supposed to break at 4:30pm
-Lawyers/Judge took a ‘sdiebar’ in the hall and came back and dismissed 3 jurors.  Those three were replaced with one of my ‘cast of characters’ lady (more to follow) and then we broke for the day, instructed to return at 1:30pm on Friday
They still need to get through about 30+ jurors today.  And, since i’m already in the box, I will stay there (as juror #6) until I’m moved or dismissed …it’s kind of like being on stage for several hours at a time

MY CAST OF CHARACTERS (highlights only)
These are the impressions made upon me as my morning unfolded…

1) the slight framed, short haired, government hating, possibly a lesbian, woman who felt entitled to point out EVERY perceived or real deficiency in the process.  she was reading a fat book called ‘the political brain’ and she had a long black ‘grim reaper/Matrix’ like coat .  During some of the group Q/A time with the aid, she asked VERY accusatory (toward government failure) and loaded questions that were nonchalantly deflected by the courtaid (who is actually pretty cool and funny…and has heard it ALL before).  What shall we call this 1st character?  APL? (angry possible libertarian?… like an angry elf, but she’s not an elf).  Her game is  intelligence coupled with angry sarcasm.  After a few interactions with her, i smiled to myself and thought ‘YES!  My first cast member…she’s perfect.’  In a sense I was choosing my own ‘jury’.  🙂

2) The court aid:  short, white haired, maybe mid 60s, slightly frumpy, cool as a cucumber, mono-toned, but kind.  Slow moving, but knows her stuff.  She did kind of remind me of a disheveled fairy god-mother on valuim.  I think we’ll go with… court aid for her title.

3) A fair skinned, light haired, quick to smile, kind woman, maybe mid to late 30s.  About 20 minutes after I got there and about 3 minutes before the FAQ presentation started, she noted the book I was reading about New Zealand and asked me ‘Are you going to New Zealand?’.  Turns out she grew up in NZ!  Immediately, I had a ton of questions which were promptly cut short by the FAQ presentation.  I did withhold barraging her with questions until the end of the day.  she was in the jury box with me in the 1st round of 18.  She will be called the ‘Kind Kiwi’.

4) He was dressed professionally, had a shiny wedding ring on, dark skinned (maybe had heritage from India or the middle east), wore glasses.  When asked if he needed to postpone, he said he was finishing up his masters and all assignments/presentations were due this next week.  Later i asked what his masters was in: education/admin, turns out he’s a principal of a charter school.  He was calmly communicative, but i would not say friendly.  We swapped stories and philosophies of education for a bit.  I assume that jury duty was a HUGE set back for him professionally and academically.  He sat next to me in the juror box too … and we had some similar answers.  I like him.  He seems grounded and even and fair.  I think I would like being a student under his direction.  I’ll call him ‘the principal’.

5) Every group has this lady too … mini skirt, slightly overweight, low cut bejeweled hoodie, ugg boots, a little tooo tan, SUPER loud.  When asked about postponement, we all had to hear a pretty extensive play by play about how she has to pick up her daughter from school etc.  Throughout the whole day she loudly/giggly answered all rhetorical questions as if just she and the courtaid were the only people in the room.  Oh, and she sat all the way in the back, I was about half way back, so I’m not joking about the loud.  She reminded me of a character from Drop Dead Gorgeous.  What shall I call her… mmmm… ‘Sissy’.  I’m confident that someone in her life calls her Sissy … maybe a grandma, a sister, a daughter … but definitely sissy.

6) other people that have given roles: the judge (pretty great sense of humor), bailiff (when i asked what the instructions were to communicate some info to the judge, he said ‘I don’t know.  I don’t even pay attention to any of this.’ 🙂 ), the attorneys (or are they lawyers?): defense attorney a man who is TOTALLY a character in my sitcom and the Prosecution is a woman and she’s stereotypical awesome.

BEST VERBAL EXCHANGE OF THE DAY
20 minutes after arriving, done with paperwork and just reading my book, sitting next to APL
APL to Courtaid: It’s really hot.  Can we turn on the A/C
CA: sure. (she turns on a floor fan instead)
APL: is there a reason why you’re not using the A/C?
CA: oh, we are, it’s just that the thermostat is controlled down in the LA office
(I do everything I can to contain myself from showing the glee I have in anticipation of APL’s response)
APL: (rolling her eyes and bitingly muttering: that’s the moronic government for you)
CA: it’s like 20 degrees cooler down in LA, so they’re not going to change it there, it would be freezing in their offices
(Me smiling to myself… at that point i KNEW it was going to be a great day!)

HIGHGLIGHTS OF THE WHOLE DAY
-went to the library for lunch…read some books…researched and ordered some more books (which will be emailed to me when they’re ready for pick up), did some emails/texts … i HEART the local library!

-Leaving the library, I noticed someone who seemed really familiar.  Couldn’t place her…she was with 2 kids, who started looking familiar …. eventually it clicked.  She’s from church and she’s babysitting kids from my church, whose parents are my clients. THAT was a funny exchange too because child one was forlorn and crestfallen that the book he wanted was taken by another kid.  Shoulders dropped, head hug low, crocodile tears … it was awesome and sad and a reminder at just how impacting life’s disappointments can be for a young one.  I withheld the temptation to offer him a solution of ordering it through their on-line system and then giving them an email address where they can notify you that it’s in.  I figured it might be lost on the moment 🙂

-On my way back into the courthouse, a drink sounded good.  i stopped at the hot dog cart just outside the courthouse doors, manned by a married couple: he’s from Lebanon, she’s from NY.  They were HILARIOUS!  and I laughed and laughed and asked a zillion questions …they invited me to sit and have lunch with them (he told me that it was bad for my digestion to eat/drink at the same time and to stand whilst eating) … I felt like I was back in the middle east or NY … we talked about how they met 35 years ago, the fact that he’s been legally dead 13 times and the outer body experiences that went with a few of them (prompted by a comment I made about death is inevitable) . . . seriously, it made getting out of bed TOTALLY worth it.  I can’t wait to go back today!  I should bring them something.  But they are ABSOLUTELY in my cast!
And, sidenote: yesterday proved, AGAIN, that I’ve NEVER met a middleeasterner or a NYer who could not tell a GREAT story!  ALSO, the scene was reminiscent of something that anyone in my family would’ve done… I very much felt kindered to my sociable heritage.

OBSERVATIONS (in all seriousness)

-it’s an odd thing, this process…
-the accused sits there while we bare all, intended to determine if our life stories will affect a fair and impartial hearing of the evidence.
-it was weird that I know nothing of the accused and he (and 60+ other people) now know a lot about my value system, my opinions, my tendencies … it’s a bizarre peel back of yourself… in real life you let all that info gradually unfold and you get used to each other at each new phase.  Not in jury duty…we all have only loaded canon balls of info about each other…like the cliff notes of a book… it was actually convicting to wonder if short yes/no or one phrase answers about myself would testify to God’s work in me or if it would be a reflection of the world and its’ values.
-people’s stories/experiences/situations… just a reminder that you never know what people have been through/are going through …I was reminded that I need to continue cultivating automatic compassion for all people all the time, cuz you JUST NEVER KNOW.

-I always thought that people didn’t want to do jury duty and would therefore ‘say anything’ to get out of it.  HOWEVER, not the case.  There’s a bizarre peer pressure to be appear unaffected by any testimony/info … meaning it was almost as if all our personal experiences/values (what shapes you) is easily cast aside for the benefit of this accused.  To be honest with you, I didn’t believe most of the jurors answers.  I think most were caving to that weird peer pressure to not seem ‘politically incorrect’  ie. ‘accept everyone all the time no matter what.’  I find it hiiighly unlikely that if I was having dinner with any of them that they would’ve given the same answers.
So, we shall see what happens.

I WANT to be a juror but I did feel compelled to tell the truth (which risked being dismissed).
2 of the biggies for me:
1) I want to know if the accused is a US citizen because that WILL affect my perspective…that didn’t seem to go over too well with the judge
2) when asked if I would have any difficulty hearing expert scientific evidence, I had to just disclose that I don’t believe every ‘scientific’ evidence that I hear.  I got grilled on that one …..grilled right up until I had to actually give an example like creation/evolution …both being theories, however, in mainstream culture one presented as reliable fact, one presented as laughable fiction.  I wonder if it will come up today.  🙂

and the biggest one is in my head …do I really subscribe to ‘ innocent until proven guilty’?
I know that, as sinners, we’re ALL guilty.
I know the US law states the opposite starting point.
So, I had some theological gymnastics going on yesterday in my brain, in addition to the onslaught of procedure and questioning.

Off to Day 2!

THE RANGE OF INTELLIGENCE WHILST SUBBING 4/14/09

I wish I had the time to blog about all the things that I want to… alas, this season of my life just isn’t allowing for it.

HOWEVER, the following 2 incidents and contrasts made me laugh and feel smart  aaand stupid…

THE SETTING: Subbing at Valencia High.  Honors pre-Calc and Italian 1

ITALIAN 1; class discussion time; discussion question: Has anything worth talking about happened in anyone’s life since I was here 2 months ago?’

GIRL: (sweet and church going): well, on Easter we went to the shelter
ME: cool.  which one?
GIRL: the one in Castaic
ME: (scrolling in my brain for which homeless shelter is in castaic?) Wait, is this a shelter for humans or animals
GIRL: (asked with great sincerity) they sell humans there too?
(whole class shocked and laughing)
ME: (tilted head and looking at her) Ok, you just won quote of the day
GIRL: (still confused, amidst whole class laughing …and now applauding her for winning ‘quote of the day’) no really? do they sell humans?
ME: what’s amazing to me is that you think that selling humans is an acceptable activity?
GIRL: (you can see the wheels turning in her brain….and then the bashful look when she realized how off she was)

HONORS PRE-CALC: me walking around and discovering this on a student’s desk

VHS pre-calc student recreation

VHS pre-calc student recreation

ME: Whoa. Is this a rubik’s cube on crack?
GUY: yeah.  it’s a 7 sided by 7
ME: that freaks me out.  have you ever solved it?
GUY: (dead serious) yeah. I’ve already solved it twice today