Tales From The Real Estate Wars

Blogging since 2006, practicing law forever

Tossed Salad Friday
~~ The woman was griping about everything. I mean everything from the temperature outside to the temperature inside, with stops along the way for the government, red light cameras, taxes, the cost of grapefruit, and the grating way her boss talked about sports all day. Her incessant bitching was sucking the life force out of the room. Once she started to make her exit, we all held our collective breath, hoping she’d skeedadle rather than dawdle. She gathered speed, tossed back her hair, and cheerfully said, “Have a nice day, all — this was fun!”   jackass The people in the room burst into laughter, and Ms. Misery will never know why.

~~ “I don’t know why the Africans don’t just wash their fruits and vegetables better. That’s how we stop the spread of E. coli here,” the man says. When it’s pointed out to him that he’s confusing E. coli with Ebola, he shrugs and replies, “Same disease. It’s just the African word for it.” This man has an actual job with real responsibility; lord help us all.

~~ Can anyone explain to me why a nine-year-old needs to learn to fire an Uzi? I’ve reached maturity without any need to learn, so what am I missing?

~~ I was all set to give you a couple of the bona fide reasons why I couldn’t blog much today, but then I saw this tweet:

Have a wonderful holiday weekend. I intend to blog again before the Jets start the season, but after last night, it’s never too early to cheer them towards victory!

Wick It, Wick It Good
Longtime readers know that I often change genders or identifying traits of the characters in my blog posts, or write the story and let it marinate for a year (often more) to keep someone’s confidence. This story may fit a couple of the criteria.

The attorney sitting across from me had slipped out of the room four times in the first hour of the closing, only saying, “Excuse me a moment” each time. It didn’t seem to bother his client too much, and it certainly wasn’t slowing me down, so I was neither peeved nor even curious.

As the closing wore on, his fifth trip out of the room coincided with a call to nature on my part. He was semi-crouched around his phone at the far side of the waiting area, with his back turned to the bathroom. Before he knew I was there, I heard him say, “Has all the wax set yet? We need to deliver those brownie-scented candles in perfect condition by 6:00 pm today or my mother will go bat-shit.”

You may think I’m telling this story just to illustrate that every profession has its pressures, or to poke a little fun at the lawyer/family candle maker. You’d be wrong — I just wanted to write the words brownie and bat-shit in the same sentence!

Tossed Salad Friday
~~ I remember reading years ago how journalism was dead. foley-libya-2-2011-4-7 Whoever thought that was such a prophetic prediction about this deadly profession?

~~ “I can’t believe you’re 65! I would have thought you were barely 60!” bleated one woman to another. “I’m not 65,” came the icy reply. “I said I was 55.” If that was me, I might have told Ms. Gushy to get her hearing checked along with her eyesight. eyechart_alone Though Ms. 55 handled it well, I thought, flinging her handbag over her shoulder, seemingly growing two inches taller, and striding out of the room without looking back.

~~ Near as I can figure from social media, quite a few people truly believe you have to be 100% “for” cops or you’re against them. And you’re either liberal or you’re a racist. Then there’s the group who claims they are legit patriots upholding the Constitution ‘cause the Bible says so, which I guess makes the rest of us USA-hating atheists. Am I naïve to believe that we can still occasionally find a middle ground? (Yeah, OK, I’ll answer my own question.)

~~ Is it a vast conspiracy, or just me, when it comes to product caps and lids? There are the teeny ones on upscale hand creams that are hard to screw on with moisturized digits, and there are the flip-tops on sunscreens that fly open and flick sunscreen all over the mirror. Then there’s the foil lid on the coconut faux-yogurt that splatters white goop on me or across the table no matter how carefully I peel it back. OK, maybe it is just me.

~~ Does anybody really think some run-of-the-mill fragrance is worth $80.00 just because it’s called “Florale” instead of “Floral”?


~~ Next time you have jury duty, beware the questionnaire! It’s already a hassle for some people to put their lives on hold and be there, and now some potential jurors need to fill out an 80-question poll so lawyers can profile them? Mark me down as both disdainful and doubtful; though I know analytics and algorithms rule, I’d go with the gut of this savvy, logical, considerate, and smart attorney any day:

…Some lawyers seem disdainful of all the analysis.

“I look at it much less scientifically,” said Susan Kellman, a longtime New York defense lawyer. Her favorite question is a simple listening-skills one: “Tell me one person who’s dead who we all know and respect.”

Most jurors say “my grandmother,” she said, and — unless that grandmother is Golda Meir — that tells her all she needs to know, she added.

“They don’t follow directions,” she said. “You’re learning a lot from listening to people, more than tests.”


Have a good weekend!

Mistaken Identity
The caller says, “Hi, I’m Amy. My boss, Jim Doe, asked me to call you to check up on the status of the sale of the property on Abc Street.”

Nice to hear from you, Amy, and while I hope Jim is well, I’m not representing him on this or any deal.

“What?” she sounds astonished. “My boss said Call my lawyer and your name is in his card file under Lawyer!”

Listen, Amy. It’s not me you want. I’ve left the field, and gave your predecessor, Katie, three names of colleagues he might choose to represent him.

I listed the three names and heard Amy clicking and clacking a keyboard and spinning what sounded like a Rolodex. My patience wearing thin, I asked, “Are we good here? You’ll call whoever now represents Jim?”

“Oh, here it is! I found Bob Replacement’s name!” says Amy. “His name is actually listed under N, for New lawyer.”

“Great!” I responded with false enthusiasm. “Say hi to Jim, and have fun rearranging his filing system.”


Tossed Salad Friday
~~ I am a big fan of Andrew Cuomo’s liberal agenda. I am not onboard with his lack of transparency and refusal to debate an opponent. I’m paying attention to Zephyr Teachout. In case you’re interested, read about her here: http://www.teachoutwu.com/
~~ Among others who passed, the world lost two enormous talents this week. I mourn along with everyone else, and I share this quote from Betty Bacall that made me love her just a bit more: Bu4S-ovIUAEpvQk

~~ The item in the store had a tag that read: Reg. $9.99 Sale $59.99. I inquired if perhaps the reduced price was actually $5.99 — if so, ring me up. “You have to pay the price marked,” said the store employee. “I don’t have a manager around to make an exception.”

~~ I told a colleague I wasn’t practicing law at present. “Good,” he said. “Every time you were on the other side, my clients perceived they had a lesser attorney. I kept thinking I’d learn from you how to be more hands-on, but now I don’t have to.” Well, good for you. Stay lazy, my friend.

~~ The philosophical tea bag tag said: Let it come to you. Whoever wrote that hasn’t read Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In!

~~ I am burying the lede here, but what kind of country are we if the police can kill an unarmed teen, hide the name of the slayer, arm themselves in riot gear, advance on protestors, and demand that the media cease-and-desist? If I killed someone, the legal process would kick in and proceed apace. Cops are law enforcers, not lawmakers. Moreover, they are certainly not invading soldiers.BvAGzjbIEAEbupd Let the facts come out in Ferguson; they’ll never bring Mike Brown back to life, but we may see the rejection of an adversarial police department that calls black teens “animals,” arrests reporters, and tear gasses the citizenry whose taxes fund the police.

~~ Buwmr5VIgAAUJV3 Yes!

Have a good weekend!

It’s Not Just Money, Honey
She tells me she’s sorry I won’t be representing her, especially as the real estate agent is upsetting her.

What’s up with the agent? “He keeps telling me my house can sell for a max price of $595,000, yet it’s important that I get over $600,000.”

What’s the $5,000 worth to her in the scheme of things, if she can get the house sold faster? By selling sooner, she’ll save quite a bit on property taxes and mortgage interest; by selling for less, she’ll save a few bucks on the real estate commission and state transfer tax.

I say, “I know my advice is so-2011, but I think it still holds true today. If you can sell and move on, do it!”

“That’s logical,” she replies, “but I didn’t say it made financial sense. I said it was important. Not everything is just about money. Sometimes it’s a matter of expectations.”

I wish I’d had the nerve to say that with her attitude, I expected her to be living in the area a lot longer. But all I said was, “Good luck!”

Tossed Salad Friday
~~  What is it about forms that renders me such a fool? I can pop out 800 words without stress, but give me a form with 23 lines and I’m sure to put my city where the state belongs. Or worse yet, fill in words like “unknown” when I should have referred to the chart that specifies my response to question 17 must be a, b, or c (unknown was c). pen

~~ I went to yoga the other evening and a parade passed by. No, not because I was there, but because well, I have no real clue what was the actual point of the parade. There were a couple of fire trucks and some guys in kilts blowing bagpipes, but I’m getting away from what I wanted to tell you. You see, I had to move my car before the class to a spot off the route, and I didn’t know how the detour could get me home. But did I worry all through the class that I’d get lost, something I’ve done a zillion times before (worry and get lost)? No, I did not. I stayed present and didn’t project, and it was such a liberating experience!

~~ In case you wondered, I didn’t get lost, because my friend Madelyn knew where to go. No worries and no problems. I knew people lived like this, and now I’ve experienced it. Plus, of course, seemingly pointless bagpipes! bagpipe

~~ Did you see how there’s a mathematical equation that proves happiness?
happinessIt starts with low expectations, which seems to fly in the face of almost every commencement speech, career counseling session, and marriage proposal. As a stark realist with pessimism ascendant (yes, I’m that kind of Capricorn) I’m thinking that every positive attitude needs at least a soupçon of gratitude. How can you be grateful for what comes your way if you expected it all from the get-go?

~~ So this establishment is running a coupon for new customers only. As I’d apparently been there once years back (its computer system remembered me though I drew a blank) they wouldn’t honor that price. First of all, the place was obviously not that memorable or excellent, or I’d have returned. And second, their so-literal definition of new (meant to ensure that I didn’t save $5.00) actually meant that they lost a $45.00 sale. If I ran a retail establishment, I’d reward all my customers rather than try to curry favor only with new ones. Because otherwise, I’d turn away someone seeking to spend money in my place, and encourage her to go to a competitor, where she found that the price is $38 for everyone!

~~ If a monkey takes a selfie with a photographer’s camera, how can Wikipedia actually argue with a straight face that the photographer doesn’t own the copyright? (I won’t breach the copyright and share the photo, but you can google monkey selfie and see it in all its adorableness).

~~ You can debate the merits of the conflicts in the Middle East and Eastern Europe all you want, and pass remote judgment on the actions and inactions of those imperiled by disease in Africa, but for goodness sake, people are maimed, dying, and dead. Stop trying to pick fights over here and see what you can do to promote peace and support world health. images

Have a good weekend.

The conversation went like this:

He:  I’m interested in hiring you to represent me.

Me: Thanks for your interest, but I’m not practicing law.

He:  That’s OK; I don’t need you to be up on the law. It’s just a house closing — no heavy lifting.

Tossed Salad Friday
~~ It’s August 1. How the hell did that happen? First day of month

~~ If you get a new mail carrier, and you suddenly get a lot less mail, what happens if you complain? Does the new dude toss all your remaining mail in the garbage out of spite?

~~ I miss our previous mail carrier, by the way. He was great! If Mike’s now doing your route, you’re very lucky. Please say “hi” for me.

~~ The guy in the commercial praising some hair restoration product says, “I hadn’t looked in a mirror in seven months…” Seriously? Not even to check for spinach in your teeth or to see if your butt looks big in those new pants?

~~ Here’s a first world problem for you:  A woman is complaining that sometimes her brother-in-law shares his extra opera tickets. opera“You know how it is,” she moans. “It’s just such a chore to go to the opera.”

~~ As the smell permeated the room, the instructor panicked. “I know carbon monoxide is odorless, but this might be it anyway! Please let me know if anyone is going to pass out.” Turned out to be someone nearby frying eggs; the smell grew even stinkier when she opened up the windows at the suggestion of a placid student. But my mind wandered as I wondered how much notice one actually has before passing out.

~~ It’s likely I would have more things to share with you, except a confluence of deadlines all settled on my shoulders last night. It’s not that I didn’t know they were coming, and it’s certainly not that I was slacking off (in fact, according to some poll or survey on the Today Show, I may be a partial pre-crastinator). However, sometimes the days — and the week — just aren’t long enough to filter everything that needs to be done efficiently, and something has to give way.                                                         stack

~~ The new issue of Boating Times Long Island is now online. Enjoy! http://boatingtimesli.com/NY/
August cover 2014
Have a good weekend!

Slip Up? If Only
The attorney representing the seller was likely about 10 years or so older than I am. The two of us were chatting amiably, reminiscing about the days when we felt we should wear suits to every closing.

I shared how much I detested matchy-matchy suits, welcoming the (late-arriving) realization that my clients hired me for my legal prowess and not my wardrobe. I told her how pleased I was the day I first wore a sweater and slacks to a closing, now saving my suits only for the deals that require power-standoffs.

My colleague had a different take on the whole matter, telling me why she loved wearing trousers in any configuration.

“For years and years, I wore suits that had skirts. Always skirts, never pants,” she said. “I thought somebody would faint or think less of me if I wore pants.

“One day I stood up from the closing table to head to the copy machine and the elastic band in my slip gave way. That slip fell around my ankles. I really wished I could faint at that moment to escape the humiliation.”

I was commiserating with her (though I am grateful to report that I couldn’t relate). What did she do?

“I stepped out of it, stuffed it in my pocket, and never looked back,” she said with a laugh. “I am sure they were all snickering behind my back, but I just pretended it never happened.

“From then on, I exclusively wore suits with pants.”

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