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Long ago, the only contact you had with the people at your destination was via pay phone after you left the office.  Pay phones seemed plentiful, but they weren’t always convenient, as a client of mine found out on the day he was supposed to buy a house.

About 20 years ago there was a February storm much like today’s blizzard.  The winds were howling, the flakes were flying, and the traffic reports on the radio made it seem like a mistake to venture out.  Unfortunately, the bank attorney, seller’s attorney, and my client (the buyer) conveyed to me that that they were all gung-ho to get to closing.  So I donned my boots, grabbed my ice scraper, and headed out the door, grateful my bulging briefcase kept me from being knocked over by the gusts.

White-knuckled, I drove and cursed, cursed and drove, not at all thrilled that I was putting my safety on the line for a few hundred bucks.  But I arrived at the closing and trudged my way into the bank to greet the sellers, their attorney, and the title closer.

Unpleasant remarks about the weather were exchanged, and then we waited for my client to bring his money and sign the documents.  Time passed, with each quarter hour or so marked by a cuckoo of a seller saying “Is he here yet?” as she popped up to look out from the window at the parking lot.

There was no hint at all about the buyer’s whereabouts, and small talk ran out.  Eventually, we were left with just the clamor of the cuckoo and the sight of the snow covering all the cars in the lot.

After “is he here yet?” chimed at quite a high pitch, marking that it was now 90 minutes past the appointed closing hour, the bank attorney declared the closing adjourned.  Though I was worried about my client’s situation, I was frankly more focused at that point on my safety. 

I eventually dug out and crawled back to the office, spinning out a few times as I alternately prayed for my safe passage and cursed out my bad luck.  I arrived three hours later (it was a trip of under 20 miles) and found a message on my answering machine.

The buyer had called a few minutes before I returned. In his message, I could hear the fear and frustration in his voice.  Seems his car had somehow gotten stuck in a snow bank while exiting the parkway.  He abandoned the car and walked as far as he could, searching for a pay phone, but in the midst of the massive snowstorm most retail establishments were closed.  Finally, more than two hours late, he found a phone.  Calling the bank at that point was futile, he found  out(because all the employees cleared out at the same time as the attorney busted the closing).

The buyer’s last words on my machine were:  “Remind me never to buy another house in the winter.”


( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
Feb. 10th, 2010 02:28 pm (UTC)
One more reason why I live in Arizona...

thanks for the reminder!
Feb. 10th, 2010 05:16 pm (UTC)
Re: snow???
Whatever we in the east can do to make you feel better is what we're all about! ;-)
Feb. 10th, 2010 05:22 pm (UTC)
Winter Wonderland
We are under a blizzard warning and just hoping our power stays on. Your story rings true. If this is global warming, I'd hate to see global cooling. Anyway, we must be of similar age because I certainly can remember there being no such thing as cell phones. People spent a good bit of time by the phone, particularly for real estate transactions. Sometimes I yearn for the 'good ol days' but for real estate, I think not.
Feb. 10th, 2010 07:19 pm (UTC)
Re: Winter Wonderland--not to me!
Yes, I am of that age where I remember playing "Pong" on the TV and marveling at the sheer techno-genius of it.

Mobile devices really are a help in conducting business wherever you are. But they have also eliminated any excuse for being out of touch, which is sometimes my very favorite place to be.

Also, I believe that's why the term "climate change" is better than "global warming" at conveying the real havoc going on with our weather.

Thanks for commenting--stay warm, dry, and electrified.
Feb. 13th, 2010 09:13 pm (UTC)
I know snow storms and such are inconvenient and all, especially in areas that don't get a lot of them and may be less equipped to deal with them... but please all I ask for is just once this year, on a day when I don't have a committee meeting, to wake up to the radio announcing that school is closed and then hear the phone ringing because the executive director is calling to say that work is cancelled. Usually happens about three times a year. Sitting here in February, and no such days as of yet, and the weather alarmingly spring-like out there, I'm beginning to feel a bit robbed!

As an aside, why is it that the ones who are normally so difficult to drag from their beds in the morning wake up bright-eyed and bushy-tailed on a snow day, with not a hint of groggy in sight?
Feb. 14th, 2010 02:41 pm (UTC)
I hope you get your wish. You shouldn't feel robbed of such a simple thing as a canceled work day.

The words "snow day" did always seem to energize my kids as well!
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )



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