‘Ok you got me.’ He admits with a resigned grin, once I’ve quizzed him on his reluctance for a jolly out of the office, one he usually strings out to include some window-shopping and a Starbucks. What? He thought I didn’t know?
‘The guy's a complete arse,’ continues T. ‘Arrogant city type, cash but no class. Thought you’d deal with him better.’
It’s a backhanded compliment at best, but I like a challenge and a cappuccino, so I pick up the baton.
‘Why’s he worse than normal?’ I quiz as I grab my clipboard and a set of details, after lunch.
‘You know the type,’ reports T. ‘Earning more money than is good for them. Bullying manner, thinks they can buy anything they want.’
‘Slutty girlfriend in-tow?’ Asks mortgage man M salaciously.
‘Almost certainly.’ Responds T to disapproving tutting noises from buxom negotiator S.
‘There’s no justice.’ Gripes M. waddling away, unpleasant friction noises emanating from between his lardy legs.
‘This looks overpriced.’ Announces the expensively clothed city boy when he unbends from a bulky Porsche of some description. It’s an ugly car and I’m in an ugly mood. You can’t often pick and chose buyers, but given the opportunity and more than one punter, you can influence an owner. Steer them in the right direction. The old boy in the rundown home I’m about to show listened to my advice on price and didn’t quibble on the fee. I’ve a duty of care to him I intend to uphold. Plus I already hate this pompous prat.
‘It looks like it needs a shed load of work.’ Gripes the overpaid man odiously, sneering towards the peeling windows and scruffy front garden.
‘It’s reflected in the price.’ I bat back neutrally, trying to mask my antipathy.
‘Yeh you would say that wouldn’t you.’ He sneers, as not for the first time I ponder punching someone in a spectacular resignation that would make me a local legend – at least for a day. Of course I don’t. That only happens in movies, where mortgages and Job Centre interviews don’t impact on a good story.
‘I’m so sorry about that man.’ I tell the wrinkly owner, when I go back inside, once the German monstrosity - with the obnoxious Englishman inside - has screeched off down the street in a cloud of burn rubber.
‘Don’t worry about it son.’ Responds the old boy generously. I warm to him all over again. He’s the sort of guy you’d like for a grandfather, plus he’s ancient enough to call me “son”. I just hope he’s not a paedophile.
With no time restraints I join the lonely man for a cup of greasy tea as we discuss how rude the last viewer had been. Openly and audibly criticising the décor and condition, as if the owner hadn’t been sat there in his worn and saggy seat.
‘That’s the way of the world now.’ Opines the elderly gent ruefully. In another culture he’s be sat on a mountaintop, sought out by youthful apprentices for his wisdom and knowledge. Here people piss in his garden and deposit empty Carling cans in the shrubbery.
‘If he makes an offer any less than the asking price, we should reject it.’ I advise confidently.
‘Don’t worry, we will.’ Agrees the man with a gummy grin. ‘I’ve met his type before.’ He seems to be enjoying himself; despite the fact all his relatives are either dead - or waiting for him to be.
‘Don’t know how you put up with the likes of him.’ Chuckles the old man as I say my goodbyes and promise to bring a better buyer next time - fingers crossed behind my back.
I’m not wise beyond my years yet, but I know more than the bank-balance-blinded prick in the Porsche does. He’s clearly never failed – yet. It’ll happen of course. Self-awareness only truly comes with setback and sorrow. Then again, regrets harbour like herpes, never truly go away, and are apt to flair up unexpectedly.
The ointment helps.