Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Dog Day Afternoons - Wednesday

‘Messer alert.’ Warns assistant manager T, as he squints through the window display.
I look up from my keyboard and see a casually dressed late-middle aged couple peering hesitantly through the glass.

‘On holiday?’ Questions negotiator S, joining the conversation.
‘Who’d come here on holiday?’ Counters T. He has a point, but then we don’t know where this pair come from. I’m guessing not Syria though.

‘They look like they are lost.’ I venture. ‘Probably coming in for guidance.’
‘Don’t these people have smart phones?’ Asks T, testily. No, they don’t. And the older ones who are thinking of downsizing, until they see what developers charge for shrunken-square-footage flats, don’t even have computer.

‘Well, we’re about to find out.’ Says T, as the couple move towards the door. T clambers out of this chair and for a moment I think he’s going to grab the door, something I’ve been trying to install for years, but predictably he heads for the gents’ toilet instead. Wonderful, now it’s either S or me, as idiot trainee F is nowhere to be seen and loose lettings lush B is filing her nails and looking disinterested.

S is first to make eye contact and the newly arrived man perks up, as most do at the sight of her. The couple gravitate to S’s desk as I watch and listen, as sales people should.

‘How may I help you?’ Asks S, with an open question and devastating smile. The guy is going to need a pen and paper - unless he wants to crib from my list.
‘We want one of those maps you people hand out.’ Interjects the man’s wife, curtly. Clearly not liking her husband’s glassy-eyed stare gravitating towards S’s impressive cleavage.

Definitely old school. We stopped handing those out for free about a decade ago. Most people use Google and can navigate round the strangest town without recourse to an illegally reproduced Ordnance Survey sheet, festooned with adverts for ropey removal companies and shady solicitors. S patiently explains we don’t supply the dated cartography hand-outs any longer.

‘I’m surprised.’ Responds the woman sniffily. ‘With the amount you lot charge, you’d think you could afford it.’
Terrific, another estate agent hater. You wonder why they come in. Oh, hang on. because it’s free and they shut the local library.

S patiently probes the couple, qualifying their needs to establish whether there is any potential business from their visit. A home to sell, one to buy, lettings opportunities, even an insurance product, or a liars’ loan from fat mortgage man M, who still isn’t back from his trip to grab a quick lunch….

‘So you just want directions.’ Concludes S, without betraying her anger, in the tone.
‘A map would have been nice as well.’ Says the woman. I should register as a charity.
S writes down the necessary information and even escorts the time-wasters to the door. You never know who they’ll speak to, or when they might come back to actually do some business. We kiss a lot of frogs, in this industry.

‘Tossers?’ Asks T as he returns from the toilets, as the couple leave.
Don’t even tempt me.
‘Nothing in it for us.’ Answers B, finishing her filing in a cloud of cuticle dust. She was listening then, just not engaging.

‘Do agents still bother with handing out map folders?’ Asks S, looking pointedly at me. Well I have been here longer than some of the roads on the latest editions.
‘Think that doddery old independent does.’ Answers T, nodding up the high street towards one of our long-standing competitors. It’s a wonder he is still in business, but he dabbles in commercial lettings and earns a bit for the occasional survey.

‘He still have that old dog in the office?’ Asks T, with a scornful laugh, before adding. ‘And I don’t mean that sour-faced receptionist covered in cobwebs.’ Everyone chuckles at the image. Estate agency moves on, or dies, and there’s rumour she passed away some months ago but the owner hasn’t noticed. They don’t get a lot of footfall in their tertiary position. Having his wheezing labrador, slumped and panting in the office doesn’t exactly bark cutting edge agency, either.

Wrong direction completely.


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