Thursday, January 10, 2019
Start Again - Thursday
‘Oh for f**ks sake.' I exclaim angrily, hurling the phone handset down.
‘Problem?’ Asks idiot trainee F gormlessly.
No, I always shout expletives in the open office and incur another office swear-box fine, you numpty.
I dislike January more than most months. The extra weight I’m carrying after the Christmas excesses, the dull, damp weather, the pressure to partake in Dry January and foreswear all alcohol, when all I want to do is drink - and swear.
‘The Patels buyer has pulled out.’ I finally tell F, head slowly shaking like a nodding toy dog, losing kinetic energy.
‘Why? They seemed so keen before Christmas.’ Asks F.
‘Worried about Brexit, think they may have overpaid, their buyer is stalling and being awkward on proposed completion dates, not sure if they can raise the deposit any longer……’ I tail off.
‘Which one?’ Probes F.
‘All of them.’
Property purchase has always been fraught with problems, if it’s not the legal mechanics with delays and incompetence, it’s the human component multiplied by however many people are in the transaction chain. That familiar old statistic - I’ve quoted before - that one in three sales founders, still holds true after three decades in the industry, two property crashes, and more booms than a Queen's birthday salute. It’s why the pay up-front, internet “agents”, are starting to unravel without ever really grasping the business.
‘I don’t know how you keep doing it year after year, with the constant setbacks and the targets just going up and up.’ States F, with unaccustomed insight. ‘ You must be so sick.’
‘Stoic?’ You mean, I ask frowning.
‘No, sick.’ Repeats F beginning to look unsure.
Is he insulting me or praising?
‘The good sick?’ I ask. ‘The way the youngsters use it, or the just not very well and in need of treatment variety?’ F looks worried.
‘It’s alright you can say.’ I urge, just wanting to know.
‘Bit of both.’ F finally says haltingly. ‘ Cup of tea?’
‘It’s really quiet isn’t it.’ States F, once he’s made the cuppa.
‘Nature abhors a vacuum.’ I tell him staring at the grease globules floating on the surface of my beverage.
‘What does that mean?’Asks F cautiously. I still wonder what he did in private school for seven years, this level of stupidity usually leads to a career in politics, not property.
‘I mean, everybody is waiting to see what happens with Europe, trade deals, the economy, interest rates, the whole nine yards.’
’It’s a sporting expression.’
‘They don’t really play it that much,’ opines F before adding brightly ‘Although they have had Beckham and Rooney.’
See what I’m up against?
The door opens and in shuffles one of our elderly regulars. Time-wasters are the bane of an estate agent’s life. Advisors and so-called property experts will tell you every enquiry is a potential fee-earner and on paper, they are. But with only so many hours in the day, days in the week, months in the year, years in a decade, you have to make decisions to drop people who will only leave their home, feet-first, on an undertaker’s gurney.
‘We’ll get plenty of valuations this time of year.’ I tell F. ‘ People wanting to split-up after spending too much time with each other over the holidays, but half of them will stay together when they realise what they’ll have to live in, once they paid expenses and moved to something half the size.’
F looks at me soppily. What’s the fool going to say now, I wonder?
‘You know so much.’ He says smiling. ‘I don’t think I’ll ever build-up that sort of knowledge.’
You won’t. Even if you had an IQ upgrade. Your generation don’t stay in a career, or company, for long enough. I wouldn’t say they are even wrong, it’s a different employment marketplace out there now. You can stay too long. I’m a living example.
‘I sometimes think of you as a bit of a father-figure.’ Muses F, unsettlingly.
I was going for a more gifted, elder bother. But I’m used to disappointment.