“You’re the perfect size for a jockey.”
So said my High School Guidance Counselor when we met to have that all important discussion of what I wanted to be when I grew up. I thought this an odd statement to make to a female high school student but, then again, it was the 70’s and he did kind of look and smell like he’d been smoking…something. I admit that I briefly considered this suggestion; I do like horses. However, since my only real experience was riding a Shetland pony in my cousin’s backyard, I came to the very grown-up conclusion that this was probably not a good idea.
I’ve held many forms of employment since my high school days…waitress, proofreader, receptionist, childcare provider, real estate agent, census taker, and teacher. My favorite job, the one I feel was most important, and the one I am most proud of, was my job in the ‘second oldest profession in the world’…motherhood. Together my husband and I have raised three wonderful human beings who are now raising their own children and doing a great job. It’s amazing to see and be a part of this phenomenal ‘circle of life’. Being a part of an ‘interracial’ family makes it that much more fun! The wonder of what each child will look like, whose features they will have…fun for us; though I’ve learned not everyone may think so.
I began selling real estate in 2001, after we moved to Florida. I passed the exam and got a job with a company. I’m sure this may not be true of all Florida agents; but in one particular office that I worked at nobody really wanted to work with the people from the “North,” mainly those from New York or New Jersey. In fact, they seemed to be somewhat frightened of them. Being from New Jersey and having lots of New York relatives, I enjoyed the opportunity of working with some of, what I considered to be, “my people”. One day I got a call from a Chinese gentleman with a strong, broken English-New York accent.
“I’m coming to Florida to buy a house. You pick me up at the airport and we’ll go looking. Your name is ‘Chin’. You are Chinese.” It was not a question.
“No, sir. My husband is Chinese.”
A moment of silence…and then…resignation.
“Okay…You pick me up at the airport on Sunday.”
And so it began.
Cliff and I picked him up and brought him to his hotel. I told him I’d be there in the morning and take him to look at houses, which I did. As we were driving, he shared his story as most clients do. His parents were born in China. He was born and raised in New York, but Chinese was his first language. His parents ‘arranged’ for him to marry a woman from China, who he met a week before their wedding and was not overly fond of. Though his marriage was not a happy one; they had a child that they loved dearly. He was moving his family to Florida, his wife was not wanting to move, and he didn’t care. He and the child were moving; she could come if she wanted to.
We looked at a few houses and went to lunch. I wisely chose a Chinese restaurant, eager to show him my proficiency at eating with chopsticks. He was not impressed.
He had questions…
“Why did your husband marry you?”
“I’m pretty sure he loves me. Why? What’s wrong with me?”
“You’re not Chinese. You’re Italian and Irish, and you have red hair.”
Guilty as charged, I found this kind of amusing.
“He should have sent to China for a wife.”
“Why? You don’t even like your marriage. We’ve been happily married for 25 years. I think we’re doing okay.”
He did not reply with words, but shook his head in agreement.
“What about your kids?”
“They’re fine, thanks. Yours?”
I should explain that neither of us were upset with this conversation, nor was it awkward at all. We just took it in stride and moved on to more houses.
I picked him up and we continued our quest to find him the perfect house. When lunch time came, I stopped at a pizza place. He finished quickly and told me he was going out to have a cigarette. I watched him because I had an ‘inkling’. He smoked one, looked in at me, lit another, and waited out there.
Suspicions confirmed, I finished my lunch, paid for ‘my’ meal, and sat back down at our table. After some time, he came in and told me he was ready. I told him he needed to pay for his lunch.
“Aren’t you going to pay for my lunch?”
“Well, that depends, are you going to pay for my gas?”
“Okay, then. I’ll be waiting in the car.”
Again, the head-shaking nod of agreement and off we went.
No anger, no awkwardness, I guess it’s just the way things are done in the North sometimes. I thoroughly enjoyed this client. We had an unspoken understanding that made it all work. We both knew exactly where we stood with each other and that was a good thing. We looked at a total of 15 houses in 2 days. He bought the very first one we looked at. As far as I know, he’s still living there. And now, one of our daughters and her family live close by. I’d knock on his door and tell him, but it’s probably not that big a deal.