I'm a big Billy Joel fan. Huge actually. By that I mean that I know the lyrics to almost every song that he's written and, in the days of tapes, had every one (except Cold Spring Harbour) that he released. So, yeah, I love Billy Joel's stuff.
Well, today I've started thinking of the song "The Stranger." The album, which is also called The Stranger, shows a picture of Billy, lying on a bed gazing at a porcelin mask on the pillow next to him. The premise of the song is, well, perhaps I should just quote the master: "We all have a face that we hide away forever, then we take them out and show ourselves when everyone has gone; some are satin, some are steel, some are silk, and some are leather; they're the faces of the stranger, but we love to try them on." Yeah, Billy rules. Anyway, while the song laments about the hidden faces of a lover, that isn't the reason I'm thinking about it.
As I mentioned earlier, I've recently relocated. For a property owner, part of relocating is, well, selling your property or thinking of something else to do with it. I sold my house. And I made the biggest mistake in the process: I didn't meet my buyer, leaving it, instead, to my realtor to handle everything with her.
For most people, this may not be a big problem. I, however, have a pretty good ability to read people. Usually, when I meet someone, I can get a sense of one pretty important thing: whether they are putting up a front. However, because it is apparently industry practice, I trusted realtor's impressions of the buyer. Big. Mistake.
That's not to say my realtor isn't a nice person. She's fabulous. My biggest regret is that in my new city I can't have her look for a house for me here. But when conducting a large financial transaction, I think it's important to know whether the person you are dealing with is a normal, reasonable, cordial human being or an insane and deluded maniac trying to make it appear that they are a normal, reasonable, cordial human being. Here, my realtor thought the buyer was the former. The buyer was the latter. Needless to say, thanks to my buyer, this entire transaction has been a completly and totally miserable experience since I signed the contract.
Let me make this clear: I do not blame my realtor in any way for her assessment of my buyer. It's not her fault. Some people are good at seeing people who put up fronts and others aren't. Everyone's different and each of us have different strengths. That's what makes us individuals. And wouldn't life be boring if that weren't the case?
No, I don't blame my realtor. I blame myself. I absolutely should have met the prospective buyer before I signed the contract and, if I had (which I did later), I absolutely would have decided not to sell to this person. When I later had a conversation about the property with the buyer (who came to the property during her inspection), I couldn't stand her. I knew, almost immediately and for a number of reasons, that this was not the person to whom I wanted to sell this house I loved.
You have to understand, this house was my baby. It was the first home that I ever bought. The location was great, the neighborhood was plesant, and it was just a fun little house. Certainly, every house has its share of frustrations from time to time. Sometimes you have to replace an appliance, etc. But all in all, I loved this little house. So, I wanted to sell it to someone that I genuinely liked. That's not what happened.
I'm not going to bore you with all the tedious bullshit that accompanied the sales process, but needless to say, it sucked. Big. And so much of the reason it sucked was my incredibly horrible buyer. So you may think that the reason that I referenced the Stranger is the buyer: that this buyer because a face from under a mask that was unexpected. But my buyer isn't what made me think of "The Stranger." I am.
Now, let me be clear, it is not because of anything that happened in the sales transaction that I make this reference. Rather, it's because, after dealing with problem after problem with this buyer, I did something I rarely do. I lost my temper. And I lost it on my realtor.
While the details of how that happened are somewhat through, they aren't really for public consumption (as if the public actually reads this...), so I will only say this: I finally felt like I was getting screwed beyond the point that I could tolerate and laid into my realtor. Now, I don't do it often, but when I lose my temper, I mean really lose my temper, its ugly. Like really ugly. I become a verbal pit bull that will orally attack anything or anyone that comes within twenty yards of me. All forms of reason are pushed aside and I just become an vicously aggressive ass. So I pretty much had a Napoleanic tirade on the phone with her. And after I was done, this incredibly sweet woman could only mutter a soft, "Okay."
Yeah. I was a prick.
Ultimately, I called back (after cooling down) and apologized. And all was resolved. I'm still getting screwed, but I told her I know it isn't her fault.
So that little pit bull is my stranger, my mask of steel and leather that sits in the back of my closet, behind my sweaters and ties, that most people will never see. And no matter how rarely it happens, I hate showing that mask to someone who doesn't deserve to see it.