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Open House Day

I gaze into the bedroom where the old woman is dying.

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The light filters through the curtains and softens the color of her surroundings. She lies there, peaceful and weak, enveloped in a giant cream puff. My eyes travel the length of her figure and end abruptly with the nub of her leg. Studying her, all my problems become insignificant. You know, the petty everyday things like the broken air conditioner on my car, too much bleach in the laundry and my recent lousy luck at selling houses. Mrs. Gonzales, the old woman’s daughter, tells me that she drifts in and out of consciousness and that she really isn’t in any pain.

I am a stranger to these people. Just slapped down my signs and walked in their house. They were expecting me, of course, but I’m still an intruder just as I intrude in the lives of many people whose homes I visit. I see articles of their personal lives sprinkled around the houses when they are not around. Pictures, notes, the way they organize their furniture and their vanities, all of it a diagram to personalities. Fragments of themselves strewn about. I see, at times, more than I want to. Classify me as a voyeur, of sorts, a vendor of houses and lives.

The Gonzales family are tenants. It’s two o’clock in the afternoon and the house is a mess. Most everyone is running around wearing a bath robe. I’m sitting here waiting for my “guests”.

Mr. Gonzales sits in front of the TV mesmerized by a killer-bomb-action-adventure show. They are dodging bullets somewhere in a dark city. Bruce Willis is playing the leading man. He is a flying-across-the-screen-Mr. Macho. The T.V. is way too loud, but I’m the only one that appears to notice.

The Gonzales have two children. The older son is in the kitchen making egg salad sandwiches. Mrs. Gonzales, chases the younger son trying to get him to put on his clothes. He appears almost like a wild animal, naked and fast. He lives in the silent world of the autistic child. She smiles at me through the sad lines on her face.

“Ma’am, you wanna come and watch the movie?” asks Mr. Gonzales.

“No thanks, I’ll just sit here and wait for customers,” I say, attempting to be positive.

I examine the situation and ponder exactly why I’m here. Doing all this for Thia, I suppose. I like Thia best out of all my co-workers. I like her perky personality and the way she zips down the street speeding in her red Mercedes. I like how everything is always “cool” with her.

But considering all things, I’m still not sure at what point I decided to change professions. All I know is that somewhere in the shuffling paper world, I lost my identity and just had to leave it. Traded one rat race for another. Why did I think I could sell houses? It just looked so darn easy. After all, hanging out all day in the sunshine, touring glamorous homes and sometimes, not so glamorous ones, doing the lunch circuit, smiling a lot, what’s the big deal? Well, that was before People Lesson 101 and 102. The fact is, people don’t always tell the truth, they set appointments they don’t keep, they change their minds. They ask you to take care of their utilities and tell you that they should get such and such fixed on the house when they have no intention of doing it and not to let out the dog or the cat, not to wake up the baby. You learn things on your own, trial by fire, and for all that, the public rates you as a typical, greedy, polyester soaked sales person….

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