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The Agent of Fate

22 Mar

March 22, 2018

My real estate agent called me the other day. “Hey! I got an apartment that’s perfect for you. It’s right in your price range!” The last apartment he said was right in my price range was $500 per month above my price range so I was not excited by this call.

I’ve seen a lot of apartments lately. They ranged from awful (the mailboxes were all broken into and some were hanging open while others were shut with padlocks) to amazing (enclosed terrace, recessed lighting) yet somehow they were all “perfect” and “right in my price range.”

But I agreed to see this one. Hey, one really does have to be prefect and right in my price range, right?

This is a stock photo. The real thing was worse.

Agent: “Can you come tomorrow? Meet me at the office at noon.”
Me: “Ok, tomorrow noon.”
Agent: “You’ll be there, right? At noon?”
Me: “I’ll be there. At your office at noon.”
Agent: “Call me if you can’t make it.”
Me: “Don’t worry, I’ll be there.”
Agent: “Noon.” [Hangs up]

This all stems from the fact that a couple of weeks ago I made an appointment with him to see a place, then something came up and I called to reschedule. He said he was unable to reschedule, so I moved some stuff around and went to the appointment at the original, agreed upon time. I made exactly two phone calls to the realtor about two hours apart, two days before the time we were scheduled to see the place. Not exactly a big deal, yet now every time he wants to show me a place he treats me like I’m completely unreliable.

So the next day came. I live a short ten minute walk from the real estate office but I left early so as not to give any illusion that I may be no-showing and got there ten minutes early. The office was closed and locked. More upsetting, there was a drunk sitting in the entrance to the pharmacy next door. This used to be a really nice, upper-middle class area. Not so much anymore.

I called the agent. “Hey, I’m here, at your office. There’s no one here. Are you coming?”
Agent: “I’m five minutes away. You’re at the office?”
Me: [Exasperated] “Yes, I am standing right in front of your office watching a drunk trying to figure out why his bottle is empty in the doorway next door.”
Agent: “Maybe he drank it all. See you in five minutes. At the office.” [Hangs up]

He really did arrive in five minutes, almost to the second. The drunk still had not figured out where his liquor went and was checking his pockets to see if they were wet.

The agent pulled up, a little too fast, came to a short stop in front of a fire hydrant and got out of the car. “I have to make a call. Watch my car!” He ran into the office. I stood next to his car, asking myself if a policeman tried to give it a ticket, what did he expect me to do? But it didn’t matter since he was out in a minute and we both got inside.

Agent: “I can show you the house, but I can’t take you back to the office.”

This was perfectly fine with me. The apartment we were seeing was closer to my house than the office so I had already planned to walk home from the viewing.

Agent: “I just spoke to my wife. She is very sick. I have to take her to the doctor.”
Me: “Oh.”

The agent was very apologetic. We had to make it fast, but he got me all the way out here (he said) and he wanted me to see the place. Then a call came in and he put it on speaker. It was the homeowner.

Homeowner: “So sorry to do this but I have to cancel. I’m stuck in Jersey and I can’t get out there today.”  That’s exactly what the agent thought I was going to do. But OK, we understand. “Come tomorrow. I’ll show it to you tomorrow.”

Then another call came in, this time the agent didn’t put it on speaker. And when he was done:

Agent: “My wife is even sicker. I have to take her to the emergency room.”
Me: “Ok, let me out here, I’ll walk home.” We had only gone a single block.
Agent: “No, I’ll take you home.”

I was very worried that this would turn out like the Seinfeld episode where George ends up with Mr. Peterson’s mother on her death bed so I said no, no, I’ll get out right here, thank you very much.

Agent: “I got you all the way out here so I’ll take you home.” He was strangely insistent about taking me home while his wife was very sick and he had to rush her to the emergency room. But as luck would have it, things finally went my way. The street we were driving down was completely closed ahead for construction and the detour took us away from my house. There was a red light at the corner and when the car stopped I opened the door, said thanks for the ride, and got out. Quickly.

Agent: [Through the window] “You are a good guy! Maybe we’ll see the house tomorrow!”

The next day he didn’t call. I wonder if his wife is OK.

 

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Willie The Ice Cream Man

19 Mar

March 19, 2018

I was going through my last few remaining comics. I once had 32 short boxes full of comics. Each box holds around 200 issues, more or less, so that’s 6,400 comics. But I had many loose ones in stacks on shelves, probably at least three more boxes full, so that’s around 7,000 comics. Over the last few years I sold or gave away nearly all of them. I have just about 65 comics left. Yes, I downsized 6,935 comics.  So those 65 comics amount to around .0085% of what I used to have. But each one has a meaning or a sentimental value. I kept them not because they are valuable (a couple are, most are not) but because they all have a story, not between the covers, but behind them.

To drive home the point, where I once had hundreds and hundreds of Batman comics I now own exactly 5.

These are my two favorites.

Detective Comics 406 and 409, published in 1970 and 1971. In the condition in which I own them they are worth around $15 – $20 each.

But they only cost me 25 cents each, and that’s the background of this story.

It was around 1980, maybe as early as 1978, maybe as late as 1983, but I date it to 1980 because I distinctly remember riding my bike up and down the street pretending it could fly like the motorcycles on Galactica 1980

It was summer, of course. There was no better time to be a kid than in the summer. We had an ice cream man who came every summer day in the afternoon, and when school started he came around a little later after we were home. His name was Willie and we all knew him because we were kids and what kid doesn’t love ice cream? He peddled around the neighborhood on an old fashioned ice cream cart, basically a bicycle with a freezer in the front.

He’d jingle the bells on the handlebars and we’d hear him coming down the block. Since I and my brother lived in an apartment building (we were city boys) we didn’t have time to run all the way upstairs to get money. We’d just yell for our mother to come to the window. “MOM! MOOOOOM!” Half the mothers in the building would look out the window to see if it was their kid yelling. But our mother would come to the window and we’d yell “the ice cream man is coming!” and she’d put some money in a can or a box and she’d toss it out the fifth floor window to us. We never caught it though. We’d always have to crash through the bushes in the front of our building to retrieve it. 

So now we’d yell “Willie! Ice cream! Over here!” and he’d peddle over to us, jingling all the way, to borrow a phrase. But this is the best part. Not only would we get ice cream, we’d get comic books too. Willie had a box somehow lashed to the back of his bike with old comic books. They were old even then, and he sold them for a quarter apiece. 

Was there ever a better summer day? Playing outside, riding bikes, eating ice cream, reading comic books. This is what a kid’s life should be.

So when it came time for me to pare down my comic collection the two Batman issues had to stay. Sure the covers are great, and yes, I like the stories, but I had gotten rid of issues with better covers and better stories. But none of them had a story that I was part of, that reminded me of the days of my youth. There are very few comics that I distinctly remember buying and reading when I was a kid, and not many that put a smile on my face, so these two issues are keepers.

(The Incredible Hulk 216, which I bought new from the corner candy store is another, and yes, I still have that one too.)

 

 

And by the way, here are the flying motorcycles I used to pretend I was riding. 

 

Before I go, one quick ice cream man story. One day Willie was not there, and someone else was driving the cart. He was coming down the block, ringing his bell. We started calling out “ice cream man! Ice cream man!” and waving to him.

He looked at us and, with a big smile, waved back. And kept on going.

We didn’t get ice cream that day. 

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