It's been raining. And raining. Oh, and then on top of that rain we got some more rain. These are the times when you realize size is a relative thing. Some people think 3-5 inches is small and complain about it. But when it comes to rain it's not that small, especially when you get that much several times in a week.
I'm intrepid when it comes to my job. I'll drive through the mud. I'll walk over snakes, through spider webs. I've climbed down cliffs, up over boulders. I've walked into dark caves, meth houses, dank basements with standing water. I've driven in cars with people who turned out to be thieves, sex offenders and murder victims. (Okay, that last part I didn't know in advance and wouldn't have gone anywhere near them had I known.) I've driven in cars with people who wouldn't even speak much beyond a yes or no when asked. (The dark caves were less unsettling than those people.) I've utilized first aid advice. I've walked three miles to get to a house in the woods where my car wouldn't go. Sometimes I have to wear orange so people don't shoot me.
Country real estate is a daring adventure. Sometimes great, sometimes horrible, but almost always memorable.
Last week a client of mine drove in from way up north of here. He came in on one of the days it was raining. Not just drizzling, but the kind of rain that pummels you when you walk in it. The kind where you have to turn the wipers on high and hope nothing runs out in front of you or that the road doesn't twist in a way in which you least expect it.
He arrived smelling of wet dog. He'd been living out of his van for several days, he and Princess the golden retriever. He was raring to go and I was pleased to see that he was leaving Princess behind to rest because "the rain is freaking her out". I don't much care for dogs and I like wet dogs even less.
The first house we went to had a gate at the end of the driveway. In gentlemanly form, Mr. Granger hopped out of the car and opened the gate (with great difficulty and while standing in a puddle) and held it aside while I drove through. When he got back in the car he volleyed forth with a stream of obscenities about the horrible way the gate fastener was hooked up and how he'd just put on his last pair of dry shoes and now look at him. I sighed. I'm not keen on the potty mouth. However, I made some sympathetic noises and kept on driving.
We looked at several houses that day for many, many hours. The county in which I live is about 42 miles across at its broadest. So, that means if I'm showing property on both sides of the county I'm in the car with total strangers for a good deal of the day driving back and forth. You learn a lot about people during that time. Fortunately for me, Mr. Granger was a talker so I didn't have to do much to entertain him.
Talk turned to alcohol, although I can't for the life of me remember how we got on that subject. We live in a dry county and Mr. Granger seemed definitely dismayed when he learned that one cannot buy alcohol nearby. I told him it was only about 15 miles from my office to the liquor store. That revelation didn't seem to make him feel any better. Once he discovered the distance to alcohol he seemed to dwell on the fact that we had a serious lack of it.
At the second-to-last house we stomped around in the water all around the perimeter of this cabin and couldn't get inside. The keybox that was supposed to be there was not there and we settled on peering into the windows like naughty little children who have been forbidden to go inside. He heaved a big sigh.
"Will this rain never stop?"
I nodded. "This is not really typical weather for us. We've been getting a lot of rain lately."
"It's really starting to get to me. It's been raining ever since I left home."
As intrepid as I am, I hate showing real estate in the rain. It's not because I don't like getting wet and cold. It's not because I have to drive around with people who smell like wet dogs. It's simply because looking at houses in the rain makes people sad and sad people don't buy houses. They go home and pull the covers over their heads, don't answer the phone and watch a lot of daytime talk shows.
At the last house, we were able to get inside and we roamed through the half-empty weekend house of strangers. I was in one room and I heard him open the fridge.
"Hey, the fridge is stocked! They've got good beer, too!"
From the other room I cringe and say, "Really? How about that."
"Boy, I'd sure like a cold one right about now."
Trying to change the subject I yell back, "Hey, I found the back porch. This is really nice. You should see this."
The fridge door slams shut and Mr. Granger appears by my side. We stand at the porch railing looking out at the trees loaded with fall color. Moments later we walk back into the house. Mr. Granger is smacking his lips.
"I'm sure tempted to just leave a couple of bucks in the fridge for them and take a beer..."
I responded with a witty and effective, "Uhhh...."
"Then they'd probably be all mad because they'd think they were stocked up and then the beer would be gone."
"Yeah, that wouldn't be too good."
Eventually, to my relief, we were back in the car and weaving our way out of the hills through creek beds and over muddy dirt roads. We hit pavement and I drove as fast as the weather would allow.
About seven miles from town Mr. Granger yells, "WHAT THE HELL WAS THAT?" I slammed the brakes on and started slowing down. "I know that's not a grapefruit tree, but that's the first thing I thought of when I saw it. What WAS that??"
"I bet that was a pear tree. If it was it was the biggest goddamn pear tree I've ever seen in my life. I just can't believe it!"
"Do you want me to go back?" I am a tour guide as well as a Realtor.
"If it's not any trouble, yes. I'd love to get a picture of that."
I said, "No problem at all," then swung around in a nearby driveway. I dropped him off at the pear tree with the most ginormous pieces of fruit you've ever seen in your life. I told Mr. Granger I would turn around and pick him up in a moment when I was headed in the right direction. He ambled off toward the tree, camera in hand.
I turned the car around then pulled up again next to the tree in time to see Mr. Granger loading his coat up with pears off the ground. I looked over at the house to see if anyone was looking out the window. I sat there for a moment doing the internal "why me" whine that I do when things don't go as smoothly as I like. Then I contemplated the pros and cons of having a big logo with my name and phone number on the side of my car. I mentally added "conspicuous while committing crimes" to the con side of the list.
After a final glance to see if anyone was coming out of the house with a shotgun I see Mr. Granger stand up and start running full speed toward my vehicle, his hands full of fruit. He gets to the door and yanks on the handle only to find the door locked. (My doors lock automatically when the car is in drive.) He looks alarmed and I had to stifle a laugh. I unlocked the door and managed to squeak out an "oh, sorry" without giggling nervously.
I slam on the gas and speed off away from the scene of Mr. Granger's fruit thievery and was thanking my lucky stars that at least he only took fruit off the ground and not from the tree. I ruminated a while about how that would play out in court for me. Would that be a lesser charge? Could I just get probation and maybe some community service?
I sighed and then heard Mr. Granger moan an ecstatic, "Mmmm ohhhh!" I nearly whipped the car onto the shoulder accidentally as I looked over to see what he was doing. One ginormous pear was at his mouth. His eyes were closed and he started chewing. "Mmm ummmm, this takes me back to my childhood! Wow, what memories."
Yeah, for you and me both, Mr. Granger. For you and me both.