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Monday, January 28, 2013

On Leaving America - Part 38


Holy cow it’s almost February, short month coming up. The time is going by so fast, and I feel like I’m running in a swimming pool. Unending, these last days. Appraiser came and looked around our place, no problem as we’ve sold for less than what it’s worth. Amusingly another offer has been made. For more money than our current would-be/ might be buyer, offered. We learn we can’t jump to the higher offer . . . one of those papers we signed. I think I have signed initialed and dated over fifty papers now, the latest an agreement with the new offer. The house will be theirs if the first offer decides they don’t want the place, can’t get the loan . . . or whatever. This took another fifteen pages, over fifty signings, dating, swearing to: ‘Yes. I have read this.’ Signed and dated.
            “You don’t need to bother reading,” we are told. “It’s just the same old boiler plate. Initial here and date.” Our agent points to a blank space, and I fill it with my signature. “Initial here,” she shows a handmade + someone has penciled in the margin. I put my initials in the top right corner. Lou puts hers in the left. The might-be buyers will initial the bottom quarters.

I remember the story of a jet pilot about be lunched from an aircraft carrier’s deck. Being hooked up to a catapult that would hurl the plane off the deck at over 100 miles per hour. Kind of like a slingshot. The pilot looks into a steel framed window some distance away and makes eye contact with a lowly corporal . . . an enlisted man, nineteen or twenty who will throw the switch when the pilot signals he is ready to go. If the switch is thrown even half a second too soon some very bad things will happen to the plane and pilot. A moment of totally trusting someone you don’t know. You hope they know what they’re doing, and are not having a bad day. I remember an Arab proverb: “Never put your trust in the hands of a Stranger.” Good advice, but sometimes there’s no choice.

            Agents are interesting, and there are several kinds. 1. The average hard working lady, with her following of might-be buyers. She is simply dressed, nothing fancy, homey. 2. The well dressed lady, good clothes, big diamond ring. 3. The the sexy lady . . . twenty . . . maybe thirty something. Wearing knee high boots and well made up. Good looking , sharp. A barracuda. Almost everyone looks young to me these days.There are also men of course, but not that many,
            4. There are Asian agents who bring Asian clients who are almost sure to ask if there are other Asians in the neighborhood?
            “They’re everywhere,” I tell them. “Over there, across the street, and right next door . . . Korean.” We’ve got everything: Three whites, two blacks, Samoans and Dominican Republic. We’ve got ethnic covered. It’s a good neighborhood, with housewives who keep an eye on things. Years ago there were old ladies who sat by the window and watched the street most of the day. “Who’s dog is that?” My aunt once asked, with a pair of high powered field glasses in her lap. “I ain’t seen him around before.” 

            Grandmas are mostly in the old folk’s home these days. Watching TV and waiting to die. Our modern housewives don’t have time to sit . . . stay on the move but always watch. They keep an eye on their kids, and an eye on the street . . . and the neighbors. I trust them to pick up my mail when I’m gone on a trip. They come over to feed the cats when we’re gone, and come call to tell me I’ve forgot to close our garage door. They call police if anything looks funny, and they e-mail goings-on, things neighbors should know. As good as it gets. We might be that lucky again. All Swedish of course and not many of them, maybe a dozen houses. on a semi cul-de-sac.  I’ll be the immigrant, the new guy who can’t speak the language. What will that be like? What are their feelings about Americans?

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