The streets of New York are like one big scrapbook for me. Every time I pass a building or a street where I’ve shown an apartment, I think of the person (client) I was with and sometimes, where I was in my personal life at that moment in time. Today, I turned off Central Park West, walking on West 75th, thinking about how beautiful autumn is this year in Manhattan. Still walking, having my small moment, I glanced at a townhouse to my right, and had one of those scrapbook moments. A moment, I would probably affix to the page with the title, “My Broker Blunders.”
As much as I like to think of myself as a Manhattan Power Broker, who is savvy, smart and so on, sometimes I’m the furthest thing from professionally cool. Honestly, at times, I embarrass even myself and the townhouse on W.75th is probably #1 on my list of Broker Blunders.
A few years ago, I was showing apartments to a British woman, who was being transferred to NYC via San Francisco, named Lisa. On this particular day, I was showing her a handful of apartments, all within a few blocks from one another (she wanted to live right off Central Park), and even though it was raining, we decided to walk. It wasn’t a little shower, but gushing rain and wind, making our umbrellas turn inside out, which happens quite a bit here, even to the New Yorker with the sturdy golf umbrella. (This is not the Blunder part of the tale).
Anyway, we enter the townhouse on West 75th street. The entry and stairs were quite lovely and well maintained. Things were looking good. I unlock the door to the unit, having Lisa walk-in before me. As I walked behind her into the vacant and VERY clean apartment, Lisa proclaimed, “Oh this is just charming!” It really was. Then I walked over to take-in the beautifully carved fireplace and freaked out a bit with a loud, “Oh my GOD!” (I thought I saw a mouse, but it wasn’t, really. It was a toy mouse—one for a cat, just resting on the fireplace’s mantle.) “Oh Heather, it’s just a cat toy,” Lisa casually informed me. Why would someone put that—toy on the mantle, I thought to myself, weird, just weird. (I hate mice. Bugs, snakes, whatever, they don’t bother me—just mice)
Then, all of a sudden, Lisa starts screaming from the kitchen, causing to me to flee the apartment. (Now it wasn’t exactly a run and it wasn’t exactly walk. It was more like jumping strides of an ungraceful giselle—if there is such a thing)
Outside of the apartment, now in the hallway, I yelled to Lisa, “What happened?”
She responds, “A real mouse ran across my foot!” Lisa was wearing flip-flops.
“Lisa, what are you still doing in there?”
“I want to see the rest of the apartment.”
Seriously, is she kidding me? No she wasn’t and I still could not go back into the apartment. I left her alone in there (with mice—fake and real ones!), praying that she didn’t see the way I’d unattractively dashed out. I knew I should go back in, but I couldn’t. I felt like a completely frozen fool, who was also incredibly embarrassed. Walking back to the hall-way, where I was waiting, Lisa says, “You know, I kind of like it…” I just looked at her.
To wade out the rain, we decided to pop into Café Frida (77th & Columbus) to have a margarita or two. I decided to play it cool, not mentioning that I took her to an apartment with mice and of course my reaction. Thinking: Maybe, she likes mice—she does have cats. Maybe, she didn’t notice that I was…
But then, about half way through our cocktails, I decided to apologize.
She responded, “What exactly was that—a voodoo dance or something?” laughing.
My face was veiled with red.
Chuckling she continued, “I’ve never seen someone that afraid of mice!” Great–I’m doomed and I’ve been ruined, so much for cool and savvy…
A few days later, I find I real gem of a place on West 73rd, so I call Lisa at her office. Someone else answers her line, who politely asks who I am and what I’m calling about. So, I say, “I’m Heather, Lisa’s real estate broker.” I hear a chuckle and then I’m put on hold. Lisa picks-up the line, and we discuss the new place that I found. Then I hear in the background, “Lisa, are you talking with the mouse broker?” I hear laughing—deep laughing—from many. My mind is racing: She told her co-workers? Everyone at Deutsche Bank now refers to me as the mouse broker?!
Lisa responds, “Well Heather, I guess I would like to see it,” trying her best not to laugh, “I know you know I have cats…” I hear more laughing in the background, as she continues, asking, “But does this one have mice too?”
No, as it turned out it did not, and she moved-in to a really charming pad on West 73rd. But every time, like today, when I walk the short block of West 75th between CPW and Columbus Avenue, I think of Lisa…and mice.