Long ago and far away in a Midwestern state, I used to personally chauffeur buyers in my German-engineered automobile, with open house signs wrapped with blankets in my trunk (so they wouldn’t rattle), and nestled right next to those signs, was a crate, holding all of my “active deal” folders in it. My car, like most real estate agents in the United States, was my office.
You really do get to know your buyers when you’re driving them around to view properties. It’s nice. But, often, I wouldn’t get to know my customers via my Office-on-Wheels. After our first tour, with me driving them around, they’d always say “You know, Heather, we’ll just follow you in our car, tomorrow,” adding some very polite reason for why they wouldn’t like me to drive them, and sometimes, they’d offer to pick me up in their cars for our daily real estate outings. They’d never tell me that, “You are a terrible driver,” and they didn’t need to. I knew I was. And I also knew: they feared for their lives with me in the driver seat—no matter how nice (and clean) my car was or how much they liked me as their real estate advocate.
There’s probably some really good reason as to why I’m a terrible driver. Maybe it’s because I learned to drive in my mom’s old Dodge Horizon, during the winter, often with a horse-driven Amish-buggy behind and in front of me, as I drive-dodged “road apples” that I spotted on the pavement’s horizon, every once in a while…I just don’t know, and don’t need to know the why-of-it-all. Because, I don’t need to drive in order to sell and rent real estate here in Manhattan. And I LOVE this about my job and Manhattan. It’s perfect, actually. There’s something completely freeing, to me, about not owning a car—the constant maintenance, always stopping to refill the tank (I hated that the most–just don’t have the attention span for it, I guess); and I, 100%, don’t miss driving a car, anymore.
Nowadays, if I need to escort a buyer or renter, I’ll hail a taxi or two, or hire a driver, for the day, making the “getting-to-know-you” process so much nicer, for everyone involved. When I’m alone, I take the subway. These vehicles of transportation are perfect for someone, like me, who’s an awful driver. The roads are definitely safer without me behind the wheel, that’s for sure. (My kids are thankful, too, often reminding me of my mishaps of driving into a parked car, wrecking into a pile of mulch, and so on.)
However, as much as I love my new modes of transport, this lack of driving a car has held me back in a few ways. One is that I desperately want to rent a car and drive my kids to Maine–to eat lobster, rest by the ocean, etc; but the kids won’t agree, offering another solution: “Can’t we just take a train there or fly?” “No,” I respond, while adding, “We must drive in a car—to experience it, fully! It’d be wonderful car-trip!!!” We’ve yet to make it to Maine, so I’ll have to $ave up, in order to hire someone to drive us there for a long weekend escape. Another example happened just a few years ago when a client’s business manager offered me a very posh, high-paying job in Los Angeles. It was a great opportunity for me (and my kids); but a few minutes, after his offer, and a few lingering seconds of multiple $tars twinkling behind my eyes, I responded, “I can’t. LA isn’t for me… Plus, I haven’t driven a car in three years.” Everyone knows that you definitely need a car in LA.: Cars are a must (in many ways), so I’d be out of my comfort zone, to say the least. And I’d miss the NYC subway, even with all of the crazy MetroCard-riders, who I see every day, way too much.
I don’t know if I could make it anywhere without TRAINing it.
I don’t really talk to people on the subway: I just read or sort out my appointments for the day, and keep to myself. (It’s become one of many, many kinds of Office-on-Wheels, for me.) But sometimes, when my mind wanders, I do wonder about those strangers, who sit or stand next to me. What’s their story? Where are they from? Are they terrible drivers, too? I know I’m not alone with these rambling, silent questions; and I also know, I’ll never ask them. Which is why I’m so happy that Alli & Jen introduced me to their video-blog, whyareyouonmytrain.com.
If you live in NYC or just want to travel the subway from your PC, via the experiences of others, check-out their site (which just so happened to be featured in The Huffington Post)!
And if you walk, drive, train or bus it in NYC, check out: http://newyork.hopstop.com/