I have mentioned that showing a house is stressful. Actually, the whole ordeal of SELLING a house is stressful. I saw a list one time that listed selling a house up there amongst ‘death of a loved one’ and ‘divorce’ as some of the most stressful things you can go through in life. I believe it! I have been extremely stressed since our house has been on the market.
When you are showing a house, it means that you can never relax. It’s like living in someone else’s home, where you can never let your guard down and must be on your most clean and good behavior. You have to wash every dish and put it away immediately after you use it. You have to wipe the counter down any time it gets water on it. The trash cans always need to be empty. You can’t leave your dirty clothes on the floor or anywhere in view. You have to leave ‘the good towels’ out 24/7. The shower needs to be wiped down and the soap, shampoo and razors need to be put away after every use…because you never know when you might get a call for a showing. You begin to learn to expect it when you least expect it. Are you getting the idea?
You never know WHEN that next showing might be. Sometimes, they let you know a day in advance, but often -VERY OFTEN- we have had ‘impromptu’ showings, where they call or text 45 minutes or less before they want to come see it. You always have the option to turn it down, but you really CAN’T…because what if that might be ‘the one’-the buyer who will fall in love with your house and want to buy it on the spot?
We were so glad to have signed another contract. A contract means –no more showings.
On the evening of the day we signed the contract, we had eaten supper, and I had just finished washing the dishes. Thinking that we were done with ‘showings,’ I had not dried them or cleaned out the sink. I smirked as I looked down at the bits of food in the drainer at the bottom of the sink. With a satisfaction I couldn’t hide, I decided to leave the bits of food there to dry on- nice and hard. I looked at the sink all covered in water droplets, threw the towel onto the counter, and I laughed. TAKE THAT, FLYLADY! I thought to myself. A maniacal laugh bubbled from my belly and escaped my lips, as I thought of how ‘un-shiny’ my sink looked at the moment.
I hadn’t picked up the chicken poop on the back porch, hadn’t vacuumed, hadn’t ‘blah-blah-blah’ (everything I usually do to keep the place looking nice and ‘show-ready.’) I was going about my business around the house and I heard the doorbell ring. I went to the door, and there was this cute little girl with long straight hair and big eyes smiling up at me. I smiled really big, and told her ‘Hi,’ through the glass storm door, and then looked beyond her on the sidewalk. I saw two women pointing up at the eaves of the house and talking about rotten wood! They seemed to be oblivious to the fact that the little girl had rung the doorbell and that I was standing there at the door.
Please don’t judge me. I’ll let you in on a little secret: I don’t handle stress well. I don’t handle ‘unexpected happenings’ very well, either. I handle stress differently than the rest of the population. When things happen that I have not prepared myself for, it throws me into a panic. It’s an automatic reaction. My heart starts beating fast, the adrenaline starts coursing through my veins, my emotions take over and my brain stops functioning properly.
I immediately went into ‘shock’ mode and shut the door in the face of the little girl peering up at me. Bud came down the hall and around the corner. By the look on his face, I could tell he knew something was very wrong. I guess my face couldn’t hide it.
“THERE ARE PEOPLE LOOKING AT OUR HOUSE! THEY DON’T HAVE AN APPOINTMENT! WE’RE –NOT- SUPPOSED-TO LET-THEM IN-UNLESS THEY HAVE AN APPOINTMENT!! THEY’RE NOT SUPPOSED TO BE HERE!! WE CAN’T LET THEM IN!”
The first thing that popped into my head was that the house was not ready to ‘show.’ I could feel the remnant of that maniacal laugh rotting in my belly. I began to walk around aimlessly wondering what to do first. As I was standing in the kitchen, in shock, I saw movement out of the kitchen window heading toward the backyard. Oh no. Surely they wouldn’t!
I hurried out the sliding glass doors, rushed out to the backyard, and rounded the corner. Standing there with the gate open, were two women pointing to the eaves, talking about rotten wood. (That damage was done by the last buyers’ inspector, by the way. It seems he felt the need to hack away at every potentially rotten spot, leaving places in the wood that look much worse than they were before so he could show his clients how HORRIBLE it was. Um…YEAH, NOW it does. Grrrr….)
The chickens, of course, had come around to see if these women had treats. Several days previous, I came home after a showing, and the gate had been left open! The chickens normally roam free in the backyard during the day, but I put them in their run when we have a showing. I’m always afraid that they will run up to someone coming out the sliding glass door, thinking this human has a treat for them, and that whoever it is might freak out and kick them away, thinking that the chickens are getting ready to attack them.
The chickens are escape artists, and have often gotten out of the run. There have been times I have come home after a showing, and one or two of them are roaming free in the backyard. If Henrietta gets upset, she will actually fly over the top of the hen house!
I was VERY UPSET after one showing recently when I came home and found that someone had opened the gate leading to the backyard. It had not latched, and was left OPEN. Thankfully, none of the chickens got out of the run that time. We took measures to prevent it from happening again and tied the gate with a rope around a board of the fence and a board of the gate.
These two women had gone so far as to remove the rope we had used to keep people from entering from the outside. I was already upset… but that they had untied the rope, (an obvious sign that means, “You’re not supposed to come through here,”) and had come into the backyard upset me even more!
I have lesions on my brain and it has affected my speech…especially when I’m stressed or upset. I started stuttering and spewing, The synapses in my brain started whirring and struggling to make connections and form speech. Finally, I blurted out, “*Sputter* BBbbbb *Sputter* Yyyyy—-YOU’RE NOT SUPPOSED TO BE BACK HERE! YOU’RE NOT SUPPOSED TO SEE THIS PLACE WITHOUT AN APPOINTMENT! YOU ARE TRESPASSING!” I pointed to Eula staring up at us, wondering why no one was giving her a treat. “THESE CHICKENS CAN’T BE ALLOWED TO GET OUT!!!”
I’m sure I was over-reacting, and I’m sure I was shaking all over. I wasn’t prepared. There is a lot of truth to the phrase, “Information is shock resistance,”…especially for me. It was the unexpectedness of it all that caused me to react that way.
The woman (and her mother, as it turned out) looked visibly shocked. They defensively backed out through the gate with a look of shock and horror on their faces saying they were meeting their Realtor there and were waiting for him, and they thought the house was unoccupied. (Uh, uh. Bad excuse. That doesn’t make sense. You’re telling me we’re not living here, but we just leave chickens here in the run to fend for themselves? Surely they saw the chickens during their initial visit to the house. I also had candles burning for that showing. There were two cars in the driveway that they had to pass to get to the gate!) They told me that was the first time they had come in through the gate (okay….MAYBE…could be true…could be someone else who left it open. We often have 2 or 3 showings in a row. Still…they shouldn’t have been coming in that gate!)
I watched as the woman backed out, her mother behind her, and she shut the gate. When the gate was shut, I saw her hand come over the top of the fence (shaking all the while) and loop the rope back over the board. I must have put the fear into her. I stood there with phone in hand, shaking all over. Neurons were firing so hard in my brain that I was sure there were sparks coming out of my hair.
As my breath heaved in and out, my fingers shaking, I started furiously texting my Realtor letting her know what was happening. Meanwhile, ever the mediator and peacemaker, Bud went out the front door to placate the people, and smooth out the situation, not wanting them to feel awkward. This is something I really admire about him, and something he is really good at. He almost never loses his cool. Even though he might be boiling inside, no one would ever know. With me, it’s all over me. It oozes. I can’t hide it.
My Realtor confirmed (via text) that I should not let them in without an appointment and that she would find out what was going on. In the meantime, I started putting the dishes away, and envisioning scenarios in my head of what could happen, all the while periodically grabbing my phone and texting the Realtor to ‘vent.’ She was very nice about it…said she understood…told me to take a deep breath…said she didn’t blame me…she would feel the same way. Lo and behold, I get a text message from ‘Centralized Showing,’ which is the normal method of requesting a showing. It’s the Realtor for the people outside with Bud, trying to make an appointment for 7:30. That was 30 minutes from that moment. Ugh.
I didn’t want to show. I was upset! I wasn’t thinking clearly, and I wasn’t ready. Through the fog, I could hear Bud telling me we really needed to do this…especially since it turned out that these were the people who just signed a contract to buy the house. I knew I needed to show it, and if I didn’t, it could cause ‘bad blood’ between us and our potential buyers. Every ‘I-don’t-like-the-unexpected’ bone in my body was screaming, “I DON’T WANT TO SHOW THE HOUSE! I’M NOT READY!”
I finally was able to make my fingers text the word, “Yes” to the text message requesting the showing (that’s standard protocol with Centralized Showing.) I whipped three bowls out of the cupboard, and put yogurt in them to use to entice the chickens into their run. They readily followed me into the run, like sheep to the slaughter. I gave them their yogurt, secured the gate to the run, and then furiously started picking up chicken poop. Have I ever mentioned that chickens are veritable pooping machines? They really know how to poop! After a day of eating and roaming, the whole back porch is covered in it. WARNING: Graphic photo ahead!
I didn’t have time to sweep the whole porch; just time enough to pick up the poop. I came inside and looked at the carpet. I sighed as the dirt clods on the carpet stared up at me. I had to rationalize that it was just specks of dirt and debris, and that it was just my perfectionism that made them seem like clods. I decided not to vacuum. Bud knew the drill. He had already lit the candles, and had done a few other things he knows I like to do before a showing.
I went up to Bud, feeling defeated and looked up at him. “I’m not going to vacuum the carpet. I don’t have time.” I hung my head in shame and defeat.
I felt Bud come near, wrap his arms around me and give me a big, warm hug. “You’re doing the right thing, Honey.”
I let out a big sigh, allowing his hug to absorb all of my stress. “I guess I’m ready, then. If you’ll go out and tell them they can come in, I’ll wait for you in the garage.”
I was embarrassed…didn’t want to have to see them or talk to them. Bud came in the garage, we got in the car and left to go get a snow cone. It was just what the Doctor ordered for a day such as this.