In the Trenches: An Outside Party

A collection of stories from real estate professionals detailing crazy, funny, or poignant experiences that have happened on the job.
Squirrel With Fork & Spoon

© Steve Musgrave

One Halloween, my office hosted a potluck lunch for our agents, who were also encouraged to bring clients. More than 30 people arrived, wearing creative costumes and bearing enticing dishes.

But then an uninvited guest who wouldn’t be ignored showed up at the door: a little gray squirrel who lived in the oak trees next to the brokerage. He was already known to many of the agents, who regularly went outside to feed him nuts and French fries. (And boy, did he love those fries!) Presumed to be the same animal day after day, the squirrel was viewed by some as a company mascot. On the day of the party, our mascot was stationed at the building’s front door with his paws up against the glass pane, presumably with a hankering for our smorgasbord of brain-shaped Jell-O, Swedish meatballs, and baked lasagna.

His cute face notwithstanding, we weren’t going to let him in. But he grew impatient and started pounding those paws loudly enough for everyone to hear! The squirrel was still there when it came time for agents to head out for appointments. We feared he’d slip inside if we opened the door. Laughing hysterically and feeling like hostages, we devised an escape plan. One of the party guests went out the back door and distracted the squirrel with a morsel of food so people could easily get to their cars.

In the end, the squirrel’s persistence paid off royally. After nearly everyone was gone, we took the leftovers outside and let the squirrel dine to his heart’s content. While he’ll never become a client, we certainly excelled at serving him.

—Winifred Smith, CRB, AHWD, RE/MAX Advance Realty II, Miami

Red Light, Green Light

I’m an active volunteer with the Knights of Columbus charity in my hometown. Every April, we collect donations to go toward New Jersey residents with special needs, giving candy to donors. Little did I know that while participating in the drive in 2006, I would be the one receiving a sweet treat.

I was at an intersection with a donation bucket in hand. When drivers stopped at a red light, I walked down the line of cars, asking for donations. I spotted a local veterinarian in the traffic line whom I knew well, and I stopped at his car and said, “Hey, Dr. A, my office just listed a commercial building in town that would be perfect for your practice.” He asked that I send him property details. He then donated some money to the cause, which I appreciated. About four months later, he ended up working with my colleague, Bob Durso, and me to buy the 22,000-square- foot building for $1.5 million. He needed more room for his business, and the property included space he could rent out to others. The experience reminded me that opportunities can pop up anywhere, anytime—even while you’re waiting for the light to change.

—Robert S. Golden, J.J. Elek Realty, Woodbridge, N.J.

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