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Sunday, August 3, 2008

When Balloons Go Wrong

When Balloons Go Wrong

It's Sunday and some people go to Church (like real Church, not Talbots) and Realtors run Open Houses.  This is an activity that I think the general public has a lot of shallow uninformed opinions about.  For instance, clients have told me that Realtors run Open Houses just for themselves, to pick up clients. Yes, we do. That is how we sell your house.  It is not true that we enjoy littering the landscape with signs and once we shove them into the ground next to that stop sign, we forget all about them.  Well, just because you go past the same spot ONCE a week on Sunday morning, and Every Time you DO, that sign is there, it doesn't mean that I haven't picked up it by 4:15 the previous Sunday, ridden around with it in the back of my car all week, and then pounded it back into the roadbed at 12:45 today.  

Think about it.  It's  Sunday.  Sunday you could be going to Church as I said before or Sunday you could be spending with your family, or doing laundry or mowing the lawn of your own house.  I work seven days a week even in a challenging market like this because I have to be always available.  But Sunday is also the day I could be driving my clients around to look at houses.  Or Sunday is the day I could be answering phones at my office. I could be doing that, but instead, I am sitting in a sparkling clean, cool house for sale waiting for buyers to show up. In order to get to the point where I am waiting for buyers though, I have to go through a certain number of steps.

I have to get balloons.

I do not know why balloons are a perquisite for selling houses, but Real Estate runs on five things:  Paper, Money, Food, Signs and Balloons.  If just one of these elements is missing, the national economy will tank.  I think MSNBC ought to launch an investigation into who forgot to put their balloons out in Florida. Wasn't me.  Anyhow, I can not hold an Open House without balloons and they must have helium and they must be filled up the morning of the Open House.  The tank I can use for free is at the office, a twenty mile one way trip and it just seems silly now to send eight dollars in gas dollars to drive down when I can get five balloons filled up for five dollars at the grocery store which is only 11 miles away.  If I start to think of the mammoth Paul Bunyan size carbon foot print this activity produces I get a headache. Once you get the balloons blown up, you have to transport them.  In your car.  Normally I have a plastic bag (I KNOW I KNOW IT JUST GETS WORSE AND WORSE) that I use and you can fit about five balloons in a contractor size clean up bag.  I have seen other realtors with nets and anchors and stuff in their cars.  You can not put six helium balloons into your car for transport without the Itty Bitty Committee in your head going absolutely nuts.  The bickering is relentless.  The Green Guilt Giant is pissed and flashing pictures of sea lions wearing collars of (YOUR COMPANY HERE) balloons on ice bergs.  The Traffic Cop is writing out a warning for obstruction of the rear view mirror.  The Mother is beating you up for not spending Sunday with your family baking casseroles and other memorable meals.  The Frightened Adult is wringing her hands and speaking in low tones of Accidents that Are Avoidable.  But, you know, you go ahead and do it anyway because on a good day you can only listen to about ten percent of what they say, anyway.

So this morning, I am already at the office for phone duty so I can blow up my balloons for free but I do not have a plastic bag and I anchor the five strings of my balloons around a bottle of Mother's Sealant and Wax I get from behind the passenger seat.  I bought the wax but apparently you have to apply it for your car to shine - you can't let the bottle fall out of the Pep Boys bag and roll under the seat of your car if you want a showroom shine.  Now that is an activity you could spend a Sunday afternoon on.  But, I secure the balloons and the wax snugly behind the passenger seat.  This is going to be fine.

Since I am obsessing about gas and the environment, and since the interior of my car is about 150 degrees because of the black leather and the August midday sun,  I open the sunroof.  I just saw on tv that UNDER 45 mph, you are getting better gas mileage with the windows down and the sunroof open.  If you are going OVER 45 mph, you are better off running the air and cutting the drag.  Once underway, I open the windows and appreciate the breeze.

Which toys playfully with the knot I tied around the wax bottle.  Coyly, the balloons rise over the back of the passenger seat and flirt with me in the rear view mirror.

Then, predictably, one pops through the sunroof.  At this point, I have pushed the button which closes the sunroof s-l-o-w-l-y and carefully. It  slowly mashes one of the balloons like a toddler's head in the opening.  One balloon is out flapping in the wind at 46 mph, one is caught by the window against the frame of the car, the rest are jammed behind the headrest of the passenger seat.  It is several miles before the one on the outside pops - I didn't pull over because...I was just struck that it might be interesting to see where this controlled event would take me. 

Well, of course, one place it took me was being pointed at by small children in passing mini vans.  Another place was a feeling of living on the edge...in a non -sky diving, no bungie cord sort of way. 

When I get to the first place I am putting out signs I take the pictures above.  Now I have a blog.  It seems silly not to share.   This morning I was talking to another agent about going with flags instead of balloons.  I am going to order them right now.  


John Young said...

Shirley, this is EXACTLY why blogs exist. So I can get a peek behind the scenes at the Five Pillars of Realty, and at the Tiny Committee, and see what happens when balloons ride out the sunroof.

Have you considered in addition to balloons and flags, maybe a waving gorilla? Then the gorilla could spend the rest of the week making food and filling out paperwork.

Shirley Landis VanScoyk, Rodeo Princess said...

John, there are a lot of gorillas in real estate! But unfortunately they eat all the food and mess up the paperwork. Tuesday is a major gorilla day - it's the day we have "Broker's Tour". The gorillas drive around, go in houses on the pretext that they were invited in, and eat wraps and death by chocolate brownies.

lisasabatier said...

In New Orleans, we have drinks at our open houses.

dogcrate said...

Balloons are the crack cocaine of real estate agents.

Shirley Landis VanScoyk, Rodeo Princess said...

Lisa, in New Orleans, you have drive -in margarita stands! And that is why I love NOLA. But,maybe I should try that on my listing - have a frozen margarita Sunday Open!

Dogcrate - you are so right!

lisasabatier said...

Actually, drive thru daiquiri shops, but same diff!

Shirley Landis VanScoyk, Rodeo Princess said...

Okay, I knew that is what it was, but I couldn't spell dakkeri but I could spell margarita.

I would post an episode about our yearly Mardi Gras trip, Lisa, but it is so peaceful, so pleasant, nothing remarkable ever really happens except that first trip with you know who and then of course, the mamba contest. The itty bitty committee must have been on vacation, too.

lisasabatier said...

Oh, you don't want to mention the contest at the post Thoth parade, pre Bacchus parade Audubon park party attended by thousands, band: Rockin Doopsie, where the annual hotly contested conga contest was this particular year not at all contested by virtue of one particular Shirley's congas taking the cake (or the "you've got some 'splainin to do T-shirt") by unanimous consent of said thousands of attendees bowing at the feet of the conga queen, as she was hauled up on stage -- ok I won't mention it! (btw -- it was a conga contest, but same diff!).

Shirley Landis VanScoyk, Rodeo Princess said...

I guess I was sort of fishing, knowing you would rise to the bait, but the Famous Conga Contest was one of the most special moments of my life. BUT also a moment when it is hard to explain yet again, that no, I wasn't drunk. I think that dance started the decent of the congas, though, and I might have to use your professional services at some point in time to lift them back up closer to their original neighborhood.