Someone was holding a garage sale down the road on the weekend. They had a big hand-painted sign:
They also had a couple of other signs:
Sail of the century!
Everythink must go!
I decided to give it a miss.
I am officially getting old. It’s the shoes you see. Since stress fracturing my foot I can’t wear most of my shoes. There has been talk of orthotics. I’ve looked at Homy-Peds with a new understanding. Anything flat makes my foot hurt and gets me worried about causing another fracture.
I used to think younger people who wore orthotics and complained about foot pain and such things really should just shut up and get on with it. They were whingers. Old people had problems with their feet. Like back pain, I found it so BORING to hear about. Incredibly painful if you are suffering from it but tedious for all around you.
And foot pain is tedious. It’s that kind of nagging pain that is not bad enough to warrant pain killers but uncomfortable enough to inhibit your day-to-day life. No one wants to hear about it and I don’t blame them
I can tell all those around me are sick of me whinging about my feet and the fact that I can’t get a decent pair of runners. Which leads me to the one of the biggest gripes about having to wear sensible shoes ALL THE TIME. I have taken to wearing runners because they are practical. It’s fairly simple, I want something in any colour but white. Black preferably. I can wear kids sizes. I can’t wear mens. I wear jeans a lot and the Seinfeld look just doesn’t do it for me. Call me crazy.
Seinfeld: It’s just wrong
I am not the only one who doesn’t want their feet lit up like the main drag on a Saturday night. I have spoken to a lot of people about this. (Ok, about three people in my family). One would think that it would not be hard to walk into a shoe store and find a pair of comfortable runners in a dark hue that fit me. Well, in this town it’s impossible. They exist, I’ve seen them on the internet. It must be true. I could order them online but something about buying shoes online that are supposed to be ultra-comfortable just doesn’t sit well with me.
So, I’ll wear this pair that are vaguely suitable until they wear out and every now and then I’ll slip into my favourite boots until I am hobbling and am forced back to the runners. In the meantime I am hoping that someone in a sports shoe company will get it into their heads that not everyone wants to wear shoes that could blind you.
Recently I have been complaining about the lack of a decent bookshop in or indeed, anywhere near, this town. Today I am going to complain about the confounding and altogether nerve-frazzling way in which real estate agencies are run. That is, confounding and nerve-frazzling for those looking to rent a property. So, some tips from a long-term renter:
1. If you don’t want to deal with renters, don’t manage rental properties.
It’s simple really. If dealing with enquiries, updating your website, keeping your rental list current, showing properties, processing applications and returning phone calls is just too hard, then don’t advertise the service. You’re clearly not providing it.
2. Not all renters are trying to pull a swifty or want to trash your properties.
Yes, I have rented before. Yes, I have references. Yes, I know that someone else owns the house but I am looking for somewhere to LIVE. A dog doesn’t s**t in their own bed and all that.
3. If you advertise a property make sure you can provide an inspection time.
If I’m looking for a home I would like to inspect it. Sometime soon after I see the advertisement would be good. A nice idea might be to organise an inspection time with the vacating tenant when they give notice or at least soon after. You could advertise this time on the web, in the listing for the house. You know how you don’t like having to call prospective tenants back and give them a time? Or have prospective tenants continually call as you won’t take their name to call them back? Well, this little inspection-time-on-the-web technique will save all that hassle. It’s magic. (And yes, I know you are worried about security but having rented for 15 years in the wilds of inner west Sydney I noticed all the agents there seemed to advertise inspection times on the web…)
4. Renters aren’t usually available to do inspections in the middle of a weekday.
You know how you are so worried about potential renters having jobs? Well, most people with jobs actually work during the week, especially around, oh…2pm…
5. Try to be as transparent as possible about the applicant selection process.
If you are going to turn the process into a race and approve the first acceptable application received, then make this known. If you are going to collect all applications then go through an interminable approval process, then make sure we know this. I don’t really enjoy spending two hours on your form that requests the finer details of my weekly spending and collecting 100 points of identification documentation only to be told the house has been leased. Three hours after the inspection.
6. Small offices require multi-tasking.
I know the offices up here are small but that is all the more reason why you need to organise your information properly and have everyone informed. If I have a query about an inspection time for a house that is for sale, I don’t appreciate being told I should come back when the sales person is off the phone. It’s a simple request. A time. Have a list that you prepare for each round of inspections. Make sure it is freely available and all your staff know where it is. If you don’t have enough people to organise inspections, then re-think your business. Most people don’t like buying or renting houses on spec.
7. Even though I am renting now that doesn’t mean I always will.
One day I might be looking to buy a house. If I went into your agency and had to wait several minutes for your attention while you pretended to be busy I won’t be real keen to buy a house from you. Nor would I be keen to have such a person managing my property should I wish to rent it.
8. Renters are people too.
We like to be treated like people who have as much right to live in the world as those who own property. There are many reasons why a person may be renting and it might not always be because they can’t manage money and have no job and are generally unfit to grace the planet. A bit of civility please. Small towns are full of talk. Manners are noticed.
That is all.
One thing that is definitely missing from this part of ‘the country’ is a decent bookshop. There is no bookshop in this small town. There was a secondhand joint that existed for a while whose stock was not too shabby but it didn’t last long.
So today when I was walking home I noticed a sign for a secondhand bookshop and ‘exchange’ (shudder) in the same arcade as the now-defunct store. I did a u-turn and went to check it out immediately.
Not surprisingly it was a total disappointment. It was to be expected that the stock would be primarily romance and airport novels but what disappointed me more was that the person running it obviously knew nothing about book buyers or readers. When he asked me “what kind of books” I liked I wanted to say “the one’s with covers and paper in between” but bit my tongue. When I didn’t respond effusively to his question he guessed that “you don’t like romance?” Er. no Sherlock. Not really. When I was not any more forthcoming than “all different kinds of books really” (because this is true) he went back to the gigantic headphones he had been wearing when we walked in. Rule number 1 of selling secondhand books: the customer likes to be left alone. If they want something they will ask.
I persisted with the stock, thinking that it’s often in places like this that you find gems. Alas, this was not one of those times. I dragged Dash away from his ancient book on the Concorde – ignoring his pleas to buy it because I didn’t want to explain that it no longer flew due to a fiery and spectacular crash – and left. The shopkeeper was not impressed that we had not bought anything, making it even less likely that I’ll go back.
Please, for the love of god, someone open a half-decent bookshop that is reasonably priced and has real shelves that are ordered logically and not in some representation of someone’s home cataloguing system. (Big books go here, small books go there, fiction goes here, contemporary fiction goes there, fiction written by women with gold lettering on the cover goes over there. For FUCK’S sake have you never heard of the Dewey system? What about alphabetical order? I know you can get all jazzy with faceted classification these days but books are NOT DIGITAL. They can’t be in seven places at the same time!) Er sorry, went into some kind of fugue state there…So, back to that shop. Yes, a bookshop. Here. In this town. Someone? Please do not make me do it myself.