Not long after my broker settled me into an apartment, she invited me to coffee to talk. I assumed this was normal, sort of a “how is it going so far in that ridiculously overpriced small studio that I rented to you?” type of conversation. However, when I asked my friends if they also had coffee with their broker after signing a lease, most of them reacted by raising their eyebrows in a state of perplexed amusement.
Not knowing what to expect, I met my broker anyways. She suggested the new trendy chocolate cafe in the neighborhood where I proceeded to stand at the counter for ten minutes debating what to order. Drawing upon her “unique” charm that had pressured me to sign the lease after only fifteen minutes at the apartment, my broker employed the same technique to convince me to order the famous hot chocolate instead of the coffee.
Her assessment of the hot cocoa as “simply divine,” declared in a New York City accent, similar to Joan Rivers on the Red Carpet, left me with little opportunity to protest. Despite my visible hesitation, Joan pushed, “Come on! You could use a little chocolate on your bones!” However, the real reason for my indecisiveness: I had recently self-diagnosed myself as Lactose Intolerant. A slight hypochondriac who refused to go to the doctor to get tested or pop an over the counter pill, I just began avoiding milk completely when the stomach aches started. Clearly, I could not tell my sixty year old broker that hot chocolate gave me gas. Wasn’t it supposed to be the other way around? She should complain about those things at her age, not me at twenty three.
So, I wound up with a giant cup of gourmet $15 hot cocoa steaming in front of me at the table. I nervously sipped the drink, in fear she would yell at me for wasting money if I did not finish it. I hoped my stomach would cooperate during our conversation as we settled into the thinly uncomfortable wood chairs which were literally stationed in the store front window. On display for every person who walked passed us on Madison Avenue, my broker began her pitch. “So darling, I have a few girls who work for me and you would be a perfect addition,” she declared.
Amused by her proposal, I reminded her: I had a full-time job,”remember you did my background and credit check?” I told her. “Oh no, this is part-time. I send you descriptions of apartments. You post them on Craigslist for me — whenever you can” she explained. “I just can’t be bothered with posting. It’s so complicated and frustrating. The people who respond are such whack-a-doos. I need you girls to weed out the weirdos for me,” she ranted. “Of course, you would be fabulous at this. You can use that brilliant Ivy League education of your’s to edit the posts ever so slightly — because we can’t have them all looking the same. Then, you filter out the real potential renters from the non-committal, and pass them on to me. For every successful rental you make happen, you get $100 bucks!” Joan declared triumphantly.
My mind raced with questions, but I decided to be impulsive. Seriously, how hard could this be? $100 dollars for maybe 15 minutes of my time? I agreed. “Perfect, darling,” my broker smiled, her eyes literally twinkling from glittery green eye shadow that had smudged into the corners (because that’s what happens when you wear make up like that in the middle of the afternoon).
The next day, I started work, opting to post the apartments in the mornings and evenings to avoid impacting my real work day. Initially, I listed my personal email with the Craigslist posts. Quickly, I realized what a mistake that had been – my inbox flooded instantly with inquires. I could not respond fast enough. Then, practically moments after I would post, my phone would ring as well. Yes, I listed my number. At 7am, it was not a pleasant start to the day.The apartment hunters would ask questions I did not have the answers to give. So, I would call Joan to ask for more information, and it turned into a back and forth ping pong rally.
However, my part-time gig moonlighting as a Craigslist Assistant came to an end when I received an inquiry from a woman with many dogs. Now, I’m a huge dog person and as she described her dilemma of being evicted from her current place because they no longer allowed animals, she seemed worthy of a prompt response. I called Joan immediately to refer this woman to her, but my broker stubbornly refused. “No way!” Joan shouted on the phone. “That woman is crazy. I know her, and there is no way I’m working with her,” my broker declared.
Too crazy for Joan, huh? It was then that I decided to take my $100 commission from the one rental (clearly not to the canine lady), and ended my career as an apartment poster. Of course, not before my computer got a virus from one of the Craigslist posts – that cost more than $100 dollars to fix.