Chat @ Care-giving: Don’t Push Me!

Thrilled with the progess I’d made in the research for Mom & Dad’s independent living project, I called to see what Mom’s schedule was like.  I wanted to utilize the same tool with her that I’d developed as a real estate agent – drive-by day.

After my initial conversation with a potential buyer, when they thought they’d given me the details they wanted me to know, I didn’t usually know enough to find their perfect house.  My goal was to actually take clients into very few homes, but allow them to feel like they’d had the opportunity to see everything and make an informed decision.  I’d watched other agents  decide what the clients should like, show them a house or two and then make like a “Say Yes to the Dress” consultant, “Is this your home?”  More often than not, the clients would see three houses, want to see three more and then three more, until they decided one day that they really wanted to buy the first house they looked at, but it was already sold.  So the process would start again.

Instead I’d throw my clients in the car and say, “We’re not going inside any of these houses today.  Pretend all these properties cost the same, fulfill all your desires and look exactly the same on the inside.  All you have to do is tell me how you feel about the curb appeal.”  Of course, they never limited their comments to just curb appeal.  As we drove through neighborhoods, past shopping centers and around school zones, clients would open up about their real desires and their real concerns.  Sometimes I’d already located the home they would buy.  We’d make an appointment for a showing and write a contract.  Sometimes I’d have to go back to square one.  But after we found their home, every client said the most important part of the process was the drive-by day – and they thought I was a genius.

So, I was going to give my mom the benefit of my real estate experience.  I’d found over thirty-five potential properties and I wanted to get her feedback on them.  The call went like this:

“Hi Mom.  What are you up to today?”

(Long answer from Ruth including the fact that they would play 42 with friends later in the day.)

“Oh, I forgot all about 42.  I’ve just been working on the retirement center project and wanted to get some feedback.”

(Another long answer suggesting I didn’t appreciate how busy Mom was or how hard she worked.)

“OK Mom.  Like I said, I’d completely forgotten about 42.  You guys have a great time, but I want to drive you past these places while all the information is still fresh on my mind.  I’m taking Dad to the doctor on Monday. You think we could maybe take an hour or so then… to at least see the location of a few of the places in your neighborhood?”

(Total mother melt down.  Much dithering about Dad’s appointment time.  Concern over lunch.  And what would she wear?  She didn’t see how we could do it.)

So, I took a deep breath.  Explained how successful drive-bys had been when I sold real estate.  Assured her we wouldn’t even get out of the car.  Promised to start early so we wouldn’t interfere with lunch or Dad’s appointment.  In other words I begged her to cooperate with me.  In response, she chewed me out and then with her best authoritative voice commanded, “Don’t push me!”

Chastised, I apologized for upsetting her and got off the phone.  Then I cried.  Obviously, a prophet is never appreciated in her own hometown.  I needed to go back to the drawing board.  What would you have done?

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