19 May 2012

More lessons

Oh the never-ending joys of selling a house!  The fun never ends.  The first time we sold a house back in the 90's could not have been easier.  I don't think our buyers asked for a single thing.  When we sold our dream house in California, we didn't sell it.  My then-employer bought it from us and sold it on their own. Talk about easy!  This time, however, not so much.

Selling a home in a buyer's market, which is of course what we are stuck in, is not fun.  Buyers are reading the Ph.D edition of the book featured here in the Den today.  The litany of back and forth and 'credit this/credit that' requests have us worn out, but not to the point submission.  We're going to get through this and our buyers are going to have a nice home.  The lessons in patience and controlling a smoldering rage are being learned daily.

This latest round of negotiations in closing the deal made me think of a time when I thought we were being extorted.  Our Lady of Awesome was about 18 months old and the stunningly patient and mighty fine SML and I decided it was time for a grown-up vacation.  We found four days and marched ourselves, just the two of us, down to Mazatlan, Mexico. It was a great getaway for first-time parents, made all the more awesome by flying Scare-o-mexico.  I am not kidding when I tell you the pilot wore a leather racing glove with all the fingers cut out and that there was a statue of the Virgen de Guadalupe in the center of the control panel in the cockpit of the MD80.

After a great break, we were heading back to the States, all our money spent on good food and cheesy Mexican silver wedding bands.  It was great to use my Spanish and as we approached the check-in agent, our spirits were high.  They were crushed quickly when the fascist behind the counter demanded several hundred pesos from each of us to leave the country.  What?  Snatching our passports and tickets (yep, long before e-tickets) and locking them in a cabinet, she kept demanding the pesos.  I finally got her to explain that it was for a departure tax not included in our tickets.  So I handed her my credit card because, seriously, we had not a penny, centavo, dollar, or peso on us.  She wouldn't accept the card.  Now this is when I snapped and informed her that my credit limit alone was more than her annual salary and that she needed to take the card.  All this is going on in Spanish and it was at this point that we were 'invited' out of line.

So I quickly translated our plight to my wife and said, 'Start begging.  Seriously.' Also, at the time, there was not an ATM to be had in this airport.  The early 90's were not good ones for international travelers.  So I hit on a plan to get a cab back to the city to the office of my then-employer to get cash off my corporate card there.  Realizing that said office wouldn't open for hours and that we'd miss our flight, I went back to the begging plan.  It was at this point that a man who had been in line and heard to brouhaha came up to me and in Spanish, asked if he could help.  I quickly explained my plight including my plan to head to the city. He lit up and pulled a credit card that employer (he was a customer) and said, 'I'll give you the money and then you can just credit my bill!'  I wasn't about to go into a lecture on the regulations that prevented from doing that.  Instead, I got his business card, gave him mine, and promised him he'd see the credit.  He handed over the cash and I marched to the head of the line to see the dour face of the same check-in fascist.  She seemed most irritated that we'd found the solution and she begrudgingly gave me back our passports and gave us our boarding passes.  And with that, we were on a plane, headed home.

What did we learn?  Always, and I mean always, have a small stash o'cash hidden somewhere on yourself when on the road.  When flying internationally, always make sure your departure taxes are paid in advance when the can be. Also, don't mouth off to the person checking you in as they can make your life an unmitigated nightmare if you cross them.  I'm still surprised we didn't get cancelled completely.  Good times.

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