Life Out Here

Just a small way to keep my friends and family, who are strewn about the country, in The Know about my life in Seattle.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

She has met the Enemy

So, a friend of mine, let's call her....oh, I dunno....um....Bee....had a job interview with a real estate company. She was a bit nervous that this "real estate" company might be part of the evil that's putting up all of the skinnies, but Bee is never one to make snap judgements. She gave them the benefit of the doubt and decided to go talk with them anyway. The job sounded interesting - a lot of research and database work. Bee is not entirely happy at her current job so she's always keeping her eye out for something else.

So after a lengthy phone interview last week, Bee went in to sit down with the Head Guy. He seemed nice enough. A bit arrogant, but that's a lot of people, so you can't just write those off every time you meet one. The Head Guy told Bee a little bit about each of the three components of his office.

One component is the townhome group. They primarily sell townhomes.

The second component is the condo conversion team. They buy apartment buildings that are currently full of renters, kick the renters out, throw in some granite countertops and stainless steel appliances, then sell those 750 square foot "condos" for $400,000. They deem it Affordable Homeownership.

And the third group is the development group. This is the group Bee would be directly assisting. These people scour the city for buildable lots. Then, they send letters to the homeowners (yes, there is sometimes still a house on these "buildable lots") asking the homeowners if they'd like to sell their home for an unbelieveable amount of money. Once the homeowner sells their house (to a developer, unbeknownst to them), the development group razes the house and puts up four or six skinnies on that lot that sell for $400,000 each because they have stainless steel appliances. Again, affordable homeownership! And the person who sold his little 2 bedroom, 1 bath house for $700,000 now has some money to live on. Isn't it a beautiful story? They're actually doing that person a favor! And in turn, they're creating.....say it with me........Affordable Homeownership!!

My god, how could Bee pass up such an incredible opportunity?! The Head Guy told her she could be making MILLIONS in the first three years of working with this company!! MILLIONS!!

As Bee sat there and contemplated money versus emotions, the Head Guy continued to babble about exponential growth and urban sprawl and density. He told her that, like it or not, this was just how it is. And that $400,000 is really a great deal for prime neighborhoods.

Then he asked her if she had any questions.

Have you met my friend Bee? She's not really an outspoken person. She hates confrontation. She'd rather keep her trap shut and walk away quietly. However, she knew she was not going to work for this company. She knew that she would be too embarrassed to tell her friends where she worked, or that she sent letters out to unsuspecting homeowners. She knew she would hate herself day in and day out. Bee is sensitive like that.

So Bee asked, "Affordable homeownership for whom? $400,000 is not affordable to me or really anyone I know. Tearing down a perfectly good house just put up four more tiny houses is beyond me. It's sickening to see the way houses are coming down in my neighborhood, especially when I can't even buy those new little "affordable" things that are going up. And you try to pursuade people to sell their houses so you can tear them down? I couldn't do that. No way...."

The Head Guy's face never changed expressions. Bee knew he'd heard all this before. He would not be unnerved. He has his big 4700 square foot home on the eastside to go home to, along with a team of four "gals" to clean it. She knows this because he conviently worked it into the conversation.

"Well, you'll need to decide what your ethics are and what you're comfortable with and if this is the right job for you. Why don't you give us a call if you're interested in coming back in and talking with us? Maybe by Wednesday? We've got a lot of applicants we're trying to get through......"

Bee smiled through gritted teeth, shook his hand and left. And as she drove home, all she could do was think about how she had the enemy right there in her grasp. He was so close. She should have said more. She should have told him to get the hell out of her neighborhood. She should have thrown holy water on him and held a cross up to his face.

Instead, she walked (and vented) with her friend around their beautiful neighborhood.

In the area that hasn't succumbed to the skinnies yet.

8 Comments:

Anonymous Mom said...

You tell "Bee" that your mom said "Way to go girl!"

4:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

No matter what Bee said to him, he wouldn't have heard her. He is so into what he is doing, nothing else matters to him. The people of Lynnwood are proud of Bee.

7:31 PM  
Anonymous Dee said...

Good for Bee for standing up in what she believes in. Although Bee is fighting a losing battle and there is nothing she (or you) can do about it. It is what it is - my new motto. You know something funny? We can't even build a house on Bucky's family farm (and believe me we've been trying to make that work for about 6 months now) b/c of all the rules, laws, red tape, etc., etc. about building on farms b/c they're trying to preserve farm land. But if a developer came in and bought it, he would be able to build however many homes he wanted. Doesn't seem fair, does it?

4:49 AM  
Blogger Lenny said...

i like your writing and your sentiment.

6:19 AM  
Anonymous Dee said...

One more thing - Bee wouldn't have been making MILLIONS in the first three years - maybe the Arrogant Head Guy would, but not Bee. I wouldn't have worked for him just b/c he "worked into the conversation" that he had a 4700 square foot house with 4 gals who cleaned it! Ass.

4:36 AM  
Blogger The Hamilton's said...

Good for Bee on standing up for what she believes in! I understand what Dee said, but don't completely agree that it's always a losing battle. If it were, Hughesville (where I live) would be dealing with a minor league baseball stadium being built. The residents fought and won. Sometimes the little people can win.

7:03 AM  
Anonymous antiem said...

Unfortunately, Mr Bignrich wouldn't care what Bee has to say, or anyone else. Good for Bee for saying as much as she did! On behalf of all of us and our beautiful community.

You are such an outstanding writer! I was right there in the room with Bee. You could submit this to anyone for publication. At least the Real Change? BTW, did you see the article in the Sunday Seattle Times about the guy who moved a house on Phinney Ridge before it was torn down? He got a bargain, true, but also saved a good house.

10:40 PM  
Anonymous none ya said...

Do you live in an apartment building? I wonder what old man and woman lived there before an "enemy," came in and actually TOOK their house via Eminent Domain (no $700,000 back then)...so sad...you should research it

12:28 PM  

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