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Know What I Mean, Man?

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Sometimes I need a man

Sometimes I need a man. Even when I act like a man it doesn’t work. There are some men who need to speak to another man. Have you ever worked with someone who wants to tell you constantly that they’ve been in the business for 20 years? Who cares? Maybe they’ve done the same job once a year for twenty years. So I’m trying to get this house ready to list. Delay. Delay. Delay. It’s always something. The sellers. The handyman. The stager. I’ve finally gotten everybody lined up and oooh, the sellers -brother and sister – disagree on something else. Delay some more. The brother says to me today, “This must be like dealing with a divorce.” Uh, yeah, kinda. So I get the go-ahead from them. Everyone’s lined up and ready to go, then the dominoes start falling.

The stager can’t come after the handyman. She’ll be out of town the day I need her to install. Okay, so she has to go in before the handyman. He’ll have to deal.

I email him the list. He wants to do a walk through. It’s five items. How hard can it be? Okay. I go do the walk through – the guy’s highly recommended – room by room pointing, explaining. It must be me. Explaining in nauseating detail that the tasks need to be done in a specific order. The photographer’s coming on Thursday. The jobs that are going to show in the picture need to be done first. The hole patching and light fixture replacement can be done later.

I’m not his mama

I’m not his mama. I don’t stand over him. But something isn’t right. I go over there and see he’s not doing the items in order. Oh, man. “Look, dude, you gotta do the stuff in order. ” I get, “Yeah. Yeah.”

Thursday morning on the way to the gym, I think: You’d better go check it out. I drive up, the granny rails from the sidewalk to the front door – the first thing on the list – are still there. Photogs coming at noon. Oh, poo poo. Flowers aren’t planted. Tools all over the living room. Furniture in disarray. Double poo poo. He’s supposed to be out of there that morning. He’s not halfway through the list.

Of course I get voice mail…

I call and leave a message. Of course I get voice mail; it’s 7:00 in the morning and he starts bright and early at 10. That was the first clue I let slide. Eventually, “Are you going to be able to get this railing out by noon?” “Uh, no. I have to take my daughter to the doctor. I’m not going to get there until noon. I was going to call you to give you my schedule.” WHAT? I don’t want your schedule. I want you to come get this railing out. I sound like a hysterical woman – not a man.

Calling through my list of contractors. I get a hold of John. He says, I’ll call you back later. WHAT? What does that mean? I’ve gotta get this thing outta here.

I dig holes

So I get to work. I dig holes; plant the plants. Put all the tools in the garage. Move the furniture back. Sweep up the mess he’s left from installing the light fixtures that weren’t supposed to be installed until after the rail was removed. I’m at the top of a ladder sweating, trying to install light bulbs, a work truck pulls up. Guy’s looking at the railing. He comes in the front door. “You Vicki?” Yeah. “You Vicki?” Yeah. (Haven’t you ever seen a realtor in her sweats sweating at the top of a ladder?) You John? “Yeah.” Can you remove the handrail? “I’ll see what I can do.” The angels sing.

Now the first guy is furious. I get this email: “I have worked for many real estate agents over the last 20 + years (who cares), and know the proper order that this stuff is supposed to go in (You don’t, little lady). FIRST you get the repairs done, then you paint, then carpet, then clean, then stage, then photo. This is the way it works best. I think it is safe to say that we all know that” (except you, you stupid woman). If you’ve been doing this for 20 years, you should be able to tell that that isn’t new carpet; there was no painting crew – if there was, why would I have you painting? And stop being a cry baby. So you had to move some furniture. I’m the customer. I request. But noooo, he’s the man. He’s been doing this for 20 years. He knows what he’s doing. He’s going to show me how it’s done. NOT.

Sometimes I want to be a man. Know what I mean, man?

As a lifelong resident and local Realtor, Vicki has established herself as a respected member of the San Mateo County real estate community. She’s known for her wit, sarcasm, and her personality that shows through in her posts. You can find her spouting off at Twitter, here at ag, and her personal blog, San Mateo Real Estate Blog.com.

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7 Comments

7 Comments

  1. BawldGuy Talking

    March 30, 2008 at 1:21 pm

    Thanks a bunch, Vicki. I’m sitting alone catching up with things after breakfast with The Boss, and laughed so hard the cat now has three less lives. 🙂

    Turn off your female empathy gene for once, and make great, (and stress relieving) use of the words, “Your fired!”.

    Find folks who will do what you want when and how you want it done.

    These folks have been behaving this way with you ‘cuz it’s been working like a charm.

    Once you let them know, up front, you want results and not excuses, they’ll either smile, (the ones you want) or they’ll reveal themselves as chronic pains in the ass — at which time you’ll politely pass.

    You’re way too good at what you do to take this crud. Get in touch with your guy side, and kick some ass while you’re cleaning house. For every guy in your post who under performed, was tardy, and flat didn’t get the job done, there are 10 who will recognize a take charge gal (sorry, I’m 56 — deal with it) who is results oriented.

    Bottom line, Vicki? You’ve been far to nice — and they’ve been mistaking your kindness for weakness. Stop giving a damn about what they think of you, and start making them sensitive to what you think of them.

    Love your stuff.

  2. Matthew Rathbun

    March 30, 2008 at 2:07 pm

    Nah, you don’t want to be a man…. then you’d have to put up with hysterical female agents who don’t know the correct order in which repairs go in…. (that’s snarky me)

    Does it really matter what order stuff it to be done in, if he isn’t do any of it? I find it funny that folks complain about agents lack of involvement, when my personal experience has been that handy-“persons” have been far less dependable. There is ALWAYS something that happens with contractors to delay something.

    I really don’t think that that it has to do with a person’s gender as much as their ability to meet a customer’s reasonable expectations.

    Sorry you had that experience. I know it’s very stressful.

  3. Vicki Moore

    March 30, 2008 at 4:45 pm

    OMG. LOL. People are walking through my open house trying to figure out what I’m laughing at. I think the comments are funnier than the post.

    Jeff – I’m printing that and tacking it to my forehead and my mirror and my dash and my peg board.

    Matthew – All I can say is YEAH! That’s right!

  4. Lani Anglin-Rosales

    March 30, 2008 at 11:38 pm

    Vicki, I’ve been waiting for you to dish via blog since you mentioned a “terrible experience” on the phone! I am proud of you for getting your nails dirty, most people would have just crossed their fingers for good photos (or taken them on their own with their cell phones like 20% of agents here do- seriously).

    Jeff- tell Vicki how I do things so she can get *her* way too!

    Matthew- oh snarky you, you’re too funny.

    _______
    Vicki- I started in this industry in property management (female dominated) and didn’t do as well as when I hooked up with commercial development (ridiculously male dominated) and even though at first, everyone thought I was the tiny helpless girl, I took ’em by the you-know-whats and got things done. I’ve never been a b!tch, but ask anyone I’ve ever worked with- I’m persuasive because I’m not scared to TELL people what I want, TELL them directly (not harshly) that they’re failing and I expect better and then TELL them they’re fired if they aren’t performing. If they’re not doing the work anyhow, just use the F word. I mean F as in “Fired.” 😉

    Don’t WISH you were a man- JUST BE ONE!!! (minus the cargo shorts or baseball games)

  5. ines

    March 31, 2008 at 9:54 am

    I can man-handle anyone that crosses my path the wrong way better than any 6′ tall man could! 🙂 (and with FinesSE!!)

    Contractors fear me! Building officials respect me and this post Vicki, cracked me up like you would not believe.

  6. BawldGuy Talking

    March 31, 2008 at 11:15 am

    Now you guys are bein’ real! 🙂

    Tradesmen who’ve dealt with me before, now ask who will be in charge. They know it won’t be me, but they wanna be sure. The Boss takes no prisoners. 🙂

  7. Vicki Moore

    March 31, 2008 at 2:26 pm

    Jeff is too right. He and Benn can always read between the lines. I hate that!

    Lani & Ines – Now that I have good role models, I intend to use them as examples!

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Opinion Editorials

Popular opinion: Unemployment in a pandemic sucks [EDITORIAL]

(OPINION / EDITORIAL) I got laid off during the pandemic, and I think I can speak for all of us to say that unemployment – especially now – really, really sucks.

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Stressed man thinking over laptop about unemployment.

Despite not being in an office for what feels like an eternity, losing my job stung. Holding onto work during The Worst Timeline was rough, considering Rome was burning all around. My job was the boat of sanity I could sit in while the waves of bullshit crashed all around. Pre-pandemic, I had just separated from my wife, so my emotional health wasn’t in tip-top shape. But then millions of people go and get sick, the economy took a nosedive, and well, the world changed. When everything around you sucks, and people are on the news crying about unemployment and potential homelessness, you’re thankful as hell that you’re not with them – until you are.

I was writing for a startup, one that came with a litany of headaches thanks to fluctuating budgets and constant directional pivots, but it was steady work. When the Coronavirus hit, it was a scenario of “we’re going to get through this,” but as we switched gears again and again, I started to get an unsettling feeling: I’ve seen this story before. When you live in Austin and are in the creative field, you’ve worked with startups. And there are always trappings on when something lingers in the air – hierarchy shuffles, people aren’t as optimistic, and senior folks start quietly bailing out. Those are the obvious moves that make your unemployment-related Spidey sense tingle, but with COVID, everything is remote. There aren’t the office vibes, the shortened conversations that make you, “I know what’s happening here.” Instead, you’re checking Slack or email and surviving like everyone else.

We were happy to be working, to see the direct deposit hit every two weeks and sigh, knowing you were still in the fight, that you might see this thing through.

We saw our entire business change overnight. Leadership rose to meet the challenges of an old model rooted in hospitality, restaurants, and events, which died with a viral disease shotgun blast. Because the infrastructure was there, we managed to help out workers, and grocery stores work together to keep people fed across the nation. It was legitimately a point of pride. Like all things, though, the market settled. We bought time.

In July, I had a full-blown depressive episode. The weight of the divorce, the lack of human interaction, my work having less value, my career stalled felt like a Terminator robot foot on my skull. I couldn’t get out of bed, and everything I wrote were the smatterings of a broken man. And to my ex-bosses’ credit, my breakdown was NOT my best work, I could barely look at a computer, let alone forge thoughts on an entirely new industry with any authority, or even a fake it till you make it scenario.

When the CEO put time on my calendar, I knew it was a wrap. Startup CEOs don’t make house calls; they swing the ax. When you’re the lone creative in a company trying to survive a nearly company-killing event, you’re the head on the block. Creatives are expensive, and we’re expendable. Site copy, content, media placements, all that can kick rocks when developers need to keep the business moving, even if it’s at a glacial pace. When I was given my walking papers, it was an exhale, on one hand, I’d been professionally empty, but at the same time, I needed consistent money. My personal life was a minefield and I’ve got kids.

I got severance. Unemployment took forever to hit. The state of Texas authorized amount makes me cringe. Punishing Americans for losing their jobs during a crisis is appalling. Millions are without safety nets, and it’s totally ok with elected leaders.

There are deferments available. I had to get them on my credit cards, which I jacked up thanks to spending $8,500 on an amicable divorce, along with a new MacBook Pro that was the price of a used Nissan. I got a deferment on my car note, too.

I’ve applied to over 100 jobs, both remote and local. I’ve applied for jobs I’m overqualified for in hopes they’ll hire me as a freelancer. There are lots of rejection letters. I get to round two interviews. References or the round three interviews haven’t happened yet. I get told I’m too experienced or too expensive. Sometimes, recruiters won’t even show up. And then there are the Zoom meetings. Can we all agree we’re over Zoom? Sometimes, you don’t want to comb your hair.

I’ll get promised the much needed “next steps” and then a rejection email, “thanks but no thanks.” Could you at least tell me what the X-Factor for this decision was? Was there a typo? Did you check my Facebook? The ambiguity kills me. Being a broke senior creative person kills me. I interviewed President Obama and have written for Apple, but ask myself: Can I afford that falafel wrap for lunch? Do you think springing for the fries is worth that extra $3? You’ve got soup at home, you know.

I’m not unique. This is the American Experience. We’re stuck in this self-perpetuating hell. We keep looking for jobs. We want to work. There are only so many gigs to fill when there’s constant rollercoaster news on unemployment recovery. And as long as unemployment sucks, there’s going to be a lot of people bracing for impact come Christmas. Hopefully, the brass in Washington can pass a few bills and get us back to work. At least get Americans out of the breadline by pumping up what we’re surviving off of – across the board. Working people shouldn’t have to face getting sick to bring in an income, while casualties of the Corona War should be able to look at their bills and not feel like the assistant on the knife throwers wheel.

I’m about to be a line cook to make extra cash till an intrepid manager hires me. Who doesn’t want a writer working the grill who reads French existentialist essays for enjoyment? I’d rather sit on park benches and day dream, but that ain’t reality. I’ve got bills to pay in a broken America. Who wants a burger? Deep thoughts come free but an extra slice of cheese is extra.

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Opinion Editorials

7 ways to carve out me time while working from home

(OPINION / EDITORIAL) It can be easy to forget about self-care when you’re working from home, but it’s critical for your mental health, and your work quality.

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Woman in hijab sitting on couch, working from home on a laptop

We are all familiar with the syndrome, getting caught up in work, chores, and taking care of others, and neglecting to take care of ourselves in the meantime. This has always been the case, but now, with more people working from home and a seemingly endless lineup of chores, thanks to the pandemic. There is simply so much to do.

The line is thinly drawn between personal and professional time already, with emails, cell phones, and devices relentlessly reaching out around the clock, pulling at us like zombie arms reaching up from the grave. Working from home makes this tendency to always be “on” worse, as living and working take place in such close proximity. We have to turn it off, though.

Our brains and bodies need down time, me-time, self-care. Carving out this time is one of the kindest and most important things you can do for yourself. If we can begin to honor ourselves like this, the outcome with not only our mental and physical health, but also our productivity at work, will be beneficial. When we make the time to do things we love, our body untenses, our mind’s gears slow down that constant grinding. Burnout behooves nobody.

Our work will also benefit. Healthier, happier, more well rested, and well treated minds and bodies can work wonders! Our immune systems also need this, and we need our immune systems to be at their peak performance this intense season.

I wanted to write this article, because I have such a struggle with this in my own life. I need to print it out and put it in my workspace. Last week, I posted something on my social media pages that so many people shared. It is clear we all need these reminders, so I am paying it forward here. The graphic was a quote from Devyn W.

“If you are reading this, release your shoulders away from your ears, unclench your jaw, and drop your tongue from the roof of your mouth.”

There now, isn’t that remarkable? It is a great first step. Let go of the tension in your body, and check out these ways to make yourself some healing me-time.

  1. Set aside strict no-work times. This could be any time of day, but set the times and adhere to them strictly. This may look like taking a full hour for lunch, not checking email after a certain hour, or committing to spending that time outdoors, reading, exercising, or enjoying the company of your loved ones. Make this a daily routine, because we need these boundaries. Every. Single. Day.
  2. Remember not to apologize to anyone for taking this me-time. Mentally and physically you need this, and everyone will be better off if you do. It is nothing to apologize for! Building these work-free hours into your daily schedule will feel more normal as time goes on. This giving of time and space to your joy, health, and even basic human needs is what should be the norm, not the other way around.
  3. Give yourself a device-free hour or two every day, especially before bedtime. The pinging, dinging, and blinging keeps us on edge. Restful sleep is one of the wonderful ways our bodies and brains heal, and putting devices away before bedtime is one of the quick tips for getting better sleep.
  4. Of course, make time for the things you absolutely love. If this is a hot bath, getting a massage, reading books, working out, cooking or eating an extravagant meal, or talking and laughing with a loved one, you have to find a way to get this serotonin boost!
  5. Use the sunshine shortcut. It isn’t a cure-all, but sunlight and Vitamin D are mood boosters. At least when it’s not 107 degrees, like in a Texas summer. But as a general rule, taking in at least a good 10-15 minutes of that sweet, sweet Vitamin D provided by the sun is good for us.
  6. Spend time with animals! Walk your dog, shake that feathery thing at your cat, or snuggle either one. Whatever animals make you smile, spend time with them. If you don’t have pets of your own, you could volunteer to walk them at a local shelter or even watch a cute animal video online. They are shown to reduce stress. Best case scenario is in person if you are able, but thankfully the internet is bursting with adorable animal videos, as a backup.
  7. Give in to a bit of planning or daydreaming about a big future trip. Spending time looking at all the places you will go in the future and even plotting out an itinerary are usually excellent mood-boosters. It’s a bit different in 2020, as most of us aren’t sure when we will be able to go, but even deciding where you want to go when we are free to travel again can put a positive spin on things.

I hope we can all improve our lives while working from home by making time for regenerating, healing, and having fun! Gotta run—the sun is out, and my dog is begging for a walk.

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Opinion Editorials

Improve UX design by tracking your users’ eye movements

(OPINION / EDITORIAL) Research shows that the fastest way to determine user behavior and predict their response is by watching their eyesight. Use this data to improve your UX design.

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UX design being created by a designer on a laptop.

By design, an ice cream truck is meant to entice. It is colorful, stupidly loud with two whole songs from the 30s (usually off key because no one is left alive who can service those bells), and lots of colorful stickers that depict delicious frozen treats that look nothing like reality. If you need an off model Disney character that already looks a little melted even when frozen, look no further.

This is design in action – the use of clever techniques to drive engagement. Brightly colored decor and the Pavlovian association of hearing The Sting in chirpy little ding dings is all working together to encourage sales and interaction.

These principles work in all industries, and the tech sector has devoted entire teams, agencies, companies, groups, and departments to the study of User Experience (UX) explicitly to help create slick, usable applications and websites that are immediately understandable by users. Tools to improve utility exist by measuring user behavior, with style guides and accepted theories preached and sang and TED-talked all over.

The best way to check behavior is to observe it directly, and options to check where someone clicks has proven invaluable in determining how to improve layouts and designs. These applications are able to draw a heat map that shows intensified red color in areas where clicks congregate the most. An evolution of this concept is to watch eyesight itself, allowing developers a quicker avenue to determining where a user will most likely go. Arguably the shortest path between predicting response, this is one of the holy grails of behavioral measurement. If your eyes can be tracked, your cursor is likely to follow.

UX design can benefit greatly from this research as this article shows. Here’s some highlights:

Techwyse completed a case study that shows conversion on landing pages is improved with clear call-to-action elements. Users will focus on objects that stand out based on position, size, bright colors, or exaggerated fonts. If these design choices are placed on a static, non-interactive component, a business will lose a customer’s interest quickly, as their click is meant with no response. This quickly leads to confusion or abandonment. Finding where a person is immediately drawn to means you should capitalize on that particular piece with executable code. Want it boiled down? Grocery stores put Cheetos front and center, because everyone want them thangs.

Going along with this, Moz found that search results with attractive elements – pictures and video – are given much more attention than simple text. We are visually inclined creatures, and should never undervalue that part of our primal minds. Adding some visual flair will bring attention, which in turn can be leveraged usefully to guide users.

Here’s an interesting study – being that we are social animals, follow the gaze of others. If you’ve ever seen kittens watching a game of ping pong, they are in sync and drawn to the action. Similarly, if we notice someone look to the left, we instinctively want to look left as well. While this sounds very specific, the idea is simple – visual cues can be optimized to direct users where to focus.

The Nielsen Group says we look at things in an F pattern. I just think that’s funny, or at least a funny way to describe it. We follow from left-to-right (just like we read, and as websites are laid out using techniques first developed for newspapers, it naturally makes sense that we’d do the same). Of course, cultural or national differences arise here – right-to-left readers need the opposite. Always be sure to keep your target audience in mind.

Of course, there are several other findings and studies that can further promote idealistic layout and design, and it should always be the goal of designers to look to the future and evaluate trends. (Interestingly, eye tracking is the first option on this list!)

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