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Real Estate Caravan From Hell Revisited




A few months ago I told you about the caravan with bats in the fireplace, but this story would make you wish for a bat…maybe even a pterodactyl or two. It takes place in Los Angeles of course. What better place to get a healthy heap of crazy on a sunny Tuesday morning? My friend told me the story, and I swear she’s not a candidate for re-hab. Of course, after this incident she would have had justification. Please enjoy:


Yes, it was a sunny Tuesday morning and agents were gathering for a lovely L.A. caravan day. Jan was doing a second brokers’ open, as her listing just wasn’t getting any action. In order to re-new interest, Jan had ordered the usual nice luncheon to entice hungry realtors and their (hopefully) hungry buyers. The bill of fare included a selection of Mexican dishes from La Salsa and home made guacamole. Jan was humming, birds were singing, and the bougainvillea was bougaining. You get the picture.

Jan was nearly ready to go when Neighbor Nate blew in like the fresh scent of septic. Nate padded through the door wearing mangy bedroom slippers, gym shorts and a Tee shirt that looked like a death shroud. He said he was a neighbor, but he wasn’t sure what direction he had come from. Jan, sympathetic to the challenges of the elderly, could not see past the wreckage that was Nate, or she might have been wary of the crazy captain of his shriveled ship. But noooo, she asked him to make himself at home and have a bite to eat while she set out desserts.

Bring on the Entertainment

Nate crammed a mini taco past his mine field of yellow teeth and mushy gums, and he was reaching for another when his body thanked his hostess with a loud bit of rumbling, accompanied by an odor that made the burritos smell like hibiscus. Assessing the sitch, Jan moved quickly to steer the gas-filled octogenarian away from the Mexican food and toward the cookies. Alas, whatever he swallowed was accompanied by a hearty gust of flatulence that he either couldn’t hear, or just heartily enjoyed. Jan said the fumes were so bad they could only have been covered with formaldehyde. She may have even momentarily considered blowing out the candles due to the flammable nature of Nate’s gift that kept on giving.

Jan, always quick on her feet, did a body blockade of the table and thrust some carrot sticks at the old relic. She plastered a smile on her face and cheerfully insisted that Nate and his internal fumigation machine go look at the rest of the house. Nate complied, dragging his shriveled frame out of the kitchen and down the hall, his spindly legs lost in his baggy gym shorts like abandoned Popsicle sticks. He left her with a whiff of Nate before moving on his merry way. As the first group of cars pulled up out front, Jan heated cookies in the oven to create a delicious fragrance to try to disguise Nate’s toxic cloud.

Always Keep the Party Lively

When the first group entered, they signed in and proceeded to head for the table like buzzards on carrion. The group was friendly and conversant, so much so that Jan forgot about her other visitor. When a second wave entered, the first group proceeded on a tour of the house, and Jan continued the friendly banter.

Suddenly there was a scream in the bedroom. In a flash of memory so vivid that Jan thought she was passing into the Light, she remembered Nate. She said she doesn’t remember her sprint down the hall, but she does remember the scene awaiting her. There on the bed, stripped of all his clothes, lay a beaming Nate. As the group stood in horror, Jan tried to pull the spread around him, but his seersucker body was anchoring it down. Several agents came to their injured senses and fled down the hall to head off any newcomers while Jan picked up Nate’s shirt and threw it over his deflated package. Unfortunately, Nate did not WANT his package covered, so he kept tossing off the garments faster than she could retrieve them and telling her to “get out of my room or I’m calling Celia.”

Good Manners Can Go a Long Way

Her patience shot, Jan ran back to the kitchen to call the police. Before they could arrive, Nate appeared back in the kitchen, carrying his clothes. He grabbed a cookie and flashed a crumpled grin. “Thank you for a really nice time,” he said. “I’m going to get Celia and bring her over to say hello.” Nate turned as Jan stood speechless, watching while the sun reflected off two atrophied buns as they dutifully followed their master out the door.

Of course, this was aptly timed with the arrival of Dan, an agent from her office who heard Nate’s expression of gratitude. Dan sized up naked Nate and grinned at Jan like a fourteen year old who had just gotten his first glimpse of his teacher’s cleavage. Red-faced Jan didn’t bother to explain, knowing that the story would take on a life of its own back at the office.

Ever the dutiful agent, Jan went back to straighten the bedroom and noticed that poor Nate had left a carrot stick on the pillow…and a urine spot on the bedspread. When she glanced out the window, she saw a policeman gently guiding Nate into the back of a police car, hopefully to help him find his way home.

Of course, no one ever found out who Celia was, but if she’s hiding from Nate, who could blame her? And if Jan now has a fear of old men in gym shorts, who could blame her?


I think we can all learn something from this story. 1) If someone seems dyspeptic, usher them toward the door, not away from it. 2) Always keep track of your guests, especially the ones whose eyes are like Jack Nicholson’s in The Shining. 3) If a guest cannot remember where they came from, or what they came for, chances are they won’t remember why they should keep their clothes on. 4) Never let anyone leave without your business card. The one odor worse than flatulence is the odor of an old listing!

Thank you Jan, and all my friends at Nelson Shelton, Sotheby’s International Realty and Keller-Williams for your great stories. Please visit for more tales from the trenches of real estate.

I wear several hats: My mink fedora real estate hat belongs to Sotheby’s International Realty on the world famous Sunset Strip. I’M not world famous, but I've garnered a few Top Producer credits along the way. I also wear a coonskin writer's cap with an arrow through it, having written a few novels and screenplays and scored a few awards there, too. (The arrow was from a tasteless critic.) My sequined turban is my thespian hat for my roles on stage, and in film and television, Dahling. You can check me out in all my infamy at LinkedIn,, SherlockOfHomes, IMDB or you can shoot arrows at my head via email. I can take it.

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  1. Lani Rosales

    June 5, 2009 at 11:44 am

    Gwen, I LOVE that your articles are always appalling, entertaining AND make me cringe every time!

  2. Joe Loomer

    June 5, 2009 at 12:02 pm

    note to self: Do not – under ANY circumstances – ever, EVER, eat or drink anything anywhere near your monitor, keyboard, cell phone, desk phone, or any other item that may be damaged by the involuntary snort of whatever is in your gullett when you read Gwen’s posts.

    I also had a momentary pang of sympathy for Nate. Maybe it wasn’t a pang, maybe I was laughing so hard I pulled a “Nate.” At least that’s what I’m calling it from now on – thanks GWEN!!

    Navy Chief, Navy Pride

  3. Gwen Banta

    June 5, 2009 at 2:28 pm

    Unfortunately, I have the same effect on men, Lani 🙂

  4. Gwen Banta

    June 5, 2009 at 2:39 pm

    I’m not sure that “pulling a Nate” is appropriate for an officer and a gentleman, but I won’t tell. Your visual was great, Joe. I hope I can continue to ruin small electronic equipment for you. Perhaps I will add that to my resume. I’ll call myself a “Loomerator” and give your name as a reference. I look forward to your comments every week – thanks so much.

  5. Joe Loomer

    June 5, 2009 at 3:42 pm

    Sorry Gwen, i figured “pulling a finger” would just be too risque’ for this forum…..

    Navy Chief, Navy Pride

  6. Gwen Banta

    June 5, 2009 at 4:17 pm

    But oh so appropriate for fragrant Nate-the-odorator…

  7. Karen Highland

    June 5, 2009 at 5:16 pm

    Oh my, what a hoot! I needed that laugh, thanks. I have a story about an agent in my office who must have eaten whatever Nate ate, and unfortunately she was with some buyers when she released her ‘gift’ to the basement of a townhouse. The good news was, the buyers were good friends, but years later the story is retold to anyone who meets her friends. The moral: save the spicy food for after the showing.

  8. Gwen Banta

    June 5, 2009 at 5:21 pm

    Oh my gosh – I have heard from several people today regarding stories of contrails following their offenders through open house events. One of my visitors did that once, then he bailed out the front door leaving his gift inside with me. The next visitors of course thought that I was the dyspetic offender. How do you even bring that up, let alone explain it away???

  9. Joe Loomer

    June 6, 2009 at 8:19 am

    I could write volumes about my aircrew days. I can’t even begin to explain the effects air pressure has on a person’s body when you’re flying in a plane older than you are. Most famous of them all – Mikey B.

    My first ever flight in the Navy was out of now-defunct Hellenikon AFB in Athens, Greece. Show time was 0300 (3 a.m., ladies) for a 0500 go (take off at 5 a.m., 12 hr mission, land at 5 p.m).

    Mikey led me over to the air terminal snack bar – affectionately called “Filthy’s.” As I ordered typical wee hours fare – milk, cereal, cup of coffee – I took a look at Mikey B’s tray. Two hours-old bratwurst covered in chili, saurkraut, and cheese. All lavishly dressed in what appeared to be a half-gallon of hot sauce.

    Needless to say, I got my “Baptism by Fire” later on….

    The EP-3E Aeries aircraft is a four-engine, propeller-driven plane designed for intelligence collection duties. It – like it’s mother the P-3C Orion – is designed for airflow to go from the cockpit, through the cabin, and out through a vent in the rear galley (kitchen).

    But Mikey B is the spawn of Satan. The simple law of postive air flow does not apply to him. By 0900 (9 a.m. ladies), four hours into the mission, the pilots where on oxygen, the rest of us either unconcious or wishing we where. The Aircraft Commander actually gave Mikey B a DIRECT ORDER to stop (his derisive, laughing response somehow did not net him the court martial he so RICHLY deserved).

    I somehow spent another nine years flying – off and on – five of those with Mikey B. I must have killed some olfactory nerve that first flight.

    Navy Chief, Navy Pride

  10. Gwen Banta

    June 6, 2009 at 2:35 pm

    I LOVE your stories, Joe. I should let you know, however, that even we “ladies” know military time. We can be late in twelve or twenty-four timing – it’s a gift. Incidentally, did Mikey B. retire and change his name to Nate? 🙂

  11. Richard

    June 6, 2009 at 6:41 pm


    You should be a writer. Oh wait a second, you ARE! 🙂 I love your writing style. So descriptive and humorous. I bet if you wrote a book it would be a page turner! Keep it up.

    – Richard W. Bailey

  12. Joe Loomer

    June 7, 2009 at 8:34 am

    Funny enough – Mikey B – also known as “Big Mikey” is in a band – the Jeremy Graham Band. He also moonlights as an Arabic linguist in a hush-hush job. I could tell you, but then I’d have to kill you. Or I can just bring Nate, uh, Mikey B over to do it.

    Navy Chief, Navy Pride

  13. Gwen Banta

    June 7, 2009 at 12:24 pm

    Thanks, Richard. I did write a novel or two, but finding an agent for fiction is as difficult as finding a unicorn in a top hat!

  14. Gwen Banta

    June 7, 2009 at 12:32 pm

    I’m a trained assassin, Joe – known as Snuff Daddy by the trembling masses. So warn him before he gets here.

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Business Marketing

Snapchat’s study reveals our growing reliance on video

(BUSINESS MARKETING) Snapchat released a report that shows some useful insights for future video content creation.



Snapchat's video

Snapchat is taking a break from restoring people’s streaks to publish a report on mobile video access; according to Social Media Today, the report holds potentially vital information about how customers use their mobile devices to view content.

And–surprise, surprise–it turns out we’re using our phones to consume a lot more media than we did six years ago.

The obvious takeaways from this study are listed all over the place, and not even necessarily courtesy of Snapchat. People are using their phones substantially more often than they have in the past five years, and with everyone staying home, it’s reasonable to expect more engagement and more overall screen time.

However, there are a couple of insights that stand out from Snapchat’s study.

Firstly, the “Stories” feature that you see just about everywhere now is considered one of the most popular–and, thus, most lucrative–forms of video content. 82 percent of Snapchat users in the study said that they watched at least one Snapchat Story every day, with the majority of stories being under ten minutes.

This is a stark contrast to the 52 percent of those polled who said they watched a TV show each day and the 49 percent who said they consumed some “premium” style of short-form video (e.g., YouTube). You’ll notice that this flies in the face of some schools of thought regarding content creation on larger platforms like YouTube or Instagram.

Equally as important is Snapchat’s “personal” factor, which is the intimate, one-on-one-ish atmosphere cultivated by Snapchat features. Per Snapchat’s report, this is the prime component in helping an engaging video achieve the other two pillars of success: making it relatable and worthy of sharing.

Those three pillars–being personal, relatable, and share-worthy–are the components of any successful “short-form” video, Snapchat says.

Snapchat also reported that of the users polled, the majority claimed Snapchat made them feel more connected to their fellow users than comparable social media sites (e.g., Instagram or Facebook). Perhaps unsurprisingly, the next-closest social media platform vis-a-vis interpersonal connection was TikTok–something for which you can probably see the nexus to Snapchat.

We know phone use is increasing, and we know that distanced forms of social expression were popular even before a pandemic floored the world; however, this report demonstrates a paradigm shift in content creation that you’d have to be nuts not to check out for yourself.

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Business Marketing

Technology is helping small businesses adapt and stay afloat

(BUSINESS MARKETING) Small businesses need to utilize digital platforms to adapt their businesses during COVID-19, or else they may be left behind.



small businesses new tech

While many may not have imagined our present day back in March, and to what extreme we would be doing things “remotely” and via “hands-free contact”, we have to give some credit to small business owners who remain flexible and have pivoted to stay afloat. They deserve major credit on adaptations they have made (and possibly investments) in new technology (ordering online, online payments) especially at a time when their in-person revenues have taken a hit.

There are various marketing buzz words being used lately to say “let’s keep our distance”, including: curbside, to-go, hands-free, no contact, delivery only, order via app, social distancing and #wearamask.

The thing is, if you really think about it, small businesses are always in evolution mode – they have to pay attention to consumer consumption and behaviors that can shift quickly in order to stay relevant and utilize their marketing and advertising budgets wisely. They heavily rely on positive customer reviews and word of mouth recommendations because they may not have the budget for large scale efforts.

For example, we use Lyft or Uber vs calling an individual cab owner; we order on Amazon vs shopping at a local mom-and-pop shop; we download and make playlists of music vs going to a record or music store. Small business owners are constantly fighting to keep up with the big guys and have to take into account how their product/service has relevance, and if it’s easy for people to attain. In current times, they’ve had to place major efforts into contactless experiences that often require utilizing a digital platform.

If stores or restaurants didn’t already have an online ordering platform, they had to implement one. Many may have already had a way to order online but once they were forced to close their dining areas, they had to figure out how to collect payments safely upon pickup; this may have required them to implement a new system. Many restaurants also had to restructure pick up and to-go orders, whether it was adding additional signage or reconfiguring their pick up space to make sure people were able to easily practice social distancing.

According to this article from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, “Studies have shown that 73% of small businesses are not aware of digital resources, such as online payment processing tools, online productivity tools, e-commerce websites, online marketing and other tools, that can help them reach customers around the world. If small businesses had better access to global markets, it could increase the GDP of the United States by $81 billion and add 900,000 new jobs. During the pandemic, this could also mean the difference between thriving and closing for good.”

There are some larger corporate technology companies offering ways to support small businesses whether it’s through small business grants from Google, resources and grants from Facebook or Verizon giving them a break on their telecom bill. The challenge with this may be whether or not small business owners are able to find time from their intense focus on surviving to applying for these grants and managing all that admin time. Many business owners may be focusing on what technology they have and can upgrade, or what they need to implement – most likely while seeing a loss in revenue. So, it can be a tough decision to make new technology investments.

It does seem like many have made incredible strides, and quickly (which is impressive), to still offer their products and services to customers – whether it’s a contactless pay method, free delivery, or even reservations to ensure limited capacity and socially distanced visits. There are still some that just haven’t able to do that yet, and may be looking at other ways to take their business to a wider audience online.

We would encourage, if you can, to support small businesses in your community as often as you can. Understandably there are times that it’s easier to order on Amazon, but if there is a way you can pick up something from a local brewery or family-owned business, this may be the lifeline they need to survive and/or to invest in new technology to help them adapt.

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Business Marketing

There’s a shortage of skilled workers, so get learning

(BUSINESS MARKETING) COVID-19 may end up justifying training funds for lower-class workers to learn new skills. Skilled workers are desperately needed right now.



skilled worker

The COVID-19 pandemic (yes, that one) has ushered in a lot of unexpected changes, one of the which is most surprising: An increased call for skilled workers — a call that, unfortunately, requires a massive retraining of the existing workforce.

According to the New York Times, nearly 50 percent of Americans were working from home by May; this was, reportedly, a 15 percent increase in remote work. The problems with this model are expansive, but one of the greatest issues stems from the lack of training: As employees of lower-class employment transitioned to working online, it became increasingly evident that there was a shortage of skilled workers in this country.

The Times traces this phenomenon back to the Great Recession; Harvard University’s Lawrence Katz points to some parallels and insinuates that this is an opportunity to elevate the lower class rather than regressing, and it seems fair to put the onus of such elevation on lawmakers and senators.

Indeed, Congress has even addressed the issue of skill equality via “bipartisan support” of a $4000 credit for non-skilled workers to use toward skill training. For Congress to come together on something like this is relatively noteworthy, and it’s hard to disagree with the premise that, given the invariable automation wave, many of our “non-skilled” workers will face unemployment without substantial aid.

COVID-19 has accelerated many trends and processes that should have taken years to propagate, and this is clearly one of them.

Supporting laborers in developing skills that help them work within the technology bubble isn’t just a good idea–it’s imperative, both morally and economically speaking. Even middle-class “skilled” workers have had trouble keeping up with the sheer amount of automation and technology-based skillsets required to stay competent; when one considers how lower-class employees will be impacted by this wave, the outcome is too dark to entertain.

It should be noted that non-skilled workers don’t necessarily have to scale up their training in their current fields; the Times references a truck driver who pivoted hard into software development, and while it may be easier for some to focus on their existing areas of expertise, the option to make a career change does exist.

If we take nothing else away from the time we’ve spent in quarantine, we should remember that skilled labor is integral to our success as a society, and we have a moral obligation to help those who missed the opportunity to develop such skills fulfill that need.

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