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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

Is Easy Advocacy the tool your business needs for ad campaign reach?

(BUSINESS MARKETING) Product claims to make employee advocacy easier than ever with a tool that’s designed to enlist employees to share campaign content online.



easy advocacy welcome page

Ever wished you could get all of your employees in on your campaigns, enlisting them all to help make your digital content go “viral”?

No? To be honest, me either – at least not until I learned about a new program called Easy Advocacy, created by a company called Agora Pulse.

Easy Advocacy is a productivity and marketing tool geared towards harnessing the power of larger internal groups (employees) in order to make content sharing (campaigns, social media posts, etc.) as easy as possible. The product is listed on Product Hunt, which is essentially a tech geek’s paradise for new and interesting technology. This week, on February 19th, Easy Advocacy was listed as the #1 product of the day.

The website boasts features like:

• Quick campaign setups
• Making content easier to share
• Knowing the reach of your shares

In addition to making it easier for employers to have their employees share content, the platform also offers basic analytics pertaining to things like number of shares and website visits. Employers can also identify their top advocates through a leaderboard.

Their website’s description of the toolset says that the tool “dispels the hassle of the usual employee advocacy complaints and makes the process of sharing content with employees, who then share on their social channels, easy peasy.”
One way it does this is by emailing your employees the exact instructions and copy the company would like them to share, making it somewhat automated.

Now, while this all seems great, my biggest concern is who their market truly is. Are they going after small teams? Probably not as having a team of only 5 people sharing a campaign would be nearly fruitless – unless you happen to have a major social media influencer under your employment.

If they go after larger companies, like Apple, for example, I can see this tool being helpful. However, it’s a little bit of a double-edged sword. Larger companies typically are beyond the point of needing word-of-mouth campaigns. Let’s use Apple as an example here, too. They’ve been around for years, and according to Statista, 45.3% of smart phone owners in the U.S. go with Apple iPhones. Given this, and the fact that everyone already knows what an iPhone is (unless you live under a rock…), I really can’t see much need for a tool like Easy Advocacy for such a large company.

So, where does that leave the company? Only time will tell. My first bit of advice to the company is that the name definitely needs work. The name “Easy Advocacy” implies that there’s some kind of advocacy happening for employees, when in reality, this platform is meant to help employers. But given my points above, I think they need to think about their model some more and maybe make this tool something that’s more robust that companies of all sizes can use.

Full disclosure, this does not mean it’s not worth trying out. Give it a shot and let us know what you think.

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Business Marketing

The Body Shop’s new policy is first come, first employed

(BUSINESS MARKETING) An issue that has been on a lot of peoples minds recently is fair hiring standards, be from sex, race, or age discrimination to former prisoners.



The body shop hires prisoners

Anyone who has tried to get a job in the last decade can tell you that hiring is getting near dystopian. Everyone has heard jokes about needing 5 years of experience for an entry level job or the combined skillset of 3 positions to get one job. Things have gotten to the point where even some large companies are wondering if maybe hiring (and getting hired) shouldn’t be so complicated?

The Body Shop is making a radical change in the way they hire their retail employees this summer. They will be hiring on a first-come first-serve basis. Employees must meet three criteria to apply, but beyond that it’s open season – or “open hiring” as they are calling it.

1. Must be authorized to work in the U.S.
2. Can lift over 50lbs
3. Can stand for 8 hours

The company will not be performing drug tests or background checks for this “open hiring” round. The goal is to remove some of the barriers to entry for people seeking employment. This move will be hugely beneficial to the formerly incarcerated and people who have minor offenses on their record.

The Body Shop’s U.S. GM, Andrea Blieden, said, “When you give people access to something that they’re struggling to find, they’re very committed to working hard and keeping it.”

This isn’t the first time The Body Shop has tested out this hiring strategy. In December 2019, the company ran a pilot program at their distribution center. According to them, their employee turnover rate dropped from 43% to 16% and productivity improved.

This change could be equally beneficial to both employers and employees. According to, formerly incarcerated people are unemployed at a rate of 27%. To put that in perspective, that is higher than the overall national average during the Great Depression.

When established brands make big moves, people pay attention. If they continue to report success, The Body Shop’s hiring practices could be used as a case study for other businesses looking to shake up their hiring process. Perhaps in a few years, this type of hiring could become more common place among retailers.

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Business Marketing

Stay ahead by decluttering your Instagram accounts with this new feature

(BUSINESS MARKETING) Get a head start on your spring cleaning with Instagram’s newest feature. It may become your favorite way to views others accounts.



instagram accounts

In a plot twist you weren’t expecting this week, Instagram is looking to make your life a little easier. Their newest app update includes a feature that groups accounts you follow into curated lists such as most and least interacted with or earliest followed to latest.

If you’ve ever looked at the number of people you follow on Instagram and wondered, “who the heck are these people?” then this update will make your heart sing. Instagram has been around for 10 years now, so it’s understandable that some of our follower lists have gotten a little out of control. Your friends and interests shift over time and it can be difficult to find time to actively curate your social media accounts.

Working with this new feature is simple. To access it just head on over to your Instagram profile and click “Following.” You should see a couple of categories above the list of accounts you follow. As an added bonus, you can also change the sort feature on your follower list. It can be set to show oldest accounts followed first or latest accounts firsts.

instagram accounts

For entrepreneurs and freelancers who don’t have the luxury of a full social media team (or any team at all) small features like this can be a game changer. If this feature sparks you to finally clean up your Instagram, here are a few questions to ask yourself when you’re trying to decide who to keep and who to unfollow.

Why did you originally follow this account?

Does this account still serve your business interests?

What was your main purpose behind following this account? As a business owner you might follow an account on Instagram for any number of strategic reasons. Perhaps this account is a fellow business owner in your area, but they’ve since closed their doors. Chances are you’ll find more than one of these cases in your least interacted with group.

Were you looking for business advice or inspiration? When you’re just starting out with your business, you might have followed a few accounts that aimed to give advice to new business owners. Well, if you’ve been doing this for a few years, you probably already know the basic advice these types of accounts are pushing. It’s time to move on.

Do you know this account IRL? Maybe your business has moved locations or changed niche in the last few years. You might have made some great connections with fellow business owners back in the day, but you may no longer run in the same circles. If you know the person who runs the account IRL and you still want to stay connected there are two options. You can either go follow them on your personal account or you can continue following, but mute the account so it doesn’t clog up your Instagram feed.

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