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Lions & Tigers & Bears, Oh My!

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bear2Recently I have heard some hilarious tales of wild animal capers at open house events. Many of these anecdotes come from my agent friends in Lake Arrowhead. And you thought YOU had problems…

Easy Rider

I’m told there are bear travel routes at Lake Arrowhead. I’m not sure if there are biker bars for the critters to hang out and knock back brewskis, but the routes are detours created by the animals themselves as they cruise around the mountains. As a result, there are many bear sightings in the area.

An agent I know was with a client when they parked at the cabin she had just listed. As they approached the porch, they glanced at the pickup truck parked in the driveway and were delighted to see a baby bear asleep in the flatbed.

They observed the little guy for a short time, ooh-ing and ah-ing and discussing whom to call. Duh. Suddenly the answer came to them…in the form of a shadow the size of the Statue of Liberty. Paralyzed with fear, they tried not to move a muscle. Finally, when the words “main course” permeated their individual skulls, they turned on cue and walked slo-o-o-ly to the front porch. They managed to get inside without losing any limbs, but not before the frantic client had wet her pants. After the bears eventually left, the hapless women departed. The agent was shaking uncontrollably, and the client had to sit on a towel all the way home.

(Moral of the story: Ya’ know how you just want to pick up a little bear and cuddle it? Well Mama Bear wants to cuddle you, too…and then crack your head open, rip out your eyeballs with claws the size of hedge clippers, and then suck the meat off your skinny little flailing legs…accompanied by a fine Pinot Noir of course. So avoid even baby bears, fool!)

Bears Need To Relax, Too

One agent had seen bears in the area of his listing and had dutifully informed his clients. While preparing for Brokers Open, he set a bag of dog food on the back porch in his efforts to tidy the kitchen. Halfway through caravan, there was pandemonium in the back forty. When he and several agents ran outside to investigate the chaos, they saw the dog food scattered everywhere.

As the agent stooped to retrieve the bag, he looked across the yard. To his shock, a brown bear was splashing lazily in the spa right under the hand-crafted “Don’t Piss In Pool ” sign. The group high-tailed it inside, barricaded the doors, and armed themselves with whatever they could grab. The agent had to scream out the window at any latecomers, warning them to get outta Dodge, while everyone already there remained holed up in the house until animal control arrived.

When Animal Control finally burst in, they admonished the agent for a lapse in judgement, but only after they had a good laugh. It seems that one guy was brandishing a fireplace poker as a weapon, and the listing agent was armed with a lovely umbrella.  The agent was very embarrassed, but the worst insult was the floater left in the spa by the annoyed bear.

(Moral of the story: If you are on a bear route, never place Dog Food outside unless the bears on your route are Harvard grads and can read the words “Dog Food,”  and “Don’t Piss in Pool.” Less educated bears may think the sign says “After enjoying the bear bidet…please help yourself to the squealing agents huddled inside and screaming like girly-men.”)

Let’s Not Forget the Raccoons

This story was enough to make me stop serving food outside. An agent had set up a lovely luncheon at a house near the lake. Out of nowhere, there was a blur of action on the hillside. A raccoon scampered down the hill, a barking dog with a beer belly close at it’s heals. The raccoon ran around the trash bins and then took shelter in a tight space behind the pool equipment. The determined dog apparently had gone to a Tony Robbins seminar and did not know the meaning of giving up. He did everything possible to get the raccoon to expose himself (so to speak). However, the wily raccoon, while less educated, had street smarts and was waiting for his posse to show up and ice the dog.

Enter the agent. Upset by the ear-splitting chaos, the agent grabbed a utensil and a metal dish and created a cacophony of noise, hoping to scare off the intruders. It worked. Sort of. The raccoon screeched, tore out of his hiding place, and for a split second in time, he stared down the source of the mind-numbing noise. Finally he headed for elevation…the luncheon table being the nearest high spot. The portly dog was too fat to jump onto the table, so he tried to claw his way up the table cloth. The agent, frantically banging her bowl, watched helplessly as inch by inch the entire spread headed south in slow motion. The food explosion was followed immediately by the sound of the table collapsing. The last she saw of the quiche-covered dog or the crazed raccoon was a departing blur back up the hillside. She gave up and threw the bowl in disgust before collapsing in tears.

(Moral to the Story: If you’re going to Bang a Gong, know your audience, Wang Chung!)

And This One is For The Birds

Picture a lovely summer day in California. French doors were open wide, flowers were in bloom, and the agent was preparing for the first Public Open House. Suddenly a Blue Jay flew into the living room and became disoriented. Confused and frazzled, the feathered intruder attempted to fly out via the skylights.  After being thwarted in its numerous attempts to escape, the bird landed on a beam to rest. The agent, also confused and frazzled, decided to deal with the party crasher after the open house was over.

Enter the public. As the agent showed the house and gave her pitch, a menacing kid turned on a screeching musical toy that set off  the downfall of society. The bird, already confused and excited, began to circle overhead frantically seeking an exit. As the voices of the startled group melded into a chorus of screams, the bird responded back in kind…by crapping all over the well-appointed living room. The more the visitors screamed, the more the bird emptied the contents of his well-stocked bowels. By the time the agent managed to herd everyone out, the seller’s furniture was upholstered in cottage cheese. The bird remained for several hours more, no doubt taking photos and texting his friends.

(Moral of the Story: If a bird crashes your party, call the wily raccoon to chase the feathered interloper outside. Then call the dog in as an enforcer to offer the raccoon a deal he can’t refuse. Then hire the bear to scare the beejeesus out of the wiseguy dog. Then call animal control to drag the bear away after he uses your spa as a bidet, but before he gets out his dining utensils and slaps you onto a plate. After that, call all the agents who called you “fool” and invite them to a party in the spa…and leave the floater.)

And a Short One For the Road

Did you hear about the German Shepherd who knocked down the agent’s tent sign and relieved himself all over it as the caravan was arriving? I actually witnessed the performance…and the  two curtain calls.

(Moral of the Story: It seems everyone is a critic. Go do the same thing in his bowl – that will teach him to be a bit less judgmental next time.)

Thank you, Lake Arrowhead!

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, LAhomesite.com, SherlockOfHomes, IMDB or you can shoot arrows at my head via email. I can take it.

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15 Comments

15 Comments

  1. Lani Rosales

    May 22, 2009 at 9:14 am

    OMG I didn’t even know LA had bears much less so many PEEING bears! LOL awesome. Gwen, you are always the humorous cherry on top of my day 🙂

  2. Austin Smith - Goomzee.com

    May 22, 2009 at 11:28 am

    Hahaha…Sensitivity to the Needs of Wildlife = FAIL.

    Nice work Gwen.

  3. Gwen Banta

    May 22, 2009 at 1:15 pm

    And you thought all the wildlife was roaming the Sunset Strip! Come out and see out mountains, Lani – I’ll be waiting for you. Thabnks so much, and have a great Memorial day.

  4. Gwen Banta

    May 22, 2009 at 1:21 pm

    Thanks, Austin. We have pushed the animals out of their natural habitats, but they are resisting…and rightfully so. I was driving in Laurel Canyon yesterday when I spotted a coyote walking down the sidewalk in broad daylight. I was so busy looking at the scrawny critter that I almost didn’t see a snake crossing the road! The snake had to be at least 4 feet long. It was like a wildlife preserve. I’m heading for the mountains now, so who knows what I’ll see there. The bears are hungry these days…

  5. Paula Henry

    May 22, 2009 at 6:42 pm

    Gwen – When we moved last year, i was looking at homes in Eagle Creek, a wooded lot, nature, you know, the whole natural serenity, love to come home to dream. I drove through several neighborhoods and looked at quite a few homes.

    It’s almost enchanting to see deer in the front yard and just as disconcerting to see raccoons climbing the trees. I chose a little more “city” I still have a lovely wooded lot and see a few deers, but I can live without the raccoons climbing my trees. Stories like this remind me why.

  6. Susie Blackmon

    May 23, 2009 at 6:20 pm

    I’m glad Lani called this post to my attention. Enjoyable read, but also sad to think of what has happened to the habitats of so many animals. Have a great weekend.

  7. Gwen Banta

    May 25, 2009 at 11:12 pm

    I’m like you, Paula – I LOVE the deer…but the raccoons and bears are a bit too ominous for me to enjoy with my Sunday coffee…

  8. Gwen Banta

    May 25, 2009 at 11:14 pm

    Thank you, Susie (and thank you, Lani!). Yes, I am sad everytime I see a scrawny coyote out looking for some dinner. They seem so thin and sad…

  9. Gwen Banta

    May 25, 2009 at 11:19 pm

    Betty, thank you so much for sharing my stories up there in your incredibly beautiful Oregon territory. I hope they brought out a few smiles…and maybe even a few loud laughs at the folly of some of us humans!

  10. Betty jung

    May 26, 2009 at 3:05 am

    Thanks for the post. I know I laughed when I read your words!

  11. Joe Loomer

    May 29, 2009 at 6:56 am

    So I meet George the Home Inspector at this house. My Buyer’s a military dude who couldn’t stay in town for the inspection, so I’m there solo. George notes some damage, some staining, and a funny smell from the louvres at the apex of the roofline. Not much else to report about the exterior.

    We move inside, and George heads to the attic via the pull-down stairs. Then George head-firsts down the attic stairs. Seems bats decided they liked the quiet, warm, dark climate. Now the exterior damage (and that funny smell) make a little more sense.

    Guano know the rest of the story?

    Navy Chief, Navy Pride

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Business Marketing

Ghost Reply has us asking: Should you shame a recruiter who ghosted you?

(BUSINESS MARKETING) Ghost Reply will send an anonymous “kind reminder” to recruiters who ghost job candidates, but is the sweet taste of temporary catharsis worth it?

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Stressed woman at a laptop with hands on head, considering if she should send a Ghost Reply.

People hate to get “ghosted” in any situation, personal or professional. But for job seekers who may already be struggling with self-esteem, it can be particularly devastating. Ghost Reply is a new online service that will help you compose and send an email nudge to the ghoster, sending a “kind reminder” telling them how unprofessional it is to leave someone hanging like that.

Ghost Reply wants to help you reach catharsis in all of this stressful mess of finding a job. Almost all of the problems and feelings are compounded by this confounded pandemic that has decimated areas of the workforce and taken jobs and threatened people’s financial security. It is understandable to want to lash out at those in power, and sending a Ghost Reply email to the recruiter or HR person may make you feel better in the short term.

In the long run, though, will it solve anything? Ghost Reply suggests it may make the HR person or recruiter reevaluate their hiring processes, indicating this type of email may help them see the error of their ways and start replying to all potential candidates. If it helps them reassess and be more considerate in the future and helps you find closure in the application/interview process, that would be the ideal outcome on all fronts. It is not likely this will happen, though.

The Ghost Reply sample email has the subject line “You have a message from a candidate!” Then it begins, “Hi, (name), You’re receiving this email because a past candidate feels like you ghosted them unfairly.” It then has a space for said candidate to add on any personal notes regarding the recruiter or process while remaining anonymous.

I get it. It’s upsetting to have someone disappear after you’ve spent time and energy applying, possibly even interviewing, only to hear nothing but crickets back from the recruiter or HR person you interacted with. It’s happened to me more than once, and it’s no bueno. We all want to be seen. We all want to be valued. Ghosting is hurtful. The frustration and disappointment, even anger, that you feel is certainly relatable. According to several sources, being ghosted after applying for a job is one of the top complaints from job seekers on the market today.

Will an anonymous, passive-aggressive email achieve your end? Will the chastened company representative suddenly have a lightbulb go off over their heads, creating a wave of change in company policy? I don’t see it. The first sentence of the sample email, in fact, is not going to be well received by HR.

When you start talking about what’s “unfair,” most HR people will tune out immediately. That kind of language in itself is unprofessional and is a red flag to many people. Once you work at a company and know its culture and have built relationships, then, maybe, just maybe, can you start talking about your work-related feelings. I believe in talking about our feelings, but rarely is a work scenario the best place to do so (I speak from experience). Calling it unprofessional is better, less about you and more about the other person’s behavior.

However, it’s unclear how productive Ghost Reply actually is. Or how anonymous, frankly. By process of deduction, the recipient of the email may be able to figure out who sent it, if it even makes it through the company’s spam filters. Even if they cannot pinpoint the exact person, it may cast doubts on several applicants or leave a bad taste in the recruiter’s mouth. It sounds like sour grapes, which is never a good thing.

There may be any number of reasons you didn’t get the job offer or interview, and they may or may not have something to do with you. Recruiters answer your burning questions, including why you may have been ghosted in this recent article in The American Genius.

Ultimately, you will never know why they ghosted you. If it makes you feel better or at least see the issue from both sides, the amount of job candidates ghosting recruiters after applying and even interviewing is equally high. Some people simply either have awful time management skills or awful manners, and at the end of the day, there’s not much you can do about that.

Focus on your own survival while job hunting, instead of these disappointing moments or the person who ghosts you. It will serve you better in the long run than some anonymous revenge email. There are other ways to deal with your frustration and anger when you do get ghosted, though. Try the classic punching your pillow. Try taking a walk around the block. If it helps to put your frustration into words, and it very well may, then do so. Write it on a piece of paper, then burn it. Or type it all in an email and delete it. For your own sake, do NOT put their email address in the “To” line, lest you accidentally hit “Send.”

The sooner you can let it go, the sooner you can move on to finding a better job fit for you.

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Business Marketing

Free shipping is everywhere… how can small businesses keep up?

[BUSINESS MARKETING] Would you rather pay less but still pay for shipping, or pay more with free shipping? They may cost the same, but one appeals more than the other.

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Person standing over pacakge, sealing with masking tape.

When it comes to competing with huge corporations like Amazon, there are plenty of hurdles that smaller businesses have to cross. Corporations can (and do) undercut the competition, not to mention garner a much larger marketing reach than most small businesses could ever dream of achieving. But this time, we want to focus on something that most people have probably chosen recently: Free shipping.

How important is free shipping to consumers? Well, in a 2018 survey, Internet Retailer discovered that over 50% of respondents said that free shipping was the most important part of online shopping. In fact, when given a choice between fast or costless shipping, a whopping 88% of those surveyed chose the latter option.

Part of this has to do with the fact that shipping costs are often perceived as additional fees, not unlike taxes or a processing fee. In fact, according to Ravi Dhar, director of Yale’s Center for Customer Insights, if it’s between a discounted item with a shipping fee or a marked up item with free shipping, individuals are more likely to choose the latter – even if both options cost exactly the same amount.

If you’re interested in learning more, Dhar refers to the economic principle of “pain of paying,” but the short answer is simply that humans are weird.

So, how do you recapture the business of an audience that’s obsessed with free shipping?

The knee jerk reaction is to simply provide better products that the competition. And sure, that works… to some extent. Unfortunately, in a world where algorithms can have a large effect on business, making quality products might not always cut it. For instance, Etsy recently implemented a change in algorithm to prioritize sellers that offer free shipping.

Another solution is to eat the costs and offer free shipping, but unless that creates a massive increase in products sold, you’re going to end up with lower profits. This might work if it’s between lower profits and none, but it’s certainly not ideal. That’s why many sellers have started to include shipping prices in the product’s overall price – instead of a $20 necklace with $5 shipping, a seller would offer a $25 necklace with free shipping.

This is a tactic that the big businesses use and it works. If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em, right?

That said, not everyone can join in. Maybe, for instance, a product is too big to reasonably merge shipping and product prices. If, for whatever reason, you can’t join in, it’s also worth finding a niche audience and pushing a marketing campaign. What do you offer that might be more attractive than the alluring free shipping? Are you eco-friendly? Do you provide handmade goods? Whatever it is that makes your business special, capitalize on it.

Finally, if you’re feeling down about the free shipping predicament, remember that corporations have access to other tricks. Amazon’s “free” prime shipping comes at an annual cost. Wal-Mart can take a hit when item pricing doesn’t work out. Even if your business isn’t doing as well as you hoped, take heart: You’re facing giants.

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Business Marketing

How many hours of the work week are actually efficient?

(BUSINESS MARKETING) Working more for that paycheck, more hours each week, on the weekends, on holidays can actually hurt productivity. So don’t do that, stay efficient.

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Clock pointed to 5:50 on a plain white wall, well tracked during the week.

Social media is always flooded with promises to get in shape, eat healthier and… hustle?

In hustle culture, it seems as though there’s no such thing as too much work. Nights, weekends and holidays are really just more time to be pushing towards your dreams and hobbies are just side hustles waiting to be monetized. Plus, with freelancing on the rise, there really is nothing stopping someone from making the most out of their 24 hours.

Hustle culture will have you believe that a full-time job isn’t enough. Is that true?

Although it’s a bit outdated, Gallup’s 2014 report on full-time US workers gives us an alarming glimpse into the effects of the hustle. For starters, 50% of full-time workers reported working over 40 hours a week – in fact, the average weekly hours for salaried employees was up to 49 hours.

So, what’s the deal with 40 hours anyway? The 40 hour work-week actually started with labor rights activists in the 1800s pushing for an 8 hour workday. In 1817, Robert Owen, a Welsh activist, reasoned this workday provided: “eight hours labor, eight hours recreation, eight hours rest.”

If you do the math, that’s a whopping 66% of the day devoted to personal needs, rather than labor!

Of course, it’s only natural to be skeptical of logic from two centuries ago coloring the way we do business in the 21st century. For starters, there’s plenty of labor to be done outside of the labor you’re paid to do. Meal prep, house cleaning, child care… that’s all work that needs to be done. It’s also all work that some of your favorite influencers are paying to get done while they pursue the “hustle.” For the average human, that would all be additional work to fall in the ‘recreation’ category.

But I digress. Is 40 hours a week really enough in the modern age? After all, average hours in the United States have increased.

Well… probably not. In fact, when hours are reduced (France, for instance, limited maximum hours to 35 hours a week, instead of 40), workers are not only more likely to be healthier and happier, but more efficient and less likely to miss work!

So, instead of following through with the goal to work more this year, maybe consider slowing the hustle. It might actually be more effective in the long run!

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