[photopress:labor.jpg,full,alignright] One of my most memorable transactions here in the Seattle Area was assisting a “homeless woman” with the sale of her house. Seems like a contradiciton in terms, I know. There was a woman who walked the streets wheeling a child’s suitcase behind her who “owned” a gutted, burned out house. She had put a For Sale By Owner type sign on it with a phone number, and a local agent had brought her an offer on it by the time I received a call from her asking for assistance. In fact she was seeking the assistance of another agent in the office, who had already asked for my assistance on handling this when the call came in, and it was pure coincidence that I happened to answer the phone when she called.
I cannot go into any more detail because this was a very unique transaction, to say the least. Besides throwing legal papers in sealed envelopes over a chain link fence onto the porch, which at times was my only means of conveying information, there were several meetings in the hot sun on the front steps with those big black carpenter ants crawling all over me. Since the ants crawling on her did not make her flinch, I persevered and mirrored her behavior…no small feat.
Point is, the “fruit of my labor” was my effort, and not “the satisfaction of my ‘client’.” In the end the woman was very unhappy to find that the proceeds belonged to all of the heirs, even though I had told her that at the onset. In the end the woman was very unhappy that an attorney needed to be involved in the distribution of the net proceeds. I charged a nominal fee, and in fact offered to handle it for free initially, but she would take no charity and griped about the nominal fee, both at the same time, which made not much sense. But then not much in this transaction made much sense.
Someone recently asked here what my highest achievements have been. I’d clearly have to put “selling the house of a homeless woman” on that list. I don’t know what she is doing now, but I am hoping she is doing what she said she would do, take the money and buy a little place in Virginia near her son, who was being raised by a relative and going to college there. I picture her there, being cared for by her son and relatives in a little house by a creek with a weeping willow tree. Clearly she was one of my most unhappy clients…and yet somehow, at the same time, one of my “highest achievements”.
Be proud of the fruits of your labor…be proud of your efforts to achieve those fruits, on this Labor Day 2006.