Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Walter's Wrinkles

At our meeting this morning, Walter was recognized as one of the top ten agents in my office during October. While his walls are lined with awards, a less conspicuous award caught my eye - the “Happy Customers” binder sitting on a shelf. After we have a closing, our buyers are sent a survey asking for feedback about the service they received. Walter’s binder was bulging with happy customer comments and several sheets were waiting to be hole-punched and inserted in the rings.

Walter excels at sales. Before he received his real estate license in 1996, he was a car salesman at Beaman Automotive. In 1992, he sold more cars than anyone so he and his wife were given a seven-day cruise in the Caribbean. People were surprised when they took their two-year old daughter along with them, but they had fun vacation with her.

Walter talks fondly about his daughter, a senior at Smyrna High School. Once when she was in the second grade, she tried to spell the word “bird.” She got stuck at the “i” and no matter how Walter hinted around (he didn’t want to just tell her the answer), she could not figure out how to spell bird. He doesn’t think she’s scarred from the experience, but she definitely remembers it from the days when she was shy and sensitive. Now, she’s grown into an outgoing, quick-witted young adult who is making her father very proud.

Walter is also proud of his son who is 15-years old and ready to drive! His interests have ranged from music and race cars (the remote operated kind) to motorcycles and sports. Walter tries to encourage his son to nail down his hobbies to something specific, but instead he emulates his father who also bounced around from project to project as a youngster.

Helping people rates high on Walter’s list of things he likes to do, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t enjoy a good beer or relaxing in front of the television. One year, the American Heart Association asked Walter to try to raise $1,000. He agreed to participate in one of the pretend “arrest, go to jail, and make bond” gimmicks. He found enough friends to raise the money and earned a DVD player for his effort.

Despite his sunny disposition, Walter is facing a difficult time right now. He and his wife of 19 years are going through a divorce. The children are old enough that they can visit their father at anytime, so Walter doesn’t mind that his wife has custody. It is probably a relief that his children are older as they watch their parents separate their lives because Walter’s parents divorced when he was five. He recalls that his own father was very strict – there was no gray area when he was growing up. When Walter brought a bad grade home from school, his father made him bring every book home every single night until the next report card. Like Walter, I remember those were the days before we had backpacks, so it was just as insane as he describes! You either did as you were instructed or you got a “whipping.” Walter says kids today just want to discuss their options and negotiate.

As I chatted with Walter, he explained his wheezing was because he has only one functioning lung. In 1993, his doctor found that his right lung had crystallized and hardened due to a calcified lymph node. His vocal chords are normal, but he does get short of breathe on occasion. According to his doctor, there is nothing else that can be done. But Walter blames his age and being out of shape as part of the problem and has started working out to try to improve his health. If he embraces healthy living like he does great sales techniques, he’ll probably live to be 100.


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