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Sunday, December 2, 2012

Not Throwing in the Towel

The truth is this should be a positive post.  I am a mere 48 hours removed from a juvenile and wondrous birthday celebration that saw about 20 friends join me in Brooklyn to watch Men Without Hats.  We bowled, we ate, we drank, we Safety Danced, and we laughed. Boy did we laugh.

But that now seems so long ago.  Funny how life has a way of knocking you right back on your ass, isn't it?

I could also mention being a mere 7 hours removed from watching my lovely daughter give everything she had on the basketball floor in a hard fought 26-20 win over our neighboring rival.  She is the smallest on court but has the biggest heart.  It was all I could do to hold back tears as she left it all on the floor.  A prouder father you will be hard pressed to find.

Right now, it is hard to remember the finer details.

Because now I am alone in a home I desperately want to sell.

Everyone knows about Hurricane Sandy and the torment it caused New Jersey and much of the East Coast.  While our house was not directly affected, a problem was uncovered.   But that is jumping ahead a bit.

It is important to know, after 8 years in this home, we were looking to move up a bit.  It was time to sell and further pursue the "American Dream."  Our house has its charms, but we would like a little more land, another bathroom and a nice play room/lounge that can act as a gathering place for our daughter and her friends as she enters adolescence.

Easy, right?  We are in a great town.  We work pretty hard and make a decent living (note: the Mrs does the heavy lifting and deserves far more than she has put up with over the past several years.)  If she wants a pool, she should be able to get a pool.

Well, our first open house was scheduled for the day Sandy hit land.  As soon as the sign went up I was putting it in the garage so it did not blow away.

A few days after that an October snow storm wreaked havoc on the area, postponing Halloween (and our first scheduled brokers open.)

Like many things that have followed us on our move to NJ, the timing was off.  Black outs/Recessions/9.11/Wars have defined the past decade.  As there is no family money and not much of a middle class in town we find ourselves in limbo.

Do we belong here?  Do we fit in?  Is the sacrifice we make for our daughter worth it?  Do the benefits outweigh the disadvantages?

Oh, throw in some outright disrespectful/abhorrent/ behavior by yours truly a few years back while you are keeping score.  The hard working Mrs mentioned earlier has a healthy distaste for this humble protagonist and I can't say as I blame her.  That said, sometimes it takes a giant misstep to awake one to what is really important.  Sometimes the truth is right in front of you begging to be noticed.  If you take the time to get your head out of your ass it can be quite enlightening.

But anyway... back to this friggin house.  So after the initial storm and general malaise that was our home sale it occurred to us that we had water in our basement.  Now, we had some water during Sandy, but we thought it was because the sump pump failed.  Why were we getting water when the rains had stopped?

A call to our plumber yielded terrible news.  Years ago, one of the homeowners decided to install a clay pipe within the basement walls and tie it into our main sewer line.  "Common practice" we were told.  And illegal and/or not in code it turns it.  Once the clay falls apart (as it did) and the main becomes clogged (as it has) the result is some raw sewage unearthed and unleashed in a visible area.

Can you name me a homeowner who wants to see/smell something like that?

We put a band aid on it and called in the insurance folks.  "It should hold for a while" we were told, but it needed to be fixed.  Should we be culpable of adding a new sump pump when we had no idea this condition existed?

The adjuster came about a week ago and we were hopeful we could remedy the whole thing before we went into contract with someone.  Clearly we could not sell in the condition it is in.

After the poor start the traffic had picked up a bit.  We had become quite adept at cleaning the house in record time when a broker called asking to set up a visit.  Yesterday afternoon we received such a call.  We stayed out for a good half hour.  Since we own a dog we like to get him out of the house.  As we walked back we noticed the agent and a young woman heading to the car.  They realized we were the homeowners and made sure to mention how charming the place was, and how impressed they were.

We were encouraged.  Imagine then our encouragement when the same broker called today and said the woman was on board and wanted to show it to her husband today.

"Great" we said!  "This is it!!"

We took this as beyond positive and made an appointment to see another house in town.  We had  a contract on another house in town, but naturally that fell through.  We may sell this thing and have nowhere to live.  That is another story altogether.

Imagine our surprise when our broker called saying he had a "very disturbing message" from the other agent.

"Yeah, turns out they will not be making an offer" he said.  "Apparently when they were there your basement was taking water and the sump pump was pouring water into your yard."

"Huh?" was my response.  But I headed downstairs to see how the basement looked.  We had been home a lot during the day and used water without issue.

As I made my way down the steps a small amount of water was visible.  I moved closer to the furnace/boiler area and it was more wet.  Then I went to the source.  And there it was.  The same shit storm that caused such a headache weeks ago was alive and well.  Raw sewage on their second showing.  Brilliant.

Deal breaker?  You better freaking believe it.

Had they come at 3:30 they might not have seen it?  Had they come tomorrow, or next weekend it might have been fixed forever?

Nope.  Back to the beginning.  Back to the Hurricane.  Back to calling plumbers, and adjusters, and psychologists on off hours.  Back to wondering why owning a home is so important.  Back to my wife wandering if she made the right decision staying with me.  Or trusting me.  Back to her thinking she has to fight for everything and get little in return.

Daughter and child driving off in the rain was not the Sunday I had asked for on an otherwise epic and joyous weekend.

This is not a fate I gleefully accept.  This is not the outcome determined for me, for us.  We are good people who can make an impact, make a difference, persevere.

If you think a pile of shit sending would be buyers running away is going to knock me down you got another thing coming.

I have been dealing with piles of shit my whole life.  Tomorrow I wake up alone, but chasing the smell and taste of success.

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