Friday, May 01, 2015

Adventures in Real Estate
So far this week I missed my lesson with Roberto because I came home from visiting some more disgusting holes in the wall and decided to drown my pain in social media and pirated videos of American television shows. In the end I got obsessed with looking for an identical stuffed frog to the one lost by a high school friend's daughter in Oakland. As I glanced through 85 pages of stuffed frog pictures on ebay, I got a phone call from work. Where the cavolo was I? Oops. And I never found a match for the frog.

Sorry again, Roberto.
I was really disappointed when the apartment that my downstairs neighbor recommended that I go see, ostensibly because she didn't want it, turned out to have windows that were good quality glass with gaping holes all around the frames, cracks in all the walls, and filled with really ugly orange, saggy couches -- just sad. The agent was this guy Pablo who used to live next door and is friends with the owner. He lost my trust.

Imagine the hands opening and this house with the dreams of a family in it crashing to the ground . .

The next day I went out with Claudia who I asked to take me to an apartment just outside the walls. First she took me to a bunch of disgusting places, as all real estate agents tend to do according to the build-an-expectation technique, saving the best for last.  It's like build-a-bear but instead of making something to help you sleep at night, you make something to help you not sleep at night and it costs are equally inflated for an experience that is not what it is hyped up to be. I asked Claudia if she could take me to see the apartment in the zone called Borgo Giannotti on Wednesday the day before I was supposed to see it with Pablo. Both agents had told me to meet them at a bar that is right there called Barometro.

Anyway, she told me that she knew Pablo and that she had seen him coming out of this saved the best for last apartment and she was sure it was the same one. In the end, the apartment was a huge disappointment because there was a giant construction site, a type of Italian ruin, behind it where they had just started drilling to build a shopping center.

After a long day of breathing in the floaty white seeds of the poplar plants, my allergen of choice, I texted Pablo that we could skip that apartment. He took me to an apartment on the outskirts of town that is sealed up so tight that you have to enter codes to get in and out. The windows are so super thick that the whole apartment is filled with mold because any moisture gets trapped inside. Unfortunately, the second bedroom was the size of a closet and I feared T would be miserable there. It was quiet and all the kitchen stuff and the air conditioning was brand new, though. Anyway, after Pablo told me that he had been up all night with his little daughter who has strep, he told me that it turned out that Claudia had misled me and that his apartment in Borgo GIannotti was a totally different one. I asked him if he could take me to see it. He hestitated. By the time he was available to take me, it was already signed to someone else.
This is the image you get if you search real estate agents in Tuscany. I think it says it all.

I don't know if it was a sense of guilt or what, but later he texted me to ask me if we could pay a crazy amount of money for a beautiful apartment. I told him a number about four hundred euros less than the asking price and he said he would still take me to see it. I imagine that it is negotiable because sometimes the owners start with a very high number. We went to the very quiet part of the city where the apartment is located and chatted with a nun outside the church across the street from it. Pablo never showed up. His associate called to say that his mother had been in a car accident. She is okay, though. I got home and looked up the photos and it is a good apartment, although it is the maximum we can afford or barely afford or not really afford but might say yes to anyway. There is no risk of a bar opening there and it is right next to a park.

We have some sweet friends who are meanwhile frantically making calls for us. In particular, dear Gabriella is morally opposed to real estate agents and is on a mission to help us find a place without having to pay one of those door openers as she calls them, a fee. I feel like Pablo has a good heart, though.  I am sure that there are honorable, decent real estate agents in other parts of the world that are well off and work for rich people, but with the Italian financial crisis it is a pretty brutal District 13 from Hunger Games type of situation . . .  which also makes me think of this:

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