Mondays with Mike: Dirty jobs

July 31, 2017 • Posted in Mike Knezovich, Mondays with Mike by

We like to look at other peoples’ jobs as easy. If they don’t meet our standards? They’re lazy or incompetent. Sure, we bow to brain surgeons, airline pilots, elite athletes and the like. But waiters, bartenders, construction workers who have the nerve to be taking a break—we freely disparage them when they fall short. We’re a bunch of Yelpers.

I’ve come to realize that everybody’s job is actually harder than it looks. I had a discussion with a bartender a few days ago and after trading stories, we agreed: The United States should adopt a military draft with a national service option. Don’t want to go into the military? Then national service, with an emphasis on service. Waiter. Customer service agent. Gate agent at the airport. No one gets out of it, regardless of family wealth or education.

I got to thinking about all this after getting the chance to do a ride-along of sorts with our friend, Chuck Gullett, who’s a successful real estate agent. (We’re not moving, so sorry Printers Row, you don’t get rid of us.)

Chuck was one of Whitney’s walkers while Beth was incapacitated by her heart issue a few years ago. You may remember he guest posted about a visit to the eye prosthetic studio with Beth, too.

Now, I’ve groused about real estate agents in the past—but really, it’s more about the whole process—which a good agent like Chuck helps one negotiate.

There are the requirements of the clients, which aren’t realistic. And not always consistent between both parties of a couple.

Then there are the descriptions, which make pretty much every cozy cottage seem ideal. So you don’t know anything until you visit a place.

Photo of Chuck attempting to open a lockbox.

Let’s play guess the lockbox!

That’s when Chuck becomes chauffeur. And he drives, and drives. North Side, Lincoln Park, South Side, West Loop, and back again, and sometimes during rush hour.

Chuck has a dash cam.

I asked him about it. Seems he got clobbered awhile back and while the car is back in one piece and he was uninjured, the settling of things remains messy. He doesn’t want that to happen again, so he wants video.

He’s already caught one accident—a scooter in front of him getting put down by a car. He stopped to get the scooter rider’s email, and he later sent the video for insurance purposes.

Then, finding parking. You think we can get away with doubling up here? Can we be done in 15 minutes? Take a shot.

Sometimes there’s a building with a doorman that has a key. Many, many other times, there are lockboxes. Plural emphasis. Sometimes a dozen, lined up on wrought iron fences, or low-lying pipes. As in low enough to be left-dogleg level.

Directions can go something like this: It’s the lockbox to the left of the water meter right next to the hydrangea bush.

Eventually, it’s found. If it’s one of the low lying ones and liquid comes out when you open the box, you hope it was from a recent rain.

Sometimes, there is a not a key, but a ring of say, a half dozen unlabeled keys. After trial and error and jiggling, you finally get in and…

…it’s a dump, not a fantastic cozy cottage.

The client’s face droops. Chuck goes into his best therapy routine.

Off to the next one, it’ll be better.

Then, once a property is found, there are inspections, closing agents and lawyers.

Thank goodness it’s not my job! And thank goodness there are the Chucks of the world, who can do it with aplomb.

Jack Lyon On July 31, 2017 at 7:02 pm

Agree – received clever comments while working for a small animal vet practice. Most were envious of “playtime with the doggies.”

Chuck Gullett On July 31, 2017 at 11:12 pm

A day in the life! Thanks Mike for the fun write-up. Working with people like you and Beth make it all worth while!

Sharon On August 1, 2017 at 6:45 am

A good column. It would be fun to hear about other professions and what they really put up with. Thanks.

Brad On August 3, 2017 at 12:54 am

Nice to see it confirmed what I’ve always known: Chuck Gullett is one first-rate fellow. Thanks Mike, you made me want to ride along with Charlie one of these days.

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