“I had a real estate license for a while because I was buying rental properties for retirement income. I lost them all in the crash of 2008, but that’s a different story.
So I get this call from a couple, maybe in their sixties, they’re looking for a house in Pleasure Ridge, with a pool. The guy says ‘one to two million price range,’ which got my attention. I spent the morning on MLS and making calls, and set up half a dozen nice listings to show them.
We’re driving around, chatting, and the wife says something in Hungarian, which shocked me. They don’t have a Hungarian name, neither do I, but I’m full-blooded and spoke only Hungarian until I was 12.
I didn’t let on. I figured I might get some clues I could use to help with the sale, in case they spoke Hungarian again.
They did, and I got a huge clue. After the third house as we were walking back to the car, they lagged behind. The husband was saying to the wife in Hungarian. ‘This is better than ever. I never thought of telling these stupid real estate guys that we wanted a million-dollar-plus house. Next Sunday we’ll say two million, see what happens with the next loser. I’ll bet I can get this guy to buy us a fancy lunch too! I love these free house tours!’
The guy switched to English, all polite and apologetic. ‘Say, my wife has low blood sugar, are there any restaurants around here?’
I took them to Nicolo’s. Very expensive. We went, sat down, ordered a nice bottle of vino, and a big meal, and then I excused myself to go pee.
I found our waiter and told him I had to leave. I explained this was my birthday dinner, and my older brother and his wife were treating me. Just bring the bottle (I upgraded to the $200 Chateau Neuf du Pape) and serve them. I’ll catch up.
I popped out the side door, got in my car, and drove home.
I called the restaurant a couple of hours later and learned that my ‘brother and his wife’ had to be threatened by the police before they paid the bill and that they’d left in a cab, jabbering in some foreign language. I stopped by the next day with a big tip for the waiter.
The couple made a complaint Monday afternoon to the Real Estate Board, where my friend was executive director. They wanted my license. I’d talked to him Monday morning. He told them they were going to give me a medal, instead, and circulate their description to all the realtors in the valley.
I’m retired now and still waiting for my medal, but they tell that story every year at the new-licensee orientation breakfast.”