I know what you’re thinking – that this is somehow metaphoric, or there’s a catch.
But honestly folks, last spring, I got socked hard right in the jaw by flesh and bone, as I was in the middle of a multiple offer process.
Maybe the perpetrator isn’t who you’re hoping it is – for a better story. I suppose if the listing agent and I got into a fight, TMZ might pick up the story.
But on an otherwise uneventful Friday, I’m sure you’ll get a chuckle out of this one…
If I was being metaphoric, I’d probably have said “punched in the stomach.”
The good ‘ole real estate “gut punch” that occurs during a tough loss, a bad beat, or any experience providing you with that uncomfortable feeling in the pit of your stomach.
But alas, I’m not being metaphoric, analaogous, symbolic, or even euphemistic.
Knuckles met my nose.
Flesh met my face.
Bone to the button; I was punched with a fist.
It was May of 2017, and I was presenting an offer on a west-end home, in person, at the brokerage.
The weather was nice, and we were past Daylight Saving’s Time, so I was sans-coat, walking freely in a suit on Bloor Street West.
Offer presentations were in person, and I believe there were four offers competing with mine.
The sellers were late arriving at the brokerage, so the other agents and myself waited in those under-sized, uncomfortable chairs that always adorn the foyer of a brokerage, where space is at a premium.
I presented second, and waited in my tiny chair for the other three agents to finish whispering the terms of their offer in a conference room with a sliding glass door, and no sound-proofing, before the listing agent came out and told us that they were “going to work with three offers.”
You all know what this means – we were being sent back to improve.
I try to put a positive spin on a situation like this by telling my clients that we went from having a 20% chance (1 in 5) to now having a 33% chance, as there were 3 offers left. More to the point, my read wasn’t that we had the highest offer, so if anything, we were lucky to get this second chance.
I needed some space to call my client, partially because the brokerage had no sound-proofing, but also because it was such a nice May evening, so I went outside and dialed my clients.
Standing on the north side of Bloor Street West, I spoke to my buyers and told them where we stood. There were five offers, now down to three, and I gave them my read on the situation.
I was slowly walking east, at what barely qualifies as a “pace,” as far as I knew, unassuming in nature.
Now, every area of the city has its riff-raff, but on Bloor Street West, you don’t see a lot of…..how would you call it…..rubbies?
Call me ignorant, and I don’t mean to group the homeless and the addicted into the same category, but often they go hand-in-hand. I don’t like the term “bum,” but I also don’t know how to describe the man who I saw on the street as I stood out front of a real estate brokerage on Bloor West, as I quietly spoke on the phone with my clients.
Let’s just say the man was dirty, disheveled, drunk or high (or both), very unkept, uncoordinated and wobbly, loud, and out of his mind.
You all know the type; you’re just desperately trying not to think the worst.
But as I watched out of the corner of my eye, listening to my clients go over possible scenarios for the second bid they were about to submit, I saw people dodging this man like the plague. A mother pushing a baby-stroller did a 90-degree turn to avoid his path and take the high part of the sidewalk. A young couple coming out of Subway immediately threw their eyes to the ground as they passed him by.
That left me, alone, on the sidewalk with this gentleman, but I thought nothing of it. I simply turned my back, and started slowly pacing as I spoke on the phone.
A few seconds later, I was startled as a loud, gurgling voice only feet away from me shouted, “FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKYOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOU!”
I turned towards the voice, and it was the man – now heading toward me, screaming, essentially for no reason, other than the fact that he was a fantastic mess.
My client asked, “What was that?” and I simply replied, “Oh, it’s nothing, somebody out here on the street.”
For some odd reason, one that I’ll never quite understand, the man began charging toward me, screaming and swearing. And all the while, my clients were on the phone, talking about how much they wanted to increase their offer.
I took the phone away from my ear, and turned to the man to say, “Go! Just Go!” and I started walking faster in the other direction.
But he changed course, from east-bearing to west, and followed me. All the while still swearing.
He made a charge toward me, and instinctively, I pushed him away with my left hand, while my right hand was on my phone.
And the result was a full yard sale.
Remember that term? “Yard sale?”
When we were skiing as kids, and sitting up on the chairlift, you’d yell “yard sale” when somebody fell, and their skis, poles, gloves, and hat went flying. It looked like a yard sale: a person sitting on the ground, with all their belongings surrounding them. Just like your typical garage sale, street sale, or yard sale.
This time – the one in my story, was not so fun.
The man flew backwards like a hockey player taking a dive, as I barely touched him. He fell off the curb, into the street, and I believe the term is “ass over tea-kettle.”
His legs flew up in the air, and his shoes fell off. As did his hat. As did the brown paper bag with the bottle that he was carrying.
It was a full yard sale, and he was the sole proprietor.
I told my client rather abruptly, “I’ll call you back,” and hung up the phone. I started to walk away from the mess of a man, and that’s when a young woman on a bike screeched up, yelling, “Oh my God!”
I know. I could feel her shock and awe.
The situation was a bit scary, to be quite honest.
She got off her bike, and said, “Oh my! Oh my God! What happened?”
I was a bit shaken up, but I said to her, “Don’t worry, I’m okay.”
And to my absolute amazement, in what could only further my thoughts about where society is headed today, she said, “How could you do that to a poor old man?”
I honestly can’t make this stuff up.
I was like a cartoon with my eyes popping out of my head. I said, “Pardon me?”
She said, “I saw you push this old man into the street!”
I couldn’t believe it. And I also couldn’t believe that she immediately pulled her cell phone out of her pocket, like it was a gun in a holster, and held it up and started filming me.
Another societal trend.
“Really?” I asked. “Is this really mankind’s first instinct in 2017? You have to get this on tape?”
“You just assaulted that man for no reason,” she told me, still filming.
“That old man is a whack-job who was chasing me,” I told her. “He’s a bum! He’s a random drunk who was running up and down the street swearing at people! Look at him!”
“I saw you push him!” she said. “You didn’t need to do that. There was no reason to do that,” she said.
I know she clearly missed the seconds leading up to my push, not to mention the last five minutes of this guy’s erratic behaviour. But she just looked like the type of person I’d disagree with on a regular basis. I’m not suggesting that I want to be like those in the United States who feel you should be legally permitted to empty the full magazine of an AR-15 at anybody that opens the door to your back-gate, but I’d also like to think that as an upstanding, tax-paying citizen of this fine city, extending my arm and pushing away somebody that might be looking to do me harm, or at the very least is spitting on my suit as he screamed obscenities and chased me, is warranted in the situation.
The young lady on the bike clearly didn’t agree.
“You could have done something! You could have run as fast as you could, the other way, and avoided a physical confrontation,” she pleaded.
I sighed so loudly, the neighbours probably heard it.
But before I could respond to her…
…yes, it was just like that.
The homeless guy punched me in the face.
Standing on Bloor Street West at 7:30pm on a warm May evening, in a full suit, a homeless drunk punched me in the face.
And I never saw it coming!
I was arguing with the girl on the bike, who was still filming me, and I never saw the man approaching.
I think it’s funny, otherwise I wouldn’t be sharing.
I have a black belt in Karate, I fought in competitive tournaments for five years, and I even spent a few weeks training in Japan once.
And a homeless man somehow got the drop on me; he snuck up on upon me, and punched me in the face.
It’s funny. Really, I think it is.
And in that moment, I was so shocked, I started to laugh!
The young lady said, “Oh so that is funny to you too?”
And then she started to cry.
As the saying goes, “Sh!t got weird.”
She sat down on the pavement, leaned against the brick wall, and put her head in her hands.
Unsure of what she was going to do with her video, and unsure as to whether she was going to have a complete breakdown on the sidewalk, I talked her down. I told her that I was a real estate agent, a father, and a husband, and that at 37-years-old, I wasn’t looking to get in street fights with homeless people. I apologized for her having to witness something that made her uncomfortable, or sad.
She began to describe how confused she was about the world today, and how there was no good left in it. She regaled me with her own ideologies and goals for mankind. Then I wondered if she was going to punch me too…
With a giant red cheek, I walked back to the brokerage, stepped inside, and just prayed that nobody had witnessed what had just transpired only twelve feet from those tiny lobby chairs.
My client called me back to say he would increase his price, I presented our second bid, and eventually was told that we had finished in second-place.
Second place out five offers; that’s a punch to the gut.
And in actual fact, it was worse than the punch to the face.
Because at least the latter one gave me a story to tell, and when I told it for the first time – at a family dinner in front of my wife’s cousins, aunts, uncles, and grandparents, one of them aptly told me when the hysterical laughter had died down, “This could only ever happen to you.”
My new real estate slogan:
David Fleming: An Agent Who Will Take a Punch To The Face For You
Have a great weekend, everybody!