come and sell your soul…


just when i think i’ve seen it all – heard every scam and silly story out there, another one walks in the door.  hosting an open house today for a very special apartment here in brooklyn (special translating to brownstone tall ceilings; deck and garden and beauty and light) in walked a couple both with traditional priest collars around their necks (i have no idea what this is called – but you know, the black and white collar.)  she had a piercing look about her and introduced herself as ‘Reverend Gabrielle.  [name changed for blog] in fact, that’s how she signed in …no last name.  just ‘Rev. Gabrielle’.  and she introduced herself – both of them actually – as priests.  ok.  fine with me.  i was raised as a conservative jew but as an adult have left organized religion behind me – settling for equal amounts of a personal sense of spiritualism and a mostly dubious nature.  but trust me when i tell you that i leave my own opinions at the door of business.  anyway, we are bound by very strong fair housing rules and i believe in them – i believe in the fair housing rules more than i believe in organized religion!!! 

around the apartment they walk – i give them a nice tour and answer their enthusiastic questions.  they visit the yard – i give them a bit of time to themselves – and then we reconvene in the living room where i say, as always: do you have any questions?  here is the part where we discuss what it means to live in a co-op vs. a condo (for those of you not living in nyc, the real estate market here is a very different creature) and why there is tax deductibility for part of the money paid each month.  but rev. gabrielle looked at me with her piercing eyes and said (and i have to paraphrase here but the gist is completely there): “We’ve purchased upwards of 20 properties and for each deal, we’ve asked the broker  – as a part of the deal – to ‘donate’ 1% of their commission to a charity that we give to.  We’re really interested in this property.  Would you be willing to do that?” 

i stood there.  it was an odd, disconnected moment for me – i felt like this was a play and that they were playing out a script that they had acted out many times but one that i was unaware of ever reading.  while they had looked around they were more apart – one going here, one going there.  but now they seemed to have melded into one entity.  and they were both staring at me with 2 sets of piercing eyes and 1/2 smiles on their faces.  it was just surreal. 

i looked her in the eyes and said: no.  i would not give up my commission.  it’s how i make my living.   they replied that they had had great – really enormous – success with this all over the united states (even connecticut!!!) but as they were looking in new york city, they were suddenly finding unexpected resistance to this idea.  i just looked at them and said:  welcome to brooklyn. 

why would i give up my commission?  ‘to make the deal’ came the answer.  i would, i promised them, sell the apartment without putting my commission in jeopardy.  but mostly i was thinking:  what kind of charity?  do you think, for example, that i would give you money to make a real estate deal if it meant that the charity was anti-choice?  i presumed they did mean that.  that i should give a ‘donation’  with a financial gun to my head.   hey, i haven’t made it to 51 years old – a crusty old feminist – by bending my deepest values for the sake of a sale.  they looked puzzled…and, to tell the truth, i couldn’t quite tell if they were running a scam or were dazzled by their own perceived power. 

i looked on the sign-in sheet after they left.  some spiritual mysticsm.  i really believe in the separation of church and state.  it seems i also believe in the separation of church and business.


4 Responses to come and sell your soul…

  1. Janet says:

    Wow, that’s some crazy shit. It is hard to imagine someone agreeing to this. Sound like am amazing place any leads?

  2. Holy crap. Or rather, unholy crap.

  3. Lisa C. says:

    That is complete craziness … and sounds like BS, too. I’m glad you didn’t cave.

  4. Kathryn says:

    Really – just when you think you’ve heard it all and for NYC, that’s saying something. Love the crusty, old feminist description – not you, well except for the feminist part, but it’s funny!

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