Friday, July 12, 2013

Things everyone should learn from my mother . . .

. . . when working in an office

I literally grew up in a real estate office.  In 1961, my mother dropped my sister and I off at The Livingston Sands Motel, owned and run by Aunt Joni and Uncle Claud, while she drove to Austin to take her real estate exam (which she passed).  Interestingly, there was no availability to take the exam in Texas anywhere but Austin . . . and of course, no computers or calculators.

After she was licensed, she changed brokers a few times until she finally paired up with a lady named Mae Peden and in 1968, the opened "Peden Real Estate" at 6477 South Park Blvd. (now known as Martin Luther King Blvd.).  The office was a converted house, and the garage was enclosed to make more offices.  For air conditioning, they had window units and gas space heaters for the winter.  All was well.  In fact, mother actually lived in one of the bedrooms where my sister and I stayed from time-to-time, though we lived full time with my father.  (Those two took their bitterness with each other to the grave!)

Nonetheless, my sister didn't really have much interest in the inner-workings of the office, but I sure did!  I loved nothing more than the office machines (especially electric typewriters), answering telephones, taking messages, greeting customers, and everything there was about working in an office.

No surprise that at age 17, I obtained my real estate license, though by then, modernization had taken hold and I was able to take my real estate exam in Houston (by pencil and scantron).  It took two weeks to find out that I had passed!  Another interesting side-note is that no courses were required.  All I had to do was get certified as an adult with a simple legal procedure wherein I had my "disability of minority removed."  And since my father was living in a rooming house in Houston and my mother was living in the office, I was living with my step-mother in Conroe.....easy enough.

But here are some gems from working for an alpha-female (ie, my mother) that everyone should learn who works in an office:

1.  "On time" means 15 minutes early.  If your appointment is for 2pm, you show up at 1:45pm and wait.  If you show up at 1:55pm, you're late.

2.  "Telephone Messages" are crucial to your business.  Take the name, phone number, time that they called, any subject, write it all down including your name, date, and time, and IMMEDIATELY tape the message to the person's telephone.  Inaccuracies and tardy delivery are not tolerated.

3.  "Return your messages promptly."  If someone leaves you a message, you call them back immediately upon return.  No matter how badly you do not wish to speak to that person, you call them back promptly.

4.  "Put the trash out."  Do not let your trash can fill up . . . empty it promptly.  Wash your coffee cup.

5.  "Make sure your shoes are shined."

Were there more?  Ah yes, you bet, but these seem to jump out in my mind daily.  I still tend to these office duties with the same vigor as though Mother were still here . . . and she died in 1988.

So yes, I've really been working full time in real estate for 38 years (with license), but many more years in a real estate office.  And I can type like no one else I've ever known. . . . I still do it all today.  I'm going to go shine my shoes before work today . . . ahhhhhhhhh......