Anet: ‘Born to be wild’

#192 in a series of true experiences in real estate
April 1997, Hills Newspapers

My partner Anet is an anniversary nut. In her day book she keeps track of how long our business has been incorporated, when she got her broker’s license, how long ago we met. Also family, friends and clients’ birthdays and when every sale we’ve made occurred.
Several times a week Anet asks me, “You know what today is?” She waits until I reply, “No, what?” before making the announcement. “We incorporated 62 months ago!” she’ll say, true glee in her voice. Or that day it might be, “Pam and Rick bought their house two years ago today!”

I smile. Sometimes I say, “That long?”

Especially important and exciting anniversaries are duplicated on the wall calendar in our office. This year at least, all anniversaries are written in red ink, then highlighted in yellow. Most entries include exclamation marks, sometimes two or more.

For a few special days she adds decoration — my birthday, for instance, which happens to be on July 4. Anet must assume that we won’t be working on that day and she won’t need to write anything else in the space. She’s colored the entire day yellow, outlined it in pink, and written in large letters “Pat’s 56th!!!!” She even drew a bursting firecracker there.

Her own birthday, October 25, is also yellow with a pink border. She shares (she was thrilled when she learned this) her birthday with a friend and client, Jennifer, so Jennifer is on the page too. It was at the title company that we found out that Anet and Jennifer were born on the same day. Part of signing closing papers at the title company is having signatures notarized. The client gets out her driver’s license to prove who she is, the escrow officer writes down the license number, and the client signs the notary book. As this ritual is being completed, Anet says, “May I just see your license for a moment?” She does this every time. Into her day book goes the client’s birthday.

Some family members and a few close friends get an unusual gift from Anet — a birthday song. Usually first thing in the morning when it’s still too early for me to talk, let along sing, Anet calls the birthday person and sings with amazing vitality a rendition of “Born Free.”

Years ago, she explains when asked, she realized that she’d never liked the traditional “Happy Birthday” — too mundane, too dumb. She substituted “As free as the wind blows, as free as the grass grows, born free to follow your heart.”

“A perfect birthday message,” she says.

“Life is worth living but only worth living,” she sings, then stops and speaks rather than sings, “And here’s the grand finale” before ending with a loud flourish, emphasizing every syllable, “You’re born free!”

People on Anet’s singing list love this madness. Often she leaves the song on a message machine, then hears back later in the day, “I played it over three times and laughed all the way through. Then I called my mother and played it to her and she laughed.”

Occasionally a friend who has been personally sung to complains. “Thanks for the song, Anet. But I wish you’d gotten my machine. I’d rather have it on tape so I could listen to it again.”

Every year in August or September Anet starts looking in stationary stores for her new day planner. It’s early yet but she’s anxious to transfer all her dates to the pages of next year’s calendar. She’s disappointed when the new one isn’t available yet, excited when it is. She can hardly wait to take it home and spend a cozy Saturday morning sitting up in bed copying the entries from one year’s book to the next.

When we first started working together I kept my own appointment book, recording business dates and times, dentist appointments and other reminders, but after awhile it seemed silly. Anet’s book was always up-to-date and more complete than mine. Now, as in many other parts of life involving the recording of data, I rely on her. She never lets me down.

Anet celebrates our buyers’ anniversaries. She consults her diary daily and at just the right time, a few days prior to each anniversary of a house purchase, Anet sends a congratulatory card, marking the envelope “Do not open until —.”

She writes a little note which she signs, then passes the card to me for my signature. Talking and singing come more easily to Anet than writing notes. She wants the note to be just right so she spends some time considering the message, making a draft on scratch paper before committing to the final version. Only then does she tape on the money.

Each card holds brand new one-dollar bills — one for the first year anniversary, two for the second, and so on.

One of our clients got six dollars this year, six precisely spaced, overlapping and taped-on-the-back dollar bills. Anet really liked that. She showed me how pretty they were.

That same client called us sometime last year saying he was thinking about selling, moving to another house. Anet said with just a little panic in her voice, “But you’d have to start all over again and this is the year you get six dollars!”

The client knew what she meant. He decided to stay put.

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