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Shopping for Homes in Charlestown

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Shopping for Homes in Charlestown
Gather 'round, boys and girls, for Chapter 1 of "The Great Apartment Hunt". Today: THE CHARLESTOWN ADVENTURE! (I know some of you have already heard this to various degrees. It bears repeating, though). The first place I wanted to look at was Charlestown. I don't really know the area too well but I had heard good things and figured I'd at least give it a shot. Sunday night I got on the Net and found a few real estate agents. Monday one called me (Gibson RE) and I set up an appointment for Thursday morning (as in, yesterday). Now, I really have no idea which roads to take and such so I called my aunt, Claire, who lives in Malden (north of Boston) and knows her way around by car. She told me that she had a friend at work, Mary Jo, who used to work at a real estate agent (Grancey RE) in Charlestown and that Mary Jo would set me up with someone who works there. As Nancy would say, "Score!" So Mary Jo sends me an email and tells me to call this guy Frank at Grancey RE and tell him what I want. I then sent mail to Claire saying something like "I'm pretty wary of real estate agents, can you vouch for these people?" Somehow that got to Mary Jo and she promised me (via email) that Frank was very honest and very ethical and they would take great care of me and treat me very well. She said that she has lived in Charlestown for many years and that it is beautiful and the most perfect place on earth and is "THE place to live". She also said something about "being a big fan of the Murphy household" and thinking that my aunt was great and that she would do anything for a member of her (my aunt's) family. I talked to Frank on Tuesday and told him what I was looking for. I said that Thursday morning was good for me and that I could meet him after my other appointment. I told Frank that Mary Jo had said a lot of good things about him and that I looked forward to meeting him, blah blah blah. Then I said something like "yeah, Mary Jo is a real salesman, she was totally kissing up to my aunt." Frank said "oh" and I simply figured "okay, that joke didn't quite work." Harmless, right?? Fast forward to Thursday morning. I go to Gibson RE (the place I found on the Internet) and the guy who's showing me the place is a total weasel. Not only that, but he's got a 4" stream of blood down his left arm and when I say "hey, you're bleeding" he says, "that's okay, it will stop." Ewwww. The place he showed me was okay but not in a great part of town and on a street that was having a lot of construction. No, thanks. It was now 10:20 and my appointment with Frank was at 1:00. So I went to Burger King and was glad to see that they served breakfast until 10:30. I went up to the counter and ordered a Croissanwich. The girl working there said "I'm sorry, we're no longer serving breakfast." I look at my watch. 10:20. I look at the sign to see what time they serve breakfast until. 10:30. I do some quick math... Have you ever seen the movie "Falling Down"? It's one of my favorites and I immediately had a flashback to the scene in which Michael Douglas can't get french toast sticks (which Burger King also serves and I almost ordered) 10 minutes before they stop serving breakfast and he breaks out one of his (many) semi-automatic weapons and holds up the place. I was pretty close to doing the same thing. I said, "yeah, but it's only 10:20 and the sign says you serve breakfast until 10:30". She said "sorry, we don't have any food left." I sighed and said "okay, no problem." As I'm walking out - I swear to God this next part actually happened - an old woman sitting by herself says "This isn't McDonald's, you know!" I thought she was referring to the fact that McDonald's serves breakfast until 10:30, and maybe she was under the impression that BK only served until 10. I said, "I know that, ma'am, but the sign says they serve breakfast until 10:30 and it's only 10:20." She replied "You can't just come in here and order a Big Mac! This isn't McDonald's, you know!" Ooooo...kay.... I went to Dunkin Donuts and then walked around Bunker Hill for a while. I met up with Frank and he was a total RE salesman. He was so excited about selling some zillion dollar home earlier that day. As we walked out to go look at the first place, I asked "do you usually deal with sales, or with rentals?" and he said "both". I said "okay, I just don't want you to think I'm wasting your time because I'm just renting" but he said "oh, no, not at all, no problem." We went to look at a place about two blocks away from Bunker Hill. It was on a little dead end street and had a roofdeck with a view of the Harbor and downtown Boston. Unfortunately, the place was totally under construction, as in they were renovating EVERYTHING. There were no electrical outlets, no fixtures, and a big hole in the wall where the door to the porch would be. Frank kept saying "you need to visualize what this place will look like" and I joked "yeah, well at $1100 a month, if I don't like what it REALLY looks like, visualizing won't help me much." He didn't think that was too funny. Next! Now, I don't know how familiar you are with Bunker Hill, but the monument is in the middle of a square street block (named Bunker Hill Sq, and the places there are beautiful). If you imagine the four streets surrounding the monument extending out, the next place I saw was on one of those extensions, literally within a block of the monument. Unfortunately, at the end of that street are the projects, so that particular block is a bit like Charlestown Purgatory. The apartment itself, though, was very nice. It was a unit on the second floor of a three story building. It wasn't TOO big, had a back porch, a washer/dryer in the bedroom (cool!), a nice kitchen, and a big living room. I really liked the place, but of course I want to look at a number of other places and was certainly not ready to break out the checkbook. So I told Frank that I would be in touch. As RE agents are supposed to do, he said "well, don't wait too long. This place gets an ad in this Sunday's Globe and I guarantee it will be gone by next weekend." I told him that I understood that and that I'd take that risk. I wasn't blown away by the place and wanted my friends to see it and see what they thought. So that was it. Or so I thought. I went home to drop off my car and then took the T to work. When I got here, I had a fair load of email to go through, and one of the ones towards the end was from Mary Jo. I figured she just wanted to know how things went. Wrong. The email went something like this (I have the original if you care to see it): "I just talked to Frank. Here are a few things you should know: 1. I referred you to Frank as a favor to you and a favor to your aunt because she said were wary of RE agents. Stupid me, I figured you would be smart enough to have taken advantage of it. 2. I have never kissed up to anyone and certainly wouldn't need to do so in real estate, especially for a "Rental Deal". 3. I'm sorry you have such an attitude problem and don't appreciate when people are trying to help you." "Attitude problem"?? She's never even MET me! It usually takes people HOURS to figure out I have an attitude problem. Okay, minutes. =) Well, you probably know that I don't take things like that too lightly, and I also have a big problem with people trying to resolve their issues through email. So instead of replying, I called her. You can imagine her surprise when I told her who I was. Then I tried to play it all apologetic. It kind of went like this: Chris: "I'm afraid there's been some miscommunication here, Mary Jo. I never meant to insult anyone. I appreciate the fact that you referred me to Frank, and what I said about kissing up to my aunt was a joke. Really." Mary Jo: "Well, Frank didn't find it very funny, and I found it quite insulting. You have a lot of growing up to do." Chris: "Uh, okay. I didn't mean to upset you, Mary Jo, and whatever happened today between me and Frank is strictly professional and strictly a business relationship. I treated him just like I would treat any other RE agent." Mary Jo: "I think you should understand that you handled this whole situation very poorly." Chris: "I'm sorry you feel that way, Mary Jo, but I wish you or Frank would have told me that in person instead of flaming me." Mary Jo: "What's that?" Chris: "Flaming?" Mary Jo: "Yeah, what's that mean?" Chris: "Flaming someone is an email term for sending very hateful and angry mail, since it gives you the opportunity to do so with a certain degree of anonymity. It's something people do when they're too much of a coward to deal with their problems face to face." Mary Jo: (silence) Chris: "So...I want to apologize for anything that I said to offend you or Frank, and I hope there's no hard feelings." Mary Jo: "Well, Chris, let's just forget the whole thing ever happened." Yikes. I called Frank to see what the hell he said to her but I got his voicemail. I simply thanked him for his time and told him that I had spoken to Mary Jo and was a bit disappointed because if he had any issues I wish he had mentioned them to me, not her. I told him I didn't want to turn this in to any more of a soap opera than it already was and that I'd call him if I wanted to see any more places. He hasn't called me back. Maybe I've been black-listed. So, for all you people who said that Charlestown was dirty or a hole, I strongly disagree. The places I saw were very nice and had a good combination of the old and the new. For all you people who said that Charlestown was too far away, I'm starting to agree, but I'm not totally convinced. Unfortunately, none of you pointed out that all the people there are PSYCHO!! Good-bye, Charlestown!! Hello, Brookline!!
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Entered on: 03/17/1998
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