I turn the corner for the “affordable” building. The sign lists the broker contact details and I wonder why I didn’t notice this information yesterday. Two men without coats pass me. It is not that warm I think as a light breeze presses my hair against my lip-gloss. I tug my tresses free. The front door opens and a construction worker steps outside.
“Hi,” he says. He’s about 40 with a great complexion. He’s wearing Carharts, a company jacket, hardhat and steel-toed boots. “Hey,” I reply. “Thinking to buy?” he asks. “Maybe. If the price is right,” I say. “The floor plans are nice,” he shares. “Hhhmm,” I say and nod slightly. I need to sound reflective. Real estate in Manhattan is a merciless blood sport when contractors or brokers realize you’re interested. My words and body language need to appear loose, so he works to pique my interest. “We just laid the marble lobby and the security system’s gonna go in this week. Every unit will have a washer/dryer.”
He just raised real estate wooing to a new level. From my own hunt I know if an apartment building has even two sets of washers and dryers on-site I should drop to my knees and thank the goddesses. I have seen other New Yorkers lugging twenty pounds of stinky clothes, quarters and detergent down the street, hoping for one free machine at the Laundromat. Of course, if you can afford it, there is always the option of a washing service. But the thought of laundry IN my apartment is like finding a good sale - accidental happiness.
“Granite kitchen countertops, too,” he adds and looks me square in the eyes. Damn it! I paused too long and he knows he hooked me with laundry. I must raise the stakes. “Really granite? Or Sila-stone?” “How do you know that?” His brows wrinkle, a slow moving SUV momentarily distracts his attention. Majoring in architecture is not like serving in the Navy, I don’t wear my profession. So I must resort to dropping little bits and bubs of information that insiders would know. It gives me just enough credibility to appear knowledgeable.
“Doesn’t everyone in the industry know this?” I ask nonchalantly. So what if I don’t ACTUALLY design nor have a license? Contractor man does not need to know that. He nods and seems impressed. “Want a tour?” “Sure,” I reply. “You can’t tell anyone I did this. It’s against policy since we’re under construction and I don’t have a hard hat for you,” he explains. “I won’t say anything,” I reply.
Quickly I glance up and down the street. As I step over the building threshold I wonder, are these the last people to see me alive? I am not getting the cold-blooded murderer vibe from Contractor man. But I did just agree to follow a complete stranger into an abandoned New York City building filled with nail-guns, hammers, and power saws because he enticed me with washing machines and granite countertops.