Thursday, August 11, 2005

Coffee is for closers

We signed the escrow papers on our new house this morning. For those of you who have never bought a house, this is the crucial point of no return when you sign and initial away most of your income for the next 30 years.

The beauty of it is, rarely is actual cash exchanged and the stacks of documents you are signing and initialing are so unintelligible to the average person that you are left blissfully clueless to what you have actually agreed to. But rest assured, everything you have signed is legally binding and cast in stone.

I'm always afraid someone will show up to my door in a few days with one of the papers I signed and say, "It says here you agreed to wear a pink, frilly frock and skip down the center of the express lanes of I-5 every other Thursday at 4 a.m."

"That's ridiculous. I didn't agree to any such thing," I'd protest.

They'd flip through the papers and point to the fourth paragraph. "Is this your signature."

And sure enough I'll discover I have indeed agreed to wear a pink, frilly frock and skip down the center of the express lanes of I-5 every other Thursday at 4 a.m. It's a good thing I have access to a pink, frilly frock.

But I digress.

Most mortgage companies' offices are housed in some pretty spiffy office complexes in the hinterlands. They are rarely easy to find and, once you do, you'll wander around well-appointed lobbies marveling at how nice the building is until you find the actual mortgage office. The first thing you'll notice about mortgage offices is that they don't channel any of their "fees" into fancy furnishings or receptionists. But one thing you will find consistently at all mortgage offices is a pot of lousy coffee and powered creamer waiting for you right inside the door. Why you ask? Because coffee is for closers.

Ha, ha.... Unless you have seen the movie, Glengarry Glenn Ross, that joke was completely lost on you, but trust me it was hilarious.

Anyway, after showing up at the Mortgage office they ushered us into a small office where a stack of paper about a foot tall sat in the middle of a desk next to two pens. The mortgage officer and the mortgage officer in training (there to watch us sign the stack of a papers as a learning experience) ask us to sit down and if we wanted any coffee. I, of course, respond, "Of course, because coffee is for closers." Obviously they had not seen the movie Glengarry Glenn Ross and stared at me blankly as if Tess had walked in leading the village idiot on a leash.

I was quiet for most of the rest of the time and patiently signed and dated papers and then initialed on the back of the paper that I had indeed signed the front of the paper. And then I patiently signed papers acknowledging that I understood that there was a fee being charged for having me sign the paper.

But I couldn't contain myself when the mortgage officer explained that the next paper I was signing and dating acknowledged that I understood that I would not use the property I was buying for farming or to operate a Meth lab. I feigned indignation and complained, "You mean to tell me I can't operate a farm or crank out Meth on my own property?" The mortgage officer informed me that no, I couldn't. That was why I was signing and initialing the paper.

"So," I asked. "I suppose you are going to tell me I can't grow marijuana on my property, either."

She nodded.

"And I thought this was America." The mortgage officer looked perplexed. The mortgage officer in training made a note on her notepad. Tess elbowed me.

The mortgage officer quickly turned over the next page and had me sign and date a declaration that I would agree to wear a pink, frilly frock and skip down the center of the express lanes of I-5 every other Thursday at 4 a.m.

But at least I'll have a walk in closet at our new house to keep it in.
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