When One Thing is Not Like the Other Things

One thing that is not like the other thingsA Sacramento real estate agent needs to possess extraordinary powers of observation, just like a journalist. My late father-in-law, a former Chicago Sun Times journalist, would often boast to strangers (and his family) that he was a “proFESSional obSERVer,” which was generally used in a conversation to support dissent, to build a case for his opposing point of view. Half-jest but half-serious, too.

Sometimes, an agent can tap a simple component in the power of observation by isolating and analyzing the one odd thing that stands out from the others. This happens when one thing is not like the other things. Let’s take a situation when sellers receive multiple offers from buyers for, say, single-level homes in Elk Grove. Even better if a single-level Elk Grove home is located on a cul-de-sac, with hardwood floors throughout and a 3-car garage. Then, in the middle of dozens of offers arrives a lone cash offer for significantly more money. Sort of stands out like a sore thumb. Like when one thing is not like the other things.

That offer would be the one thing that is not like the other things. A seller might want to grab that offer and latch on to it like Gollum stroking his precious ring. This is the part in which a Sacramento real estate agent might caution the seller, and make sure the seller understands the possible consequences. When one thing is not like the other things, something might be wrong.

For example, I wandered through my vegetable garden a few days ago, on a hunt for ripened serrano peppers. Because it’s October, the garden is overgrown; oddly enough, we have tiny little tomatillos that are no bigger than an olive. For some reason, the tomatillos are fairing poorly this year; their entangled vines are crawling up the sides of another garden box, blocking the path. My focus was on the tomatillos, wondering whether my husband is right and we should yank them out.

As I passed the hydrangeas, something caught my eye. Among the decaying purple and pink flowers, I spotted a peculiar object. Whoa. It was not like the others. It was a cucumber. That stopped me in my tracks. A cucumber does not belong there. This is one thing that is not like the other things. The cucumber had crept over on a vine and worked its way up the hydrangea branch. Just the right size, too. I plucked it and ate it on the spot.

That is an example of when it’s a good thing that one thing is not like the other things. Sometimes, though, when one thing is not like the other things, it can be a bad thing.

Take the cash buyer who offered way above everybody else for that home in Elk Grove. The cash buyer caused the sellers unnecessary stress and commotion throughout the entire transaction. Demanded kickbacks, insisted the seller pay for an inspection that the buyer ordered himself and made up his own rules as he went along. The buyer reneged on verbal assurances and in general made himself a royal pain to the seller. At closing, he made his buyer’s agent wait four hours at the home, in an empty house, to deliver the keys.

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