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Commentary: Realtors are a persistent lot, even when you don’t want to buy or sell

I just read on the Internet — so it must be true — that if you dream that your teeth are falling out, it means that you’ve said something unkind that you regret.

Oh, dear.

I do dream from time to time that my teeth are crumbling and falling out.

But me? Say something unkind?

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It’s those darn Realtors, isn’t it? I try to tell them nicely that I don’t want to sell my house or buy or sell an apartment building, but one company in particular — M&M Pesterers, I’ll call it — has 1,200 salesmen and all but 200 of them have called me since Lee died.

I was nice with the first 300 or so. I explained that my husband used to be willing to spend his afternoons teaching them about real estate, but that I have no interest in spending my time that way. I tell them that I don’t want to buy or sell. And if I did, I would call the broker Lee and I have used for more than 25 years.

Lee taught him a lot too, and getting advice from Marty is about the same as being able to ask Lee directly.

But nothing nice I say to Realtors stops them. My blood pressure rises as, despite each kind word, they refuse to give up. When I flat out say they’re wasting their time, they promise they’ll take my name off their list, but that doesn’t affect the M&M master list, available to all their other salespeople.

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And you likely know that anybody with a list sells it to someone else, and you’re helplessly on about a zillion lists, except the one that might matter, a functioning “Do not call” list.

You can forget about the “Do not call” list you signed up for. One caller acknowledged that they don’t check names on the lists they buy against the “Do not call” list.

Most people think that list covers all phone solicitations except for charitable donations, but the “Do not call” list only applies to interstate calls. Calls that originate within your state are not covered by the “Do not call” list. Your neighborhood caller might be intimidated if you tell him you’re on the list — if they’re not aware that to stop local callers you have to keep a record of the offenders’ phone numbers and report them to the state attorney general.

You can record the phone numbers and block them through your phone company. They still call, but the readout on the phone tells you it’s a blocked number so you shouldn’t answer it.

You can also say, “It’s illegal to solicit someone whose spouse has died.” That scares the one who started his pitch with “I talked to your husband last year and he said you might be ready to do some painting about now.”

Believe me, he didn’t talk to my husband last year.

Someone told me to say, “You’re on the air, caller. What is your experience of Rastafarianism?” Or some such.

I have come to not answer any calls if I don’t recognize the readout, but some sneak through. And mostly, phone solicitors don’t leave messages, which is nice of them. But lots do.

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I get about one personal call to every five sales calls. A solicitor told me to say that I rent so I’m not the one who hires (1) home remodelers, (2) handymen, (3) solar panel installers, etc. Plus robocalls about outstanding IRS and jury duty warrants.

You understand. You probably get as many unwanted calls as I do.

Except from Realtors.

Last Sunday, at 2 in the afternoon, an M&M pesterer called. Mostly, when the readout tells me it’s M&M, I just don’t answer.

But I answered this call.

“Honestly? M&M is calling me on Sunday afternoon to try to get me to buy or sell something? You and cockroaches will survive a nuclear holocaust! I have told the other hundreds of you who have called that I don’t want to talk to you!”

“I like you, Mary,” the agent said. “I wouldn’t have called on Sunday, but I’ve been unable to reach you during the week.”

I rolled my eyes for two reasons. First, he’s probably right since I generally ignore M&M calls. Second, I hate it when someone who doesn’t know me calls me by my legal name.

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“You don’t know me well enough to call me Mary,” I said.

“Well, uh, Ms. Newman, uh . . . “

“Look, I am just an old widow lady with a house I love and all the rental property I need, and I want to be left alone.”

“But how do you know what you need if you don’t keep in touch with the market?”

“I. Have. All. I. want.”

“But I have this sweet 12-unit building in the same block as your place on . . . “

I interrupted him. “We’re at the point where either you say, ‘Thank you for your time. I’m sorry I disturbed you’ or I just hang up on you.”

“Well, then, both.”

Both? “OK, I’m hanging up. Don’t call back. Ever.”

Come to think of it, I won’t dream about losing my teeth tonight, because I don’t regret what I said.

What I regret is not just saying “M&M, huh.” And THEN hanging up.

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LIZ SWIERTZ NEWMAN lives in Corona del Mar.


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