“People are better than thoughts, they are just harder to control.”
I heard someone say something like that about 15 years ago. I didn’t really know what he meant. I was a contractor rebuilding a bay window that had decayed from years of wood-rot. We found that the rot had spread into the interior walls in his dining room and I was trying to explain how if we didn’t replace it while we were working on the bay window, it was just going to keep getting worse.
I wasn’t very good at reading people back then. In my mind it all made perfect sense that he should have us pull off sheetrock in the dining room, build a temporary support for the second story, and start replacing studs until we got past the rot.
But he kept telling me different reasons why he didn’t want me to do it. It would take too long and they had family coming in town the following week. And besides, they might only stay in the house another year or so. In my mind, there was no good reason to not do the work. But we fixed the bay window and I left there stupefied.
Looking back on that deal, I think the issue actually was that he didn’t have the money to pay for it – which I think he was trying to indirectly tell me in the way that he expressed his other excuses. But I didn’t notice it because I was focused on what he said, not how he said it.
When settling up with him after fixing the bay window, I took one last run at defending my thoughts about the dining room wall. I went through the whole diatribe. When I was done, he handed me a check and before shutting the door said, “Yeah, well I like people better than thoughts.”
I remember thinking that it was such an odd thing to say. It stuck with me. And as I am now 15 years wiser, operating in the world we live in and welling with excitement about Christmas with my wonderful wife and two boys, I look out at my brothers and sisters in this world and that man’s comments ring true.
As a businessman, it’s too easy to fall into the trap of looking at my clients merely as next month’s paychecks. I need to constantly remind myself to look at each one on a personal level and really try to find them the mortgage that makes the most sense for them. Or tell them that maybe it’s best to wait if that’s the best course.
As someone with political leanings, it’s too easy to see everyone as simply a Republican or Democrat. It’s too easy to stick them in a category and assume they are nothing more than a list of political philosophies instead of a mother, a father, a husband or a wife.
Or what about those people born sometime between 1980 and the mid-1990s? You know, the ones who want everything done for them, while sitting on their pillows in their tiny homes getting fanned while staring into their smartphones? Those millennials get a bad rap. I do a lot of mortgages for them and really, I’ve found the ones I’ve worked with to be relatively frugal.
And despite experts constantly telling me they want to do everything online, I’ve found that more than any other age group, millennials prefer to come into the office to meet with me personally.
It’s too easy to categorize every person you meet. But I will tell you, it is liberating to talk to someone without caring about their opinion regarding the wall. Or talk to them without the responsibility of trying to craft an argument as to why I feel that Kavanaugh should or should not have been put on the Supreme Court.
I’m reminded of another phrase my father used to say to me when I was young: “Smarty, smarty had a party and no one came but smarty.” Well I will tell you folks, especially this time of year, I’m looking for the parties. If we can’t celebrate with one another and enjoy each other, then what are we really working toward? If you don’t know how to enjoy the things that make life wonderful, then I’m not trusting that you know where to lead me.
So please have the happiest of holidays everyone. Let’s look for each other around town and let’s be together in 2019. Cheers!
Geoff Smith is a mortgage banker with Assurance Financial focusing on residential home loans for refinances and home purchases.
*The views and opinions expressed in this column do not necessarily reflect the views of Assurance Financial Group