Male Real Estate Agents Are The Same Everywhere

They just have this swagger. And they try to take your money.

Let us explain. We reconsidered our deal from yesterday, and decided that we weren’t comfortable dealing with a random Indonesian guy. So, we found the realtor from the same building, and he showed us a nice one-bedroom for the same price. The quality of the apartment is far higher, with clean dishes, nicer furnishings, etc.

We talked to this realtor for some time. He says that he wants to go to America as soon as he gets enough money, but for his first trip outside of Indonesia he’ll go on the hajj. He was eager to talk about Indonesian society and American society. He showed us some slums that can be seen from our apartment window on the 22nd floor and asked us if the US has them too. After we said yes, he said, sure, but everyone still has a car, right? We corrected him as well as possible. Actually, the male one of us corrected him; as in so many other conversations, the female was ignored entirely. Interesting. It seems that all he knows about the US he learned from movies and TV, which seems a common misperception. Almost stupid, you know? Except, we have this suspicion that most Americans learned about life from television and movies too.

Talking about politics, he simply cannot believe that there are Americans who will vote for Bush. He seemed genuinely surprised when we told him that Bush looks like he will win. This sentiment was echoed earlier today by a Japanese friend of ours who we met for lunch. She seemed genuinely shocked that Americans will vote for Bush after Iraq and the economy. (So are two of her friends from the US.) In the minds of these people, it seemed a foregone conclusion that Americans would kick Bush out of office given his performance so far.

Speaking of today, whoa. Turns out Citibank Indonesia is not the same as Citibank USA. You can’t just walk up and use your account to wire money to someone. We were just encountering this predicament when the realtor SMSed (that’s text-messaging on your cell phone for the rest of you) us to tell us that he wanted cash, all of it, today. This is not just the security deposit, it’s the security deposit, six months rent, plus the security deposit on the phone, which is almost as much as the rent itself. No Indonesian walks around with that much cash, and neither do we.

Fortunately, our ball-busting Indonesian friend was within earshot, and went to bat for us. After telling him that she was from the US Embassy (which he believed) she negotiated successfully a reasonable plan. We’re all set. (You better well knock on wood for us.)

We leave you with this link, courtesy of the only person we know who owns his own successful business. (Only one of us endorses this link. Can you guess which one?)

Comments 2

  1. Jeff, or Stanley Kowalski (the cat) September 24, 2004

    One of us (can you guess which one?) is interested to know more about the dynamics of your negotiations. Is it important that you can call on your Indonesian friend-in-a-high-place to negotiate for you? What do you think the reaction would be if you spoke for yourself and dictated the terms you wanted? Would you be taken seriously? Or is it just a language barrier thing?

  2. Julie and Tom September 25, 2004

    Most of our negotiation problems are not so much language barrier as cultural gap. We don’t know just how far to push a situation without sounding like ugly Americans. We also don’t know what to expect in terms of when we are getting screwed or not. Our friend helps us to figure out whether or not a particular arrangement is acceptable. For instance, one guy wanted a security deposit in cash a couple days before we signed the lease. It sounded fishy to us, so we asked our friend, who indeed assured us that such deals are not the norm.

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