You’ll be surprised to learn that making an offer on our dream house was difficult.
Or maybe you won’t.
I called Armando to check in. He sounded distracted. At one point early in the conversation I began to doubt that he even knew who I was.
“You know—the blond guy from Washington? With the tall guy?”
“Yes, Patrick,” he assured me. “I know who you are. You want to buy the house my brother lives in. Of course.”
Wherever his mind had been, it clicked back into smooth mode now. “What can I do for you?”
“Do we have an asking price yet?”
I could hear him shuffling papers on his desk. I couldn’t help wondering if this was a ruse, something I’d seen people do in movies to make people they’re talking to on the phone think they’re searching for relevant documents when they’re actually just scratching or looking out the window.
“Yes,” he said after a few moments, then quoted a surprisingly high price.
This was a sock in the gut. “I thought Melinda said it was within our price range.”
“Hmm,” he said. “I wouldn’t know about that. What is your price range?”
I named our price ceiling, which was about a hundred thousand less than he’d just named.
With a tiny thrill of satisfaction I realized I’d finally pushed past the limits of his remarkably good English. It made me feel slightly less hillbilly-ish for not being able to string together more than twenty words of Spanish with any proficiency.
“Our price ceiling.”
“Our top price.”
Now it sounded like he was typing. “Interesting.”
“That’s your tallest ceiling?”
I barely kept myself from laughing. “Absolute tallest.”
“Hang on,” he said.
Again, I knew what he was doing.
He was going to pretend to present a low-ball offer to the owners just like a car salesman pretends to take your ludicrously low offer to his manager when what he’s really going to do is sneak out for a smoke.
I could hear him on what I assumed was his cellphone, speaking rat-a-tat Spanish with an unknown party. The conversation went on for some time. I could even make out the odd word, but in the end I had no idea what he was saying.
And of course he knew this.
After a while he came back on the line.
“I have extraordinarily good news for you.”