It was such a rush of emotions that day. It was happiness, sadness, fear, excitement, guilt; basically a bittersweet shot of espresso with emoticons floating in it that I was about to consume in one big gulp that afternoon.
I thought I had it all planned out. My broker was going to be at a showing for a few hours, west of the metro in a small town called Glencoe. I was going to have my office prepped for when he got back to the office. I was going to have a long conversation about why I was leaving, allowing him the chance to ask me whatever he wanted. We were going to remain friends. But as the saying goes, “The best laid plans of mice and men…”
As fate would have it, there was a funeral that day. And just my luck, my broker was attending that funeral. It turns out that the funeral was not for anyone particularly close to him, but a funeral is still a funeral, and doesn’t exactly set a happy mood in my book. Nevertheless, I couldn’t turn back. I sat patiently at my now stark office, looking very similar to the day that I started. No artwork, no pens, no custom hand-written notes from my wife attached to the pictures of us. Just a monitor, mouse, a chair and walls of taupe. I watched the minutes pass, waiting for his return.
After what seemed like an eternity, he came back to the office. I was ready. There was only one other person left in the office, and I had already explained to him that afternoon the reason why there was no personal effects left of mine at the office. My broker came back towards me, looking a bit confused as to why my desk was so completely vacant. “Are you quitting?” I managed to eek out a “Yup.”
He turned back around, walking towards his office. I followed him, no instructions needed. I sat down in the chair that I had sat in hundreds of times before. We both had the thousand yard stare that I imagine comes with PTSD. I explained to him that I wanted to venture off to do my own thing. I thought that maybe after the many conversations we had over the past few years of changes that I thought should be implemented at the brokerage that he could maybe understand. Maybe he did, maybe he didn’t. He responded “Well, I guess I should take this as a compliment, because I must have made this look too easy.” I asked him if he had anything that he wanted to ask me. I knew the answer was no even before he said it. “I hope there is no ill-will between us” I said. He responded “Honestly, I don’t know.” Those words rang in my head like a church bell. It was clear that I had just shattered his world. I was his senior agent, and had been with him more than twice as long as anyone else previously. We shared not only an office, but a friendship.
I stood up at this point, not knowing what to say. I remember reaching my hand out to shake his hand. I stood there for about 30 seconds. I think I must have blacked out, because the rest is a blur. I don’t remember if we shook hands or not, but I know that I ended up in my car in the parking lot. As the saying goes, “You don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay here.” Well, I couldn’t go home yet, since I still needed to pick my wife up, who worked about a mile away.
I sat in my car in her company’s parking lot for a while afterwards, having a very pleasant conversation with one of my favorite clients. He congratulated me and was excited for me as well. He reminded me that it wasn’t about where I was coming from, but where I was going. I wasn’t doing this to be spiteful towards anyone, but was doing it to make my future what I wanted. We talked for about the next hour and a half about life, brewing beer, skiing, business, and I’m sure other topics that I probably don’t remember. Other clients of mine that I spoke with afterwards said the same thing, congratulating me, asking me what they could do, saying that they knew that I needed to do this for myself.
It was Friday the 13th. It was one of the most terrifying days of my life, but I had survived. Just like getting off on the most intense roller coaster you’ve ever been on, I was relieved to have it over with. That is how I started Apex Commercial Properties.
It turns out that almost a month later, on Friday the 13th in March, my wife also quit her job. But, that story is for another time, and for her to tell.