the looking glass (4)

…. My eyes look wildly alert under the wide-brimmed hat I use to hide my disfigured face.  I whisper in the mirror, “I am professional, clean, and polite, I have healed a lot, my looks will not alarm them.”

Fixing my misaligned shirt buttons, I am glad I checked the mirror.

The man in the wheelchair I had met downstairs is exiting the Landbank door with papers I guess to be an application. This morning is not going to be a hand-holding, take-you-through-everything, step-by-step process.

Deep breath, no one needs to know I have never bought a house before.

The office is unassuming and non-intimidating. A soft-spoken man wearing a sweater with a well-worn New England feel to it stands behind a high wall of the receptionist cubicle. He is answering the questions of the tool belt guy and looks like he has been there all night. When the man in the sweater tells Tool Belt Guy a certain property  is unavailable, Tool Belt Guy throws all his papers in the air for dramatics. It is going to be a long day for Mr. Sweater.

Tool Belt Guy continues complaining about the unavailable property as he picks up his papers. I remain silent, the pre-elevator ride comradery is gone, and the location of his business card handed to me earlier is gone as well. I do not check to see if he takes an application.

I wait until Mr. Sweater says “Next.” before moving or making eye contact. My heart hurts for all the hard encounters people will have here today.

I request a copy of the dollar house listings and an application. Overwhelmed by the generic numbers, streets, and zip codes on the paper, I ask which homes are closest to the area I am interested in. Patiently he circles 3 out of two-hundred-something addresses. Someone behind me says, “Come on!” loud enough for both of us to hear. Mr. Sweater looks unmoved.

One of the two receptionists arrives. She unhurriedly settles at her desk before calling out, “Next.” to the person behind me. Mr. Sweater graciously refers me to their web site, before I think of another question.

He cannot promise me or anyone a dollar house, he doesn’t have the answers we want to hear. This is a place where the applicant must follow procedure with no respect given to talents, looks, or social circles.

As Mr. Sweater heads back to his office, I ask how long the whole process will take once my application is submitted.

He replies, “I don’t know, we just heard about it this morning.”

It is going to be a long day for everyone at Landbank.

…. To be continued….




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