How the Heck to Buy a House Today, Part II

How do you connect with a home-seller who’s into nudie pics? I found out…

What About the Naked Pictures?

An interview with Envoy Mortgage’s fab mortgage banker/Hollywood insider, Christina Gobe, continued.

Just the Assistant: Okay Gobe. In part one of our interview, you were in the middle of answering my question about how to buy a house in this market. Give us some more scoop.

Gobe: Next, I recommend for buyers to get pre-approved for a loan instead of pre-qualified.

JTA: Now, wait a minute. Why come? I thought getting prequalified is legit.

[JTA Note: Here’s a post where I explain the difference between pre-quals and pre-approvals. Blah Blah Blah.]

Gobe: Let’s say I’m selling my house, and I have three offers that are very similar in price, and I see that two of the people have been pre-qualified for a house, but the third person has actually been pre-approved. I’m going to accept the bid of the person who has the best chance of actually securing the financing to buy my house.

JTA: That makes sense. Okay, what else?

Gobe: Finally, I would tell people to not be afraid of writing a cover letter when they put in an offer.

JTA: I’ve heard of these. It’s like a love letter, but about a house, right?

Gobe: Yeah, kind of. When we put the offer on our house last year, I wrote a letter to the buyer and told her how I was really looking forward to raising my kids there, and how I’d always wanted a white house with black stutters. Then I complimented her decorating, saying “I hope I’ll be able to decorate it as beautifully as you have…”

JTA: You suck-up! So you think that helps in the “multiple offer” situations?

Gobe: Yes. Like I said, if they have two offers that are pretty similar, the seller is going to look at other factors. And most sellers want to sell their house to someone who will love it and take care of it.

JTA: So people shouldn’t write stuff like, “I can’t wait to redo that nasty kitchen of yours.”

Gobe: Exactly. I’ve even heard of people sending a picture of themselves or their family. You should just try to find a connection with the sellers.

JTA: That happened to a friend of mine when he sold his house. Some lady wrote him a letter after spying a guitar in his living room and claimed she was all into music.

But answer me this, Gobe. A couple of years ago when I was house-hunting, we saw this one house where the owners had naked pictures of themselves on the walls of the hallway.  And they’d made one of the shots into a hologram. I’m not making this up.

House Hunting

Censored for sensitive readers

Can you  please give me some advice on writing a cover letter for this family? Like, how do I connect with that?

Gobe: Well, ah…Maybe you could say something like, “I, too, appreciate the human body. Not really my own, but human bodies in general?” (Laughing) Or you could tie in the idea about sending a picture.

JTA: Ha! You’re the best, Gobe. Okay, I know you’re busy, so while you go answer all your phone calls, I’m going to work up a quick draft of a cover letter our reader(s) can use.

Dear (Homeowner’s first name, or a nickname you give him/her but not like a sexy nickname, unless you’re into that sort of thing, and in that case, let me know how it goes),

Is it weird to say I am in love with your (townhome, house, bungalow)? While walking through each room, I couldn’t help but picture my (child(ren), dog, cats, alcoholic uncle) growing up and learning how to (walk, sit and stay, sleep more?, hide his drinking habit from his boss) within these walls. Once I got to your bedroom and saw your (wedding photo, pistol, handcuffs, Bible) on the nightstand, I knew we had a deep connection. I’m (married, afraid of intruders, into that stuff, a Christian) too!

With that, please know that though my offer on your house is (full asking price, a little under full asking price, insultingly lower than asking price, twelve dollars), it is the best I can do, and I hope you accept so that I can turn your home into my home!

Thank you!

(Your first name, Your first name plus your kid(s)’ name(s), Your first name plus your dog’s first name plus a paw print, Your first name plus your cat’s first AND last name, Your first name plus your uncle’s name)

How the Heck to Buy a House Today, Part I

My mother has a mild addiction…to Goodwill stores.

When she visited me over Thanksgiving, I dropped her off in the Heights one day to peruse the trendy little shops along 19th Street. Two hours later when I called to see if she was ready to come home, she instructed me to pick her up at the Goodwill she’d found a few blocks away. Once back in my car, she said, “The polo shirts were four dollars! I need to go back to Florida. My Goodwill in Florida has them for two dollars.”

With that, when I found this cool blog yesterday –  written by this chick who knows everything about thrift stores and decorating your place for cheap, I sent it to my mom. And then I spent two hours reading all the tricks on how to decorate your entire house for like seven dollars.

Okay, now that I have solved all of your life problems concerning decorating a house, I will now solve all of your life problems concerning actually getting your house. And that’s why I have snagged an interview with Christina Gobe, also known as Hollywood Insider Gobe (girl loves her some TMZ… and mortgages).

What About the Naked Pictures?

An interview with Envoy Mortgage’s fab mortgage banker/Hollywood insider, Christina Gobe

JTA: Hey Gobe! The last time we checked in with you, you’d just been “rewarded” your own office since you’d done like a thousand loans, but since then you’ve switched offices. Do you like this one better?

Gobe (looking around): Well, this one doesn’t have a column in the middle that blocks me from moving my chair. So I’d say it’s better. I know you’re all into standing while you work these days, but I like to be able to scoot in my chair.

JTA: Sitting is killing America, I tell you. Now then, have you had any crazy borrowers lately you can dish on?

Gobe (pondering): Well, not a crazy client but I did have a client that called me every day, three times a day throughout his loan process. He was pretty funny. He liked to talk… a lot.

JTA: Did you answer the phone every time he called?

Gobe: Of course! Even when it was late and he wanted to know where to get a refrigerator, and what I thought about scratch and dent places, I answered.

JTA: That’s hilarious. Like, “This lady knows a lot about mortgages; I’ll bet she has some good insight on Whirlpool appliances too.”

Gobe (laughing): Yeah, uh, I guess scratch and dent places are okay?

JTA: That’s great though. It shows that people really trust you. Okay, Gobe, listen. At the top of this post I gave people a link to a neat blog I found on decorating your house, so now I want to give readers some tips on actually getting the house.

So here’s my question. I’ve heard that homes in Houston are selling, like, the day they go on the market, and that people are offering more than the asking prices. First of all, is that true, and second of all, if it is true, what should people do?

Gobe: That is happening. Sellers are getting multiple offers from buyers, so it’s a very competitive market. As far as what to do about it if you’re a buyer, there are a few things.

Boss James (entering office and rudely interrupting my interview so that he could ask Gobe a mortgage question): Hey Gobe, blah-dit-y blah blah bleh?

Gobe (rudely pausing my interview to answer the question): Bleh blah blah-di-tada.

JTA: Gobe, I think you’re the smartest mortgage banker I know. Can I take your picture?

Gobe: No!

JTA: Why?! You never let me take your picture! You look nice. Can I take one if I stick Heidi Klum’s face on top of your face?

Gobe: Well if you’re going to do that, you could use someone else’s body for the picture, right?

[JTA Note: Told you she’s smart.]

JTA: True. JAAAAAMES! Get back in here!

Heidi-James-Gobe gets work done...

Heidi-James-Gobe gets work done…

JTA: Okay Gobe, back to the question. How the heck are people suppose to buy a house these days?

Gobe: First, I would tell homebuyers to work with a real estate agent that specializes in the area you want to move to. Because if they specialize in that area, they’ll have a heads up on houses that are about to go on the market, and can sometimes let you see a house even before it goes up.


[JTA Note: Dear readers, Gobe and I eventually found ourselves in a very deep discussion concerning naked people and their role in selling houses. Yes, there is a connection there. But here’s the thing. I’m already at like 800 words on this post, and I know good and well that normally functioning humans have a limit on just how much they’ll read a mortgage blog; and besides, I need a snack. With that, I will post part II of this interview on Friday. In the meantime, if you need a realtor for a certain part of town, or have a question regarding the Bieb’s latest shenanigans, contact Gobe – and she can give you the hookup. And if you find anything worth noting at Goodwill, let me know so I can tell my mom.]

The Hippies

Envoy Mortgage has its very own real life hippie…

So I told y’all that last week I went to the corporate office to snoop about and sucker the new team into loving me, right? While there, I met this hippie loan officer named Shaun whom I briefly introduced you to.

In order to allow you at least five minutes of shopping left before Christmas, I’m not going to write out the entire interview because Shaun talked for ninety minutes, and at one point he was literally talking about the marine life in Galveston and I was like, “Dude. Just stop. I’m not writing about squids.” But I do want to give you a glimpse of this guy because he’s fascinating.

Free Range Beef and Free Range Thoughts

An interview with Envoy Mortgage Loan Officer/Hippie Shaun Brennan

Just the Assistant: So Shaun, you work for Ty, right? Are you afraid of Ty?

[Background on Ty here.)

Hippie Shaun: No, but the first time I met Ty he was in a fight. We went to rival high schools in Pasadena and at a party one night Ty got in a fight with two guys and won.

JTA: Stop it right there. I don’t believe you one bit. Nobody gets in a fight with two guys at once and wins. That’s just on TV. Or, you’re romanticizing high school, because in my high school, fights lasted like twelve seconds.

Hippie Shaun (nodding): It’s true. He fought two guys and won and one of the guys was named Bubba.

JTA (shaking my head because I still don’t believe him): How did he beat up two guys? Why were they fighting?

Hippie Shaun: He punched one and pushed him, then punched the other guy and ran out of the garage. It was all just because Ty was from another school.

JTA (slaps Shaun’s desk): Were you in high school in the fifties? What were y’all, the Outsiders? Did you get in a fist fight, too?

Hippie Shaun: Yeah. Everybody did! That was just what Pasadena was like. But I’m a more peaceful person now. I like to shop at thrift stores and listen to music and promote musicians.

JTA: What? You’re like a hippy? You’d love my mom. She only shops at Goodwill.

Hippie Shaun: I’m kind of a hippie.

JTA: I bet you didn’t vaccinate your kids, did you?

Hippie Shaun: Well, we did have two all natural home births with the help of a midwife. My wife went entirely without medication and I helped deliver both of my children.

JTA (delighted): What!? That’s awesome! Your kids are going to live to be, like, a hundred I bet. Now, tell me about the music stuff.

[Just the Assistant Note: This is the part where Shaun made me watch his hippie videos.]

Tambourine Man

Hippie Shaun: So I’m in charge of distribution for this guy.

JTA: Like you have to make sure his CDs are sold? How are you going to do that?

Hippie Shaun: I don’t know yet!

JTA: You’re in trouble! You better start asking your borrowers to buy this guy’s CD!

Hippie Shaun (laughing possibly at my joke or possibly from the vibrations from the earth that only he can feel): I get along with a lot of different people. I once did a loan for a district attorney, and later I was at a concert with a friend who was, a, um, he had some run-ins with the law –

JTA: Hey, it’s cool Shaun. I come from a family of criminals myself.

Hippie Shaun: Okay good. Well my friend and I bumped into the DA at the concert, and it turns out the DA had convicted my friend a few years earlier. I like having my feet on both sides of the railroad track.

[JTA Note: Though Shaun has friends in the pen, he’s a total love-peace-earth guy himself and refrains from illegal activity.]

Shaun Day and Night

JTA: So do you like to travel?

Hippie Shaun: Yeah, I do. I go to Big Sur every year. But, actually, don’t write about that.

JTA: I can’t write that you go to Big Sur?

Hippie Shaun: I don’t want everybody to know about Big Sur.

JTA (choking on my water): DUDE, how many readers do you think I have? Like, this mass of people is going to start flocking to Big Sur because I mentioned it in my mortgage blog? Ha! Oh that’s good stuff, man. Oh, and I know I’m suppose to know this, but what is Big Sur?

Hippie Shaun (not entirely appreciating my mocking): It’s this 150 mile long land mass. I go and camp, hike, hang out. People go to get lost and found.

JTA: Okay well from now on how about you not talk about stuff you don’t want me to write about because it makes my job kind of tricky.

Hippie Shaun: Okay, well I also want to be a standup comedian for a year. It’s on my bucket list.

JTA: You want to be a standup comedian?

Hippie Shaun: Yep. I used to have loads of material, but it was in a backpack and the backpack was stolen on the beach (along with my wedding ring). And now there’s this other comedian who uses jokes just like I wrote and I think he stole my backpack.

JTA: I’m sure he did, Shaun. People are all the time stealing ideas from the hippies. Now, I’m going to go, and you get back to talking about mortgages/toiling in your organic soil/loving the earth, okay?

Okay y’all, stay tuned for more on Shaun because I am totally not finished with this guy. I may stop writing about anyone else at all and just focus on him and Galveston marine life and music that involves lots of tambourines. Well, maybe not the marine life, but definitely the tambourines.

Happy Wednesday, readers!

The Company I Write for Blocked My Writing

I have a bone to pick with Mr. Envoy Mortgage. On a trip to our corporate office yesterday to meet more of our new team, I met a very kind loan officer assistant (just like I used to be! Except for he actually proves useful to his boss and is a lot more important) named Daniel. Daniel had a hazy familiarity with my blog, much in the way you’d remember the Christmas from when you were three. Like, “I remember a tree, and I think my dad got drunk that night, but that’s about it.” So I tried to tell Daniel about my work. “So I write this blog? And I write about the people who work here? And I try to make it funny?”

Daniel then asked me the web address (okay so he had a slightly less than hazy familiarity) and typed it into his computer.

And this popped up:

Blocked by My Own Company


“What!” I exclaimed. “You must have typed it in wrong, Daniel. What kind of assistant are you? Try again.”

But still, the same results.

I’m blocked. Y’all, the company for whom I write a blog has blocked my blog from their corporate employees. I can’t decide if I’m exasperated or flattered. I think both. So listen, Mr. Envoy, I know you have some IT people working for you because I’ve called them when my computer acts wonky. I suggest you get this issue taken care of before I take down this company with all my power.

I’ll do it. I swear I’ll do it.

After I gasped at the atrocity, I asked Daniel for his best office gossip, and he was totally rude and wouldn’t say anything bad about anybody. At that point, I had to go interview Daniel’s boss, so it was time to say goodbye to my new friend.

Me: Okay, Daniel, I’ll be back to talk to you some more later!

Daniel (shifting in his chair): Um, you don’t need to do that.

Me: I’ll be right back. You think of some dirt!

Daniel (turning away from me): Eh…no.

Daniel Wants Me to Go AwayAfter my non-interview with Daniel, I snooped around corporate for a while. Here’s the thing, people. I’m kind of in this trial period. So I’ve told y’all that we’re part of this big branch now, right? And the leader of the big branch is named Ty, right? Well, I don’t think Ty is totally sure about me (which, okay, is kind of understandable as I’ve written on three different occasions that I suspect he has ties to the mafia).

So I’m trying to convince everyone on our new team to love me so that if Ty tries to oust me, everyone will revolt and there will be this huge mutiny. To begin accomplishing my goal, yesterday after interviewing Daniel I spent six minutes of my life that I’m never getting back watching grungy music festival videos with Daniel’s hippie boss, Shaun, who happens to produce and distribute all sorts of granola-lyrical-peace type stuff after work.

Not gettin' this time back, people.

Not gettin’ this time back, people.

Totally joking, I was like, “Do you have a festival to produce tonight?” and he was like, “Not tonight, but I had one last week,” and then made me asked me if I wanted to watch the video.

Dude was so kooky interesting that I’m saving my interview with him for a whole other blog post, so stay tuned for that.

Okay, sweet readers, you all have a happy Wednesday. (Oh – and feel free to leave comments for Ty below!) Now, off to start a revolution.

Mr. Nicer Guy

There’s this guy at Envoy who works for the corporate office named Jim Hopkins. My Boss James told me I should interview him. He didn’t say why, but I think it’s because Jim is very important and James thought it’d make us look good. Too bad James forgot that I often make us look rather poorly in front of others…

There’s No Basement in the Alamo

An Interview with Envoy Mortgage Regional Vice President, Jim Hopkins

Just the Assistant: First things first, Jim Hopkins. I’ve heard that in addition to being an Envoy Mortgage Big Shot, you are a CrossFit coach. How many pull-ups can you do?

Jim Hopkins: Strict pull-ups? Ten.

JTA (snickering): My husband’s stronger than you. Just sayin’.

JH: But I bet he’s smaller than me, too and has less to lift –

JTA: Stop it right there, buddy! He’s stronger than you. Period. Now let’s  move on before you make me mad. How’d you get such a fancy office? What’s this, mahogany?

JH: I was the fourth person they ever hired at this company, so I worked my way up. I first started as a set-up tech. Oh, and that refrigerator is mine I brought from home.

JH - Refrigerator

JTA: What’s a set-up tech?

JH: I entered clients’ information into the computer.

JTA (wondering how he’s going to take this): Like, loan applications? Uh, Jim? You realize you were an assistant, right? And apparently they gave it a fancy name, because that’s exactly what I did when I first came here and you’ve seen the name of my blog, right? It’s not called Just the Set-up Tech. Okay, what do you do now for Envoy?

JH: I’m head of several regions. Think of me as a pocket CEO. I bring people into the company. I make branches more successful. I help with strategies, P&L stuff…I’m  like an executive sounding board.

[Just The Assistant Note: No clue what P&L stuff means. Come to think of it, I don’t know what an executive sounding board is either.]

JTA: Do you get to fire people?

JH: Nobody “gets” to fire people. But some people have to fire people. Yes, I have to do that sometimes. When my wife was laid off from Enron, it devastated her. I’d never had to be at home with the aftermath of being sent home, so now that I know what that’s like, it’s that much worse, whether they deserve it or not. Outside of reports, it’s the absolute least favorite part of my job.

JTA: Has anyone ever freaked out when you fired them?

JH: Not when I fired them, but we’ve had to have someone escorted out by security, but that was many moons ago.

JTA: How did you get so important here? Why do they keep giving you promotions?

JH: There have been a few unfortunate accidents of people who would have succeeded before me. Just some freak accidents. Life gets much more dangerous if you’re more senior to me.

JTA: Ha! I should try that, too. So I guess you heard that our branch is under that guy named Ty now. I’m kind of intimidated by Ty. Are you intimidated by Ty?

JH: No, I recruited Ty. He’s intense though.

JTA: You’re intense, too.

JH: I used to be very intense as a branch manager. I once bet a loan officer his eyebrow over a deal. This was all before HR – those party poopers! But I’m much nicer than I used to be.

[JTA Note: When I first met Jim Hopkins, I was like, “Who’s that prick?” to my boss James. But lately he really has gotten nicer. It makes me wonder if he almost got hit by the light rail or something and started reevaluating life.]

JTA: What made you become nicer?

JH: You grow up. I just sounded like an idiot. You don’t have to be that guy that freaks everybody out because they’re terrified of him. I used to be in charge of interviews and they’d call it “the smoke down”.

JTA: Oh my gosh…what would you do that was intense in interviews?

JH: Rapid fire questions designed to see if you’d break under pressure.

JTA: That’s horrible! I’m really glad James is my boss and not you. James took me to Houston’s for my interview and drew flowcharts for me on the lunch napkins and hired me on the spot. Speaking of James, you might have heard that I kind of cussed him out a few weeks ago. Have you ever gotten in an argument with someone here at work?

JH: On a regular basis. David, Dana and I used to yell in every meeting. It was cordial, but very open.

[JTA Note: David Zugheri and Dana Gompers are the two founders of this company. If I were Jim, I think I’d stick to using my inside voice with those two.]

JTA: But now you’re nicer, right?

JH: I’m still intense but with different values. It used to be all about the money. I’d outwork anyone else and I wanted to win at all costs. Then I had kids and I realized there’s way more to life and I have a brief, finite time on earth.

JTA: Amen. Now, what if you were the CEO of Envoy? What would you change?

JH: Everybody’s loans would be approved instantaneously. We’d just give out money. As long as you pay it back. Boom.

JTA: Heck yeah! What’s that sign on your wall?

JH: You don’t know what that is? Didn’t you take Texas history?

JTA: Uh, they didn’t offer that in my high school in Atlanta.

JH: It’s from the Battle of Gonzalez. When Santa Ana came and wanted a cannon back. They said, “You want it, come and take it.” It’s the opening phase of the Texas war for independence!

JH - Texas History

JTA (not registering any of this): You’re so touchy, I swear. Hey, I went on a tour of the Alamo a few months ago. Does this have anything to do with the Alamo?

JH - Alamo Draw

JH (face dropping into hands in disgust): Are you kidding me?! You need to brush up on your Texas history!

JTA (trying to think of some Georgia history): Oh yeah, well do you know about…uh…

JH: Sherman? Yes. (Jim’s phone rings ). It’s Ty.

JTA (thankful for the distraction as I kind of don’t know who Sherman is): Ooh, ask him if he’s intimidated by me!

JH (answering phone): Hey Ty, I’m here with Just the Assistant and she wants to know if you’re intimidated by her. Oh, and she doesn’t know anything about Texas history.

JTA: Now please hang up because we aren’t finished.

JH (into phone): I’ll have to call you back, Ty.

JTA: Is there anything else you want people to know?

JH: No. I’m kind of dull. Can you make up something for me?

JTA: Of course!

[Jim would like you all to know that you should send me money. Like five dollars apiece should do it.]

After our interview, Jim paraded me around to higher-ups in the company and told them how little I know about Texas history. I may or may not sneak back into the corporate office and place some moldy ham in his fancy office fridge.

JH and JTA - Envoy

But for now, I’m off to brush up on my Georgia history. Happy Wednesday, readers!

My Bosses Broke Up (and James got to Keep the Office Plant)

It’s time you hear the whole scoop concerning this office and what we’ve been through in the past month. It’s been a bumpy month, folks, but things are looking up.

I sat down with my Boss James today for all the details…

The Plant Stays

An interview with my Boss, James Beaver

Just the Assistant: First things first, Boss… you and Chad broke up. When I broke up with boyfriends in high school I’d listen to old country songs and smoke cigarettes. Have you tried that?

James Beaver: Not yet.

JTA: Okay Boss, this is big stuff. What happened?

JB: Basically, Chad took me out for a drink and told me that he had a job offer from a company he was a big fan of. He told me he was considering accepting it, but he wasn’t sure. So he took some time to think about it, and two days later he told me he was taking the job.

JTA: Had things been rough between you guys leading up to this?

JB: No, everything was good. We’re still good. He just emailed me actually. I mean, I’d prefer that he still worked here, but we’re good.

JTA: Ooh, write him back and tell him that I’m interviewing you about him!

(James ignores me.)

JTA: Can we say that Hayley and Rachelle left, too?

JB: Yeah, we can say that.

[Note: Hayley and Rachelle left with Chad.]

JTA: So Chad decided to leave, and that left you to run this branch alone. What were you thinking then?

JB: My mind instantly went into, “What’s the best thing for the most people?” I wanted to do everything I could to keep the branch running and protect as many people as I could from losing their jobs. And I wanted to stay with Envoy.

JTA: So what did you do?

JB (speaking of manager of a different Envoy branch): I called Ty Smith, took him out for a beer, and told him I wanted to come work for him, that I had a great team.

JTA: Did you kind have to sell us to him? Like, “And then there’s Christina, who does pretty much nothing. She’s amazing though!” Or was he already interested?

JB: He was pretty interested, but we had to work through a lot of logistics.

JTA: Was there a time when you thought you’d have to lay me off?

JB: I have to consider that like every 45 days, Christina.

JTA: Ha! Well I hope you told him how we’ll all go under if he doesn’t let me keep this blog. So what’s our status now?

JB: We are basically a satellite office of Ty’s larger branch.

JTA: Okay, you and Chad worked together for ten years. How are you?

JB: I’m actually excited. Since I’m part of another branch now, some of my management responsibilities get taken care of by other people, which allows me to focus on taking great care of my customers. I get a huge kick out of that.

JTA: Have you been sleeping with Chad’s picture under your pillow?

JB: No, but we did share a hotel room in Scottsdale a few weeks ago a week after he left. We’d signed up for a conference months before, and there was only one hotel room left. I short sheeted his bed one night. He was concerned I might smother him with a pillow, so I felt the short-sheeting was okay.

JTA: Good call. Smothering might have been over the top. So listen, I know what happened was hard, but over all do you think this is going to be best for both of you?

JB: I really do. I think we were relying on each other for things that led us to not grow certain skill sets we both should have. Sometimes we got bogged down with lots of projects and plans, which can be great, but can be a distraction. So we’re both paring back and focusing on what’s important in our businesses.

JTA: Do you think we should toilet paper Chad’s yard?

JB: He doesn’t have a yard.

JTA: But he has that patio we could roll.

JB: No, let’s not. We shouldn’t toilet paper his yard.

JTA: Fine, party pooper. Okay, what else do you want people to know?

JB: Chad’s a great friend. I hope he does great. I’m excited for both of us and change is kind of fun. And it’s been a great 10 years. We’ve had a lot of good times. Some hard times too. Really, this just impacts our working relationship, but our friendship is still in good shape.

Since Chad and I started working together, he met, started dating and married his wife. We’ve both been through some pets. I’ve had two kids, and Chad was covering for me when I was at the hospital while they were being born. We’ve worked at three companies together. We’ve built a great team together.

We’ve gone through massive regulatory changes and massive changes in the market. We’ve had stretches where we still aren’t sure how we stayed in business and stretches when we couldn’t believe how blessed we were. A lot of life has happened together. Changing companies won’t change any of that or change that we’re still great friends.

JTA: That’s very sweet, James. Hey, can I get a picture of you gazing at Chad’s picture on the bulletin board and looking like you’re about to cry?

JB (indulging me): Sure.

There, there, ole Boss...

There, there, ole Boss…

JB: But make sure everyone knows this, too. When Chad told me he was taking the other job, it was a pretty emotional meeting. Afterward Chad stayed in his office with the door closed for like an hour and a half. And you know that plant we have that keeps dying every time we move it? Well once Chad came out of his office, he poured some water into the plant from his water bottle like he always does before he leaves for the weekend.  And I leaned over to him and said really low, “If you move that plant again, it’s going to die. The plant stays.”

Plant Stays Here

In yo FACE, Chad!

JTA: It’s such a nice plant, really. So what’s the future of this small group of people we’ve got left?

JB: We’ve got a group that’s been galvanized. Everybody knows what they want and we’ve got the same goals. It’s brought us all closer together.

JTA: Okay Boss, I’m glad we’re all still on good terms and we can all agree to send Chad a Christmas card, but at the end of the day, we want people to send us business, right?

(James grins and won’t say anything).

JTA: Okay Boss, now go answer all those phone calls!

Chad, if you’re reading this, I enjoyed every minute that I worked for you. (Except for when you sent me crazy emails about “ideas” you had that ended with like nineteen exclamation points. Remember when you asked me to invent and build an app? Enough with the ideas already, man.) You always took time to sit down with me and hear about my life and you were quick to lift people up. If you want to call me once a week and tell me about the workout videos you completed, I’m all ears as usual. Also, send Hayley and Rachelle my love, and tell them that the office kitchen is still dirty.

The Firelady

First of all, for those of you who are still willing to read my ramblings after knowing I kind of cussed out my Boss, thank you. James was all panicky about me posting what happened, so I lied and told him it’d make us go viral. (It didn’t.)

Now then…

Somebody from corporate was here last week. She seemed kind of important so I interviewed her…

Spill it, Shaw

An interview with Envoy Mortgage Regional Operations Manager, Lynn Shaw

Just the Assistant: First things first, Lynn. Are you my boss James’ boss?

Lynn Shaw: Um, I don’t think so.

JTA: Well listen, if you find out that you are, would you please tell James to give me a permanent cube so I can stop doing this migratory thing? This is my third cube in this office, and I bet you ten dollars he’s going to give it to someone else in the next week.

LS: Well you don’t have anything substantial on it. You should get some really heavy decorations, like statues, and put them on your desk. Then they’ll look at it and be like, “Ugh, I don’t feel like moving all that stuff. Let’s just let her keep it.”

JTA: I like you, Lynn Shaw. Okay, what is your job here at Envoy?

LS: I’m the regional operations manager. I’m looking over the operations in the branches, making sure morale is up, issues are down and fixing any kinds of complaints we may get.

JTA: First of all, I didn’t even know we had regions in this company. What region am I? Second of all, that job sounds horrible because people will only call you when they’re ticked off.

LS: You’re in the Central region. Region 3. It’s not that they call mad. Right now I’m just putting out fires. I’m a fireman. Well, a firelady.

[Note: Microsoft is telling me “firelady” isn’t a word – you’re so sexist, I swear, Word.]

[Other Note: Region 3 in tha HOUSE!]

JTA: Do you have an office or cube?

LS: I have a cube with the rest of the world. I used to sit on a ball sometimes, but I lent it out to someone and never got it back.

[Note: Dear Whoever Stole Lynn’s Ball, give it back, you thief.]

But I work three days a week from home. I took over my husband’s home office (he works from home, too). So now in the middle of the day I’ll hear, “BABE!” and he’ll ask me about lunch. And I’m like, “What did you do for lunch before I worked from home?”

Lynn Shaw is Not the Lunch Lady

He never used the office though. It was just the one room in the house I let him decorate.

JTA: Oh gosh I bet he put, like, an elk head on the wall huh?

LS: Pretty much.

JTA: What do you do for fun?

LS: I like to be outside – camping, swimming – anything outdoors when it’s sunny.

JTA: Do you have pets?

LS: I have a black cat named Cole.

JTA: Aw! I love cats. Speaking of love, who is your favorite branch?

LS: Y’all of course!

JTA: Smart one, you are. Is there anything else you want people to know?

LS: Yes, that I really enjoy reading your blog and that everybody should get three friends to read it, and those three friends should get three friends to read it.

JTA: Oh my gosh, they should give you a raise. Thanks for answering all my questions! Now go answer all those phone calls! Actually don’t. Just help me move this cat statue into my cube, would ya?

What it’s Like to be the Boss

Sometimes I wonder what it’d be like to be the boss. Today, I found out…

He’s Got a Window, Damn It

An interview with my Boss, James Beaver

Just the Assistant: First things first. Where the heck have you been?

James Beaver: Well, I’ve traveled more in the past three months than in past the two years combined. I had conferences, a vacation, etc. Secondly, I’ve been meeting with various business relationships, going to functions, happy hours. And tomorrow I’m hosting an event at the Apple store.

James Important

JTA: What’s your favorite part of being the boss?

JB: Um, ah. (Rubs hands through hair) Uh…oh gosh. Well, I get paid last, so I always feel generous because I pay everyone else before myself. So that’s a good part, feeling generous. HAA! HAA!

[Just the Assistant Note: At this point he started laughing. Like a crazy laugh. Like, I didn’t know if I should laugh along or quietly leave.]

JB (Still laughing): Haaa Har! Other than that, I have a window! (Laughs harder)

JTA: What made you decide to start buying us lunch? (They buy us lunch.) Did you think we were too thin?

JB: Somebody told me it was really good for morale, and I like happy people, so buying cold cuts and bread made sense.

JTA: Why is the kitchen still messy?

JB: Christi won’t clean it.

JTA: She just cleaned it! Do you think it’s the employees’ fault that the kitchen is messy, or your fault because it’s like your kitchen? Or are you the slob so it’s like double your fault?

JB (clearly annoyed): As I’ve mentioned before, Christina, I’m NOT the kitchen slob. I reuse other people’s mustard knives and I refill the coffee pot every other day. This BS about “James is the slob” aint’ gonna fly. I’ve got a window, damn it.

JTA: Uh, let’s move on. Okay, though we don’t talk about it on the blog because you’d fire me if I did, over the years, you have had to let some people go. Do you practice before that happens? Do you look in the mirror and go, like, “AND ANOTHER THING! YOU MAKE MESSES IN THE KITCHEN!” Or do you just wing it?

JB: It’s more like stream of consciousness. BUT I have bullet points ready and a form the person has to sign.

JTA: So wait a minute. You have to fire someone and then say, “Can you sign this form?” That’s horrible. Has anyone ever refused to sign it?

James Fires People

JB (thinking): I think somebody did once. (Remembering) Oh yeah, man. Oh yeah she was such a –

[JTA Note: I didn’t think it a smart career move to include James’ next words.]

JTA: So, uh, how many blue dress shirts do you own?

JB: At least 10. I’m trying to work on acquiring brighter colors.

JTA: What do you think about Kim Kardashian and Kanye West getting engaged?

JB: When did that happen? I thought that already happened? I thought she married him and divorced him?

JTA: Nooo. You’re thinking of her other husband. She just had Kanye’s kid though and now she and Kanye are engaged.

JB: Well it’s about time.

JTA: Lots of people find our blog because I use dirty phrases to try to hook in people searching for porn. For instance, in the past quarter, we’ve have people find us by searching “hot ladies” in Google along with “hot lady at the street,” and “viral porn videos” and “can your nipple be ripped off” and “business woman sitting on leather” and “uncensored steak boob slap.” Oh, and “James Beaver.” How does this sit with you?

JB: I’m a little disappointed that people would link porn to my name.

JTA: No! They’re not connecting your name to it. Those were all totally separate searches.

JB: Oh, well bad publicity is good publicity, right? And even dirt bags need mortgages. Maybe you should start using the word dirt bag more?

JTA: I’ll try that. How is your coaching thing going? It sounds horrible to me. Like I would quit if I had to do it.

JB: It’s very good. It’s forcing me to focus on the things that matter most about building a good business. I wish I’d done it four years ago.

JTA: How do you handle it when strangers approach you in public since I’ve made you famous on this blog?

JB:  I’d have to say it’s very humbling. Sometimes I’d just like some privacy. I’d like to have lunch at a nice café without strangers approaching me. But I have to take the good with the bad, huh?

JTA: Yep. Well, at least you have the window, Boss. Now go answer all those dirt bags’ phone calls!

Why V-Shaped Mortgage Banker Will Needs to Stop Weight Lifting

You know how whenever someone puts their house on the market you see a big realtor sign in their yard? Ever wonder who puts those bad boys in the ground? I’ll tell you who does it. It’s V-Shaped Mortgage Banker Will.

Here’s the thing. V-Shaped Mortgage Banker Will is married to a Petite-Shaped Realtor, and the Petite-Shaped Realtor needs help nailing For Sale signs all over Houston for the houses she lists. So somehow she suckers Will into doing it for her, along with lots of other assistant duties. Let’s explore this, shall we?

You Realize You’re a Day Laborer, Right?

An Interview with V-Shaped Mortgage Banker Will Zugheri

Just the Assistant: Okay Will, what all do you do for your wife, professionally speaking?

V-Shaped Will: Well, I put out all of her signs and take up all her signs once the house she has listed has sold. (Pauses to ponder his next sentence.) Now these aren’t the easy signs where you just step on them and they slide into the grass (motioning stepping onto something with ease). She has the big signs with thick posts at the bottom. You have to have a post hole digger to put them in.

JTA: You have to have a post hole digger?

VSW: I’ve been through several of them. I’ve also broken a couple pipes in folks’ yards. We have a landscape guy on speed dial now.

JTA: Is it because you’re shaped like a V? Like, you’re all “Raaahr!” and throwing all your strength into the holes?

VSW (laughing because he is a happy V-Shaped person and not like the grumpy ones on roids): Something like that. But now I know what to look for. I know all about the different types of soil now. When I broke the first pipe, it was the pipe for their sprinkler system and water started filling the hole I’d dug.

JTA: That could be cool because it would create like a geyser to draw attention to her sign. You should start doing that on purpose.

VSW: We should do exactly that. But now I have a poker tool to help me test the ground before I pull the heavy equipment out. I also carry dirt with me to fill the holes when I take the signs up.

JTA (mouth agape): You carry dirt in your mid-life crisis car?

[Note: Will has a BMW to help him cope with the aging process.]

VSW: I take my wife’s car to do the signs.

JTA: Where do you get the dirt?

VSW: I buy it. There are so many grades of dirt. You can get it for like eight dollars or 99 cents. I go towards the end, toward the 99 centers.

JTA: Tell me Will, how many pieces of equipment from Home Depot does it take to be your wife’s assistant?

VSW: Let’s see. There’s the post hole digger, and then the rod I use to test the soil, then the dirt, and I have a grinder to sharpen the post hole digger.

JTA: Dude, you realize you’re a day laborer, right? Does she pay you?

VSW: I’m pretty cheap labor. But she always says thank you. Every time I get in her car she thanks me. But sometimes I still remind her that I put out the signs. I’ll talk about how my back hurts from putting out all the signs that day.

JTA: I would do that to. Except for I’d slip it in. I’d be like, “Yeah today when I was putting out the fourth sign I saw a bird.” What else do you do for her?

VSW: Open houses – sometimes my wife gets tied up so I sit in them in while people come through.

JTA: You answer questions and stuff?

VSW: I can answer mortgage questions and talk about rates of course because I’m a mortgage banker, but I can’t say the square footage of house. You have to be a licensed realtor to tell someone the square footage, so I just point to the flyer and say “It says on here…”

JTA: Ha! You just have to sit there all dumb in the corner. Anything else?

VSW (all nonchalant): I put gas in her car, too. Like this morning I asked if she was going to have to do a lot of running around. She was, so I filled her car up.

JTA: Ohmygosh my husband does that too, and it speaks straight to my soul. You’re a good husband, Will. How many signs do you have to put out today?

VSW: Today I have four.

JTA: Maybe you should sit at my desk since you’re really just an assistant, too. Do you think you’ll start your own blog? Like, Just the Other Assistant dot com? Here, sit at my desk.

Will the Assistant

Okay folks, please honk at Will the next time you see him laboring away on the side of the road, just to encourage him. But don’t honk too many times because the dude apparently doesn’t realize his own strength so he might end up ripping a live oak down with his bare hands in the midst of the distraction.

Now, you all have a fab weekend while I show Will how to set up his WordPress account.

My New Pal Sandra and the Unfortunate Incident with a Man’s Nipple

I stopped at Kroger yesterday on my way home from work. As I walked towards the store through the parking lot, I noticed a tall man, probably in his thirties, prancing out of the store wearing long shorts and a Hawaiian shirt. We caught eyes, and while I immediately looked away (one man woman, I am), he continued the stare. “HEY! I like your necklace!” he shouted. We were still a good thirty? forty? feet away from each other. Forgive me; I cannot guess distances beyond 18 inches. However far it was though, I knew good and well this dude couldn’t make out anything about my necklace.

“Thanks!” I chirped, planning to skip right past him.

By this point he’d walked up to me. “I got this one a while back,” he said, standing over me and holding out a large carving of an eagle dangling from a black leather strap tied around his neck.

“I like your necklace, too!” I smiled, and began to walk away. “Have a good day!”

“Okay you too! AND I LIKE YOUR EARRINGS!” he shouted to my back.

“Uh huh! Thanks!”

You want to know what the funny part was? Besides the eagle, I mean. My earrings were new and afterward  I thought, “I knew these earrings were super chic!” as I stuffed my organic kale into a sack.

Speaking of chic, I’ve got some scoop for you.

Are you ready?

Here it goes:

My co-worker Sandra performed surgery on a man’s nipple.

It was her brother-in-law’s nipple. What the what!? Oh yes she did! Oh, and the chic part comes into play because in addition to being quite skilled when it comes to impromptu surgeries, Sandra always dresses really nice, like she’s about to go on television. I don’t think that’s why the Bosses hired her but it’s for sure why I would have hired her.

See? Ain’t she a beaut?!

Sandra's Clothes

Sandra is a loan partner with V-Shaped Mortgage Banker Will and Hollywood Insider Gobe. This entails very important, super secret powers that I do not understand, but I’ve heard Sandra is fabulous at what she does so let’s just leave it at that. I’ve also heard her on the phone and she’s so nice it kind of makes me want to get another mortgage, just so I can talk to her.

On one of her first days here I started badgering her about any funny stories she had up her sleeve. I had been thinking, like, mortgage stories (snore), but that Sandra is quick on her feet and did me one better.

Let’s pick up right after Sandra broke the news to me…

What the Heck did You Just Say?

An interview with Loan Partner, Sandra Grein

Just the Assistant: Sandra, what in the world are you talking about? Oh my gosh.

Sandra: He had a nipple ring, and he was trying to squeeze past a truck. So he was shimmying between the garage wall and the truck, and the nipple ring got caught on the brush guard and ripped off, taking the nipple with it.

JTA (gagging and covering face): Caaaglaaableh! Oh my gosh! Then what happened?

Sandra: But it was still attached. Just dangling by a little piece of skin, like a flap.

JTA: I can’t handle this. Oh my gosh I’m so glad they hired you.

Sandra: He wouldn’t go to a doctor, and I had some numbing cream, so we numbed it, and I clipped off the dangling part with fingernail snips.

JTA (peeking through fingers): Oh. My….Fingernail clippers?! Does he have a scar? Does he still even have a nipple?

Sandra: It’s great! The scar is gone and it looks really good now!

JTA: You’re amazing! Now we know who to turn to if we have any “incidents” here in the office. I honestly don’t know whether to throw up or hug you. That’s the best story I’ve ever heard.

Y’all, this lady is awesome. If you’d like to get in touch with her, let me know and I can give you the hookup. Until then, you all have a smashing weekend and I’m off to buy more earrings.