Down In Flames

Just as I was sitting down to lunch, the phone rang and I picked it up without screening it first. I’ve got to stop doing that. Wasn’t thinking this time. I was half daydreaming, my mind long-lost in the days when a ringing phone meant that somebody you knew was calling. Remember when?

Actually, I was expecting B to call me. I’d left her a funny story on her voice mail and I was sure she would ring back to comment on it, so I really did think I was getting a call from somebody I knew. Silly me. It wasn’t B at all, it was Austin from Something Something Home Mortgage Brokers, who wanted to know if I had given any consideration to refinancing my mortgage.

As it turned out, I had, just a few months ago. “And I’ll tell you something that’ll make this a real short conversation, Austin,” I told him, “unless you can offer me a rate of less than four percent, a refinance just isn’t in the cards for us, thanks anyway.”

“Really? Why’s that?” he asked. I’m pretty sure he knew the answer, but he couldn’t just let it go, could he?

So I gave him both barrels. “Because home prices have tanked in this neighborhood, Austin, and we still owe quite a bit on the principal balance. Our rate is already pretty low, so unless your company will offer a rate of less than four percent, or no closing costs, we can’t even consider refinancing.”

“Well, what’s your rate right now?” he asked.

Wait, what? What part of my explanation didn’t he get? I thought I laid it out pretty clearly, didn’t I? Was there anything in my explanation that would have lead you to ask me, Well, what’s your rate now? What’s that got to do with it?

Okay, Austin, let’s see what you’ve got. “The rate on our mortgage is six and a half percent.”

“Well, we can offer you a thirty-year with a rate locked at four point eight,” he countered.

“And what kind of closing costs?” I shot back.

“I’m not the loan officer, so I couldn’t say –”

“Ballpark figure,” I prodded.

“Really, I can’t quote closing costs because I’m not a loan officer.”

“I’m not trying to be short with you, Austin, really I’m not,” I cut in, “but if your company’s closing costs are typical, then we can’t afford refinancing our home mortgage with you if the rate is greater than four percent.”

“Maybe we can work out some points,” he said, changing tack. “Are you a veteran?”

Work out some points? “Yes, I’m a veteran,” I answered. “We can’t afford to pay for points either, Austin.”

“Oh, you are, good,” he said, ignoring the second part of my answer. “Thank you for your service. It’s a great thing to serve your country and so many people forget to say thank you to our veterans, even on a holiday weekend like this one. My dad’s a veteran, too, from the Vietnam war, blah de blah et cetera and et cetera …”

Okay, first of all: Austin knew I was a veteran the same way he knew I had a home mortgage: He looked up the recorded mortage at the register of deeds office, and the mortgage papers were made out by the Department of Veteran’s Affairs. Sort of a huge giveaway, there.

Second of all: I don’t like it when other people play the veteran card to wheedle money out of me. Offering a hand in thanks, then trying to sell me something while still holding my hand, is about the weaseliest kind of thanks anyone could give. Makes me a little, um, cross.

And third: He was still trying to get me to refinance my mortgage! He asked me how much the balance was on our loan, he asked how much we made a year, and he wanted to know where we worked. It’s like he wasn’t listening to me at all, except to mine me for more information he could use to keep his sales pitch going.

So when he asked me how much I made and where I worked, I figured, Screw both barrels, that’s kid stuff. I’m shooting you in the face with a bazooka, Austin.

“Actually, my position was eliminated. I’m currently unemployed.”

Crickets. “Ah,” he said. Awkward pause. “So sorry to hear that.”

Finally got your attention, Austin, didn’t I? “So you see why we can’t afford to refinance right now?”

He allowed as to how he did, and said he would update the system and call back in maybe six or eight months to see if our situation hadn’t changed by then.

Hey, that worked pretty well. I’ll have to remember to use that on the next guy.

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