Every now and then it happens that I run into a former client when I’m out and about. Some ignore me because they don’t remember or recognize me, some recognize me and greet me in passing, some recognize me and approach me to say hello. Unfortunately that greeting is often met with a blank look on my face while I’m wracking my brain trying to figure out where I have seen this friendly person who just greeted me before.
While my few remaining brain cells goes into overdrive and desperately search through the deep, dark recesses of my ailing memory in a futile attempt to match the face to a name or at least an event or location, I stumble through something that might resemble small talk, trying to buy my shriveled up gray matter a few more precious seconds of time for ultimately pointless research and hide my embarrassment.
The friendly person of course quickly figures out that the lights are on but nobody’s home, and after savoring their amusement for a while, they eventually decide to rescue me and save me from further mental anguish by introducing themselves and mentioning a date, location, or name that they expect me to remember and trigger my memory of our previous encounter – which of course promptly fails.
After realizing that I need a much bigger hint than that, they eventually drop a memorable fact that is so significant that to my relief the figurative light bulb finally appears over my head and starts to glow dimly, just enough to stimulate the dusty neurons that hold weathered fragments of the memory of the encounter in question.
After the memories come flooding back, I am greatly relieved to know that I have not yet completely lost my marbles and might have a fighting chance of finding my way back home on my own after all, and am now finally able to have a enjoyable conversation with the friendly person about a moment in the past that we shared.
All (or some) joking aside:
As a home inspector, I meet many new people every week. Inspecting over 200 homes every year, it means I literally meet hundreds of people. For a few hours during the inspection they have my full attention and focus while I do my job and try to give them the best possible experience and value for their money. Unfortunately, after we wrap up the walk-through and say our goodbyes, after I go home, finish my report and send it to the client, that usually concludes our encounter and my mind moves on to the next task.
When you, the client, run into me at the grocery store/gas station/range/restaurant weeks or months later, I have since inspected a few dozen more houses and met many more people and my poor brain can only handle so much.
I feel really bad and am a little embarrassed when I don’t immediately recognize you, but please don’t hold that against me or think I don’t want to talk to you.
Mention something funny/quirky/scary/amazing that happened during your inspection; chances are that will trigger my memory quickly. Good triggers are discoveries during your inspection that made it into our photo gallery like the honey oozing out of the laundry room walls or the alarm on the alarm or the world’s smallest gutter.
I actually enjoy talking to my clients and hearing about what happened after the inspection. By the nature of my job, I only get a short glimpse of their home buying process: I come in, observe, report, and get out. Typically I never find out what happened after the inspection, whether my report was helpful, whether the client was able to negotiate the price down with my findings, or whether the client decided to walk away.
It is kind of like turning on the TV in the middle of a movie and watching it for ten minutes but then having to turn it off again. By the time I start making a connection with the story, I have to leave again, and I never get to see the end of the movie.
So next time you see me out and about, please, stop and say hello. Tell me what happened after the inspection and how everything turned out. I’d love to chat with you and find out how the movie ended.