The Girl Who Lived In A Fortune Cookie

#2 Real Estate Man

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Everyday is different in Real Estate Man’s life. He never knows what’s going to confront him when he fires fire up his laptop, listens to his voicemail, read that text; there are blessed do-nothing days but also other days filled with unsolvable problems. Yes — problems no one can solve. Some days he feels like Hans Brinker who discovers a hole in the dike and puts his thumb in it. Then the dike springs another leak and Hans puts in his other thumb to block that hole, then another, another and another. Pretty soon poor Hans is using all his body parts: fingers, toes, nose, tongue. He’s spread out all over the dam, which is still springing leaks.

This day was NOT one of those. One seemingly innocuous text from a university student for a lightbulb change. No voicemails, no computerplaints.

Real Estate Man has proven his incompetence in fixing most things but screwing in a lightbulb……piece of cake. He’ll handle this one himself.

Real Estate Man’s story:

I arrived at Webster Manor ,where the offending lightbulb resided around 2:00 PM. that day. Non emergency lightbulb change no need for immediate attention.

Routine day huh? You civilians, can never overestimate the challenges that can befall me.

Knocking at the door of Emma L….. (the student with the request for change of lightbulb which, by-the-way, she SHOULD be doing herself at her stage of life). No answer, probably at class.

I turned the master key and the door opened. There was, in front of me, a unique but inspirational, constructive-destructive display ( Art?). Over every inch (I mean like wallpaper) were individual fortune cookie fortunes. Each one separately push-pinned into the wall of the living room. Upon further investigation, the kitchen and bathroom were similarly “decorated.” Bedroom, where the blown lightbulb was; half wallpapered. Some space for the rest of Emma’s senior year, I suppose.

I left her apartment with the old lightbulb…..I must say I was impressed. How DID she do that? Why WOULD she do that? Questions kept bugging me. How? Why? For who? For what?

Around 5:00 that afternoon as I was ready to leave the Spartan room that I call my office (misfortune on MY walls), the phone rang. It was Emma, Real Estate Man got a rare thanks for lightbulb job done; no mention of her interesting decorative touch.

I couldn’t resist.“Emma, please enlightened me.”

Emma’s story:

Ever since her freshman year she has always saved her fortunes from cookies dining out at Chinese restaurants in Philly. She felt it may be neat to save them. She put out the word for fortune cookie acquisition at the University of Pennsylvania where she was a student. Word then spread to Drexel and Temple …all Philadelphia colleges.

She estimated she and her friends collected the over 90,000 displayed on her walls. All legitimately acquired by cracking open that meal ending Chinese treat and carting it home. She was shooting for 100,000 by graduation.

Crunch the numbers. University of Pennsylvania 24,000 students plus or minus: Drexel around 25,000: Temple close to 40,000.

Quite possible, in 3 plus years.

So creatively beautiful in a way.

When Emma graduated and moved out she left her 100,000 plus fortunes on the wall.

Emma is currently in med school, studying to be a psychiatrist….I hear.

I gave her back her full deposit.

A lifetime of philosophical, psychological, physical and fiscal involvement. Above all, a storyteller. brianbarrabee@aol.com

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