A Day in the Life...
We hired a handsome, energetic young man named Mike to help us with leasing. While he was very friendly with everyone on the team, there was something a little odd about him that I could not quite put my finger on.
I noticed that he was always generous with everyone. Whenever we worked through lunch, Mike would pull out his credit card and pay for everyone’s meal. When any of us celebrated a birthday or special occasion, he would “gift them” with expensive things like designer handbags, watches or perfume. And, while these gifts were genuinely appreciated, they were way over the top.
Mike was always impeccably dressed and looked like he’d just stepped out of the pages of GQ. There was no way he could afford to dress the way he did on the salary we were paying him. Still, I figured it was his business and I stayed silent even though I was dying of curiosity to know his story.
I finally broke my silence on the matter one day when I learned Mike had paid the deposit and first month’s rent for a couple to whom he’d leased an apartment. I’d found out by accident, but as the manager, I felt obligated to question him about his unusual and generous gesture. I called him into my office that afternoon.
Who Are You, Mike?
“Mike,” I started, “I heard about what you did for our newest residents.” He blinked at me a couple of times, casually crossing his legs as he waited for me to continue.
I let out a heavy sigh and asked, “Who are you and why are you working here?”
At first he looked down, blushing. “I guess the jig is up,” he replied. “Are you firing me?”
“No,” I assured him. “I just need to know what’s going on. You can’t pay our residents’ deposits and their rent! You are overly generous with your gift giving and you’re always paying for everything when we get together for lunch or happy hours. I’m quite positive there’s no way you can afford to wear the amazing clothes you have with what you’re making as a leasing agent—so what’s the deal?”
The Heir To A Fortune
“Well, first of all,” he confessed, “I have come to love you and all of the people I work with here. You guys are like family to me and there’s nothing I wouldn’t do for you. As far as helping that couple out with their deposit, I felt sorry for them. They have a baby on the way and they’re really struggling. I have the money. Honestly, I don’t know why it’s a problem.”
I watched as he gave an innocent shrug and added, “Why is it a problem?”
Leaning back in my chair, I answered, “Actually, as long as they passed our background check and truly qualify for the apartment, I guess it isn’t a problem. Let’s just say it’s very unusual.”
He frowned and nodded. “I suppose that’s true.”
“So back to my original question,” I continued, patiently, “Who are you and why are you working here?”
Mike laughed and reached for my hand. In most situations this would have been strange, but I saw the sweetness and concern on his face.
“My parents are both deceased,” he shared. “They left me with a great deal of money. They also instilled in me a very strong work ethic. I know I’m not your typical employee and I’ll try to dial it back a bit, but I really like it here and I don’t want you to fire me.”
I was overwhelmed and touched by his words. As tears welled up in my eyes, I told him, “Oh, Mike, I’m not going to fire you. You’re a valued member of our team and as far as I’m concerned, you’ll have a place here as long as you want it.”
Our little pow-wow ended with a hug. Before he left my office Mike gave me a conspiratorial wink. “Let’s just keep this between us, all right?” he asked.
“You’ve got it.” I replied, smiling as he returned to the leasing area.
I’m happy to say that although Mike left our “onsite family” to pursue other projects, we’ve stayed in contact and I consider him one of my dearest friends. He married his long-time partner and together they’re involved in many philanthropic efforts throughout the nation.
From the book "I Have a Complex, but I'm Managing It!" Stories from property managers compiled by Monica E. Simmons.