Unshackled at last!

Ruth Hultgren is a Sacramento great-grandmother and author of Looking into the Rearview Mirror: Vignettes and Verse

It is off! My Realtor came today to take the lock box off the handle of my front door. Unless you’ve had personal experience with this type of shackle, you may not understand my euphoria.

My Realtor has been efficient, professional and even kind in the task of selling my house. The lock box was simply another tool to aid a speedy sale. As a “multiple listing,” every agent in town was made aware that my house was for sale. When given the code to my lock box, any of them was then able to remove the keys to my house from this box and enter. Such visitors were asked to call ahead, but if I wasn’t home, they could use the lock box.

What this meant was that I had to make my bed, pull my drapes and shades open into a neat position, and never leave dishes in the sink—a tiresome discipline. An error in those areas could take several hundred dollars off the buyer’s offer, they told me.

It also meant that I did not cook fish or bacon, to avoid any lingering, offensive odor. And nothing tacky, please: No toothbrushes on the bathroom counter or crumbs on the kitchen counter near the toaster if I hoped to achieve that “top dollar,” as the Realtors call it.

At my age, I nap quite often. Not wearing my hearing aid on these occasions, I worried that I might not hear the doorbell. Perhaps some strange Realtor and a client would be wandering through my house as I dozed. Who would be more embarrassed—the visitors or I—if I were discovered prone and snoring? Even when leaving my house for necessary errands, I found it a little unsettling that strangers could enter my house. I had to trust in professional conduct. After all, these were not used-car salesmen.

I can now relate to Martha Stewart, who had a monitor shackled to her leg after leaving prison—although my shackle didn’t ruin my nylons. I hope hers is off. Mine is off now, a splendid sale of my house having been engineered.

Great to be released, isn’t it, Martha?