Her calls come from a private number, and she begins by telling me that she has received my spammy crappy junk mail and she wants it to stop. She says I am a tree-killer, a gentrifier, that I am the worst kind of scum, that she’s never selling, and that I should go f&*k myself.

She’s righteously angry about the direct-to-door mailers I send every month. These are oversized postcards sent in batches to addresses – not people’s names. They announce a sale or invite a conversation, and are relatively innocuous. But they are nevertheless “junk mail” as she astutely asserts. 

Here’s why I send these cards: Every week I witness situations where home sellers or buyers are not being served well by the agent they’ve chosen. Agents who are licensed but don’t have a professional practice. He just happens to live next door to a house that needs selling, or she’s a family member who just got her license in Stockton and figures why not sell in San Francisco where prices are high.

By contrast, I have a three-decade practice, and nearly all my business comes through referrals from people who are pleased by the work I do for them. They recommend me to their friends and colleagues. They explain that I am devoted to my clients’ progress. They know I’m not just in it for the money.

There are plenty of other home sellers and buyers (and renters!) in San Francisco who could really benefit from an ally like me. They deserve a compassionate and skilled agent to help them through their real estate transitions. 

But how can people find me if I don’t promote myself? I’m not attempting to hurt or swindle or push. I’m doing some simple marketing. (Yes, there is recycled paper being used. I try to make up for that in other ways – going paperless with much of my work, donating to environmental concerns, reducing my personal footprint.) 

By sending postcards, I make myself a target. I’m not anonymous like the people at Bed, Bath and Beyond. Or Safeway. Or Target. I’m an actual person with a phone number, so it’s easy to contact me and complain. So much about real estate prices, homelessness, high rents and life in San Francisco– frankly – sucks. So, who you gonna call when you need to vent? A Realtor! (In this way, I am performing a valuable public service.)

If my caller could meet me, she might see that I am – in fact – an engaged and compassionate human being. She might learn about the free workshops I lead for senior citizens at the YMCA. She might discover that I care for elderly relatives, that I have raised two children (who are good citizens and want to make the world a better place), that I accompany friends to chemotherapy, that I help colleagues through divorces, that I surprise kind strangers with gifts of honey or soup or handwritten expressions of gratitude.

She might see that I, too, am a person who suffers and has problems of her own. She might even understand that just because I sell real estate, I’m not evil or greedy or necessarily wealthy. I could be her friend.

I am so sorry to make her mad. I’d apologize personally if she’d allow it. But until that day comes, I have empathy for anyone who wants me to go f*&k myself. As Mark Twain wrote, “Anger is an acid that can do more harm to the vessel in which it is stored than to anything on which it is poured.”

Photo Credit: Siavash Ghanbari 

Cynthia Cummins is the founder of Kindred SF Homes and has been serving homeowners and homebuyers for 3 decades. For information on San Francisco Bay Area real estate visit KindredSFhomes.com. For my writing and mindfulness blog, visit WildHeartWriting.org.