There it was again.
That line Iíd written in my pocket calendar, under the "Things To
Do" section: "Take Real Estate Exam."
It had crept up to the Number One
position, meaning everything else had eventually been done and erased from
the list. But month after month I would look at "Take Real Estate
Exam" and conveniently ignore it.
This wasnít the original test.
I have held a real estate brokerís license for about 16 years. And under
California law, every four years all licensees must take 45 hours of
continuing education in the real estate field and then pass a short exam
which tests their waning knowledge.
So every four years, I would find one
of those home-study correspondence schools where you pay your money and
get a degree. Somehow they get accredited by the Department of Real
Estate, convincing some bureaucrat that their at-home students were
spending 45 hours studying.
In general, I would spend about
1/45th of what was expected. Iíd pass the final examination,
which was all that mattered, primarily because it was effectively an
"open-book" exam. And Iíd have my license renewed for another
But thereís something wrong
with this picture. Your first guess might be that I am a lazy conniving
manipulator looking for the easy way out at the expense of innocent
And you would be right, except
for one minor little point: I am not in the real estate field.
Moving on, you might ask what I
am doing with a real estate brokerís license. And the answer is simple:
Iím keeping my options open.
Any moment now I may drop
everything Iím doing and open a real estate office. While the changes of
my doing so are about one in 2 billion, you never know. Thatís why I
continued to keep my license and pay the fees.
I even saved some money once or
twice by listing my own house for sale and saving half the commission. But
that was in the early Ď80s when Charles Manson could have listed his
house and had a line of buyers outside his door. And besides, you donít
need a license to sell your own property.
So basically, I spent 16 years
with a license that was going nowhere. But the option to become Coldwell/Banker/Hoppe
was available, and that was all that mattered.
Obviously, I have trouble closing
doors. In general, I think the philosophy of keeping your options open is
an excellent one, but problems occur when it is taken to extremes (just
ask my seven current wives).
At some point, I have to learn to let
go. And as I looked at the "Take Real Estate Exam" month after
month, I realized the time was now.
Some shallow-minded real estate experts
might note that the state has cracked down on the final exams, no longer
allowing Ďopen-book" tests. While that may be true, it had little
to do with my decision. I had breezed through the chapter quizzes without
opening a book, why not the final exam?
So what if the correspondence school
didnít correct or grade the quizzes, meaning I could take wild guesses
for each question. Iím certain my pattern of C,A,D,D,B,A on the
multiple-choice tests was a clear winner.
No, my decision to not take the final
exam, thereby relinquishing my license, was due to a general philosophy
change in my life. As the years pile on, itís time to reluctantly close
some doors. Real estate is a field that has taken me nowhere in the past
and shows no signs of leading me into the future.
The Department of Real Estate has done
what they set out to do. By requiring continuing education of its
licensees, they were trying to weed out the dregs of the industry who were
contributing nothing. Guys like me.
I held on for years, slithering under
the floorboards, finding ways to escape their cleansing actions. But the
time has come to surrender, knowing it was a valiant but futile effort. I
will now reach over and draw a line through Number One, "Take Real
Estate Exam" in my pocket calendar.
There. Itís done. My license
will now be gone. I will never be the head of a multi-billion dollar real
Itís time to move on. My new
philosophy of closing doors instead of leaving them wide open will serve
And thatís exactly how I felt
until I saw what was Number Two on my list of Things To Do: "Get a