Three Days to Vacate…
The summer going into my freshman year of high school my father’s business was going through hard times, bad enough to have the bank foreclose on our home. Life has so many twists and turns… it’s what builds character. It was one of the most difficult times I have lived through. The unknown. The trepidation. The discontent. These were only a few of the feelings I felt while leaving the strong friendships I had made growing up and the place where I called home. Today being in real estate the word “foreclosure” is a word I hear on a daily basis. However, at the time that very same word was completely foreign to me. Life changing events test our fortitude and willingness to forge ahead. My dad chose to forge ahead!
In the year 1991, I was at Ray Meyer’s basketball camp in northern Wisconsin for three weeks working as a camp counselor. For anyone who doesn’t know coach Ray, he was the Hall of Fame basketball coach at DePaul University. After I had attended the camp a year before, coach Ray’s office reached out to me asking if I would like to return to work at the camp. Coach Ray taught me many life lessons. The biggest of those being, always leave a 100% on the floor and in any of life’s endeavors. He taught kids to be tough, how to handle criticism, and the importance of team work in building relationships throughout life. Coach ran the “pick and roll station”, an offensive play in basketball that involves a player with the ball and one without who sets a screen to free one of the players for an open shot. Coach Ray would say that if you can execute the perfect “pick and roll” with proper technique that “you have teamwork”. Teamwork like this is what we strive for in our business and interpersonal relationships.
My parents picked me up from camp on a hot August day. We drove to Lake Minoqua, where my grandparents owned a lake house. This is where we spent most of my childhood vacationing during the summer and winter months. The drive through the pine tree filled forest is amazing with the windows down and the fresh air blowing in your face. Not a car passes by for miles through the winding roads of tranquility. Upon arrival, my parents rented a pontoon boat for the day. The weather pristine, the lake like glass, not a ripple in the water. The water so clear the fish are seen swimming all around the boat. Up
there, watch out for the Muskies… they have teeth! If you haven’t been to the north woods in Wisconsin, I recommend you take the drive. The fresh air and the possibility of a bald eagle sighting takes you away to this peaceful oasis.
The conversation starts very light, a few stories about coach Ray, which are always priceless, and some talk about the camp. As the conversation progresses, my parents’ tone abruptly changes. The concern in their voice is distressing, as if something is wrong. They informed me that we no longer live in Crystal Lake, IL. where I had grown up since first grade. How could they do this to me? This is the place I made all of my friends, where we would play pickup basketball and grab an afternoon snack at our favorite hotdog stand, or ride our bikes down to “Main Beach”. I didn’t know anything different. These friendships I still cherish to this very day, as they have effected my life in so many ways. I remember saying to my parents “how could we have moved while I was away at camp for three weeks”? “Foreclosure… what’s that”? I have seen families torn apart from this traumatic experience. Not mine! My dad could have given up on himself, his business, and our family. My dad’s hard work and determination to bring his company back from a difficult time consumed his being. He was determined not to let this setback affect the great family he had raised with my mom.
The Sheriff’s Department came to our house informing my parents they had three days to vacate the property. A home my mother and father made for me and my two brothers growing up. I couldn’t imagine what my parents felt like. We abruptly moved from Crystal Lake to Arlington Heights for a short couple months and then moved to Lincoln Park in Chicago. Growing up in Crystal Lake, the transition to city living was eye-opening! I was accustomed to a quiet neighborhood where everyone had similar lifestyles. However, moving to Chicago was diverse, loud and busy. I attended Gordon Tech High School, an all boys catholic school at the corner of Addison & California. Gordon Tech at the time was one of the most racially diverse schools in the City of Chicago in the early 90’s. It was a culture shock to say the least! Before basketball season started, I remember being tormented everyday. A group of Latino kids decided to make it their mission to break me down. They would pin me up against lockers and say “what are you going to do about it white boy?” and continuously threatening to kick my ass! Leaving school everyday was like escaping a battle zone. My head was on a swivel. A far cry from Crystal Lake, I remember thinking… boy, do I want to go home!
This experience taught me how to handle unforeseen situations. It helped shaped me into who I am today. The relationships forged throughout life is what makes everything so fulfilling. The good, the bad, the challenging relationships, but the lessons taken away from them all are what’s significant. Today, connections I make with clients on a daily basis are so gratifying. I feel lucky to see clients go through many situations and help guide them through what can be a stressful process. Unexpected events happen to us all the time. A client of mine last year in Des Plaines was short selling their home. The house was in pre-foreclosure, due to an employment change and being upside down on their mortgage. I could not have asked for better clients to work with in this unfortunate situation. I felt a common bond with them going through this painful situation. The team I have assembled, whom I am fortunate to work with everyday, was able to successfully relieve this great family from their burden. Believe me, this home sale had it’s ups and downs. The bank every step of the way tried to hinder my clients from getting out of the house. Also, we had three buyers pull out of purchasing the property. The focus and determination to stick with the plan, along with my clients believing in the process made for a successful transaction.
Everyday we have events taking place that we didn’t plan for, couldn’t see coming, or had planned but weren’t prepared to handle. No one plans on their house foreclosing and uprooting their family, or having to leave behind childhood friends. Ultimately, no matter what life throws at you, the lessons we learn from relationships past or present is what gives us the knowledge and courage to make rational and well informed choices throughout life. I look forward to building our relationship with you, the reader. I am fortunate for every one of you out there who have been supportive. I invite you to continue on with me throughout this journey. Ray Meyer left me with one thing I cannot forget, “teamwork on the court leads to successful relationships off the court.”
Ray Meyer’s Basketball Camp-Three Lakes Wisconsin