Thursday, January 29, 2009

My Next Career - Young Professional with Active Lifestyle

I walked out the front door of my apartment building a few days ago, saw two mountain bikes hitched to the bike rack and, in a moment of intense clarity, knew instantly what my next career should be. I am going to be a career Young Professional with Active Lifestyle.

The management company that operates the building I live in, The Palatine, is doing everything humanly / legally possible to fill its remaining units. The building is brand-new and was originally supposed to be condos. Construction was unfortunately completed about two hours before the worst residential real estate crash since possibly the Great Depression. It became painfully obvious to the management company that, despite the stainless steel appliances and multi-zone recessed lighting, there were not three young professionals in the world that were going to buy these units, so it rejiggered its business plan and is now trying to rent the units. It's a tough gig. They have to present a hip, upbeat image to potential renters when the whole world knows that its business has utterly shit the bed. Like trying to convince a girl at a bar that you're a real cool operator when your large intestine has been ripped out of your abdomen and a hyena is gnawing off your leg.

The Palatine has tried all kinds of tricks. They have ads all over the Metro, hip off-duty skateboarders doing tricks with Palatine signs at intersections (see video above), and fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies in the rental office. Some hired Google guru has worked out a good algorithm that makes the Palatine website come up anytime you search for anything having to do with human beings, shelter, or the eastern seaboard. It wasn't until I had lived in the building for a few weeks that I noticed the best detail yet - the two bikes parked out front. When you look closely, it becomes clear that the bikes are props. They are pristinely new - obviously never having come into contact with a single molecule of dirt or mud - one has a flat tire, and both still have the legal warning stickers ("use of a bike could result in serious injury or death") prominently displayed on the frame. They're also cheap Wal-Mart-looking things, bikes that no self respecting overpaid weekend warrior would be caught dead on. But if you're just passing by on your way to a free cookie welcome tour, your subconscious is supposed to make a note-to-self that the residents of this handsome building are obviously hip and athletic, the hot, young work-hard-play-hard Michelob Ultra ad couples who rollerblade together at lunch, go clubbing at night and then do who knows what after.

So then I thought, wait, I'm a young professional with an active lifestyle! Or at least sort of. Maybe my next career should be spreading the gospel, telling all of the young professionals in the metro DC area just how active a lifestyle the good residents of the Palatine live. I could move some real estate! Let me back up and clear up a few details. I'm not that young - 35. Not ancient, but getting up there in the world of young professionals. But I look younger, especially since having shaved my beard, so I could probably pull off the role for at least a few more years. And, of course, to sell anything at all, but especially to market the active lifestyle image, you have to be tall, beautiful and fit. If I had been born in 1700, I probably would have been considered tall. 5' 6" specifically. These days, that's more of an average height; some might say "short." Looks-wise, I'd consider myself middle of the road, somewhere in-between Brad Pitt and the Elephant Man, probably just slightly on the Elephant Man side. I don't stop traffic based on either extreme. Same general level with respect to personal fitness. I wouldn't make it far through the abs of steel audition, but people don't usually point at me and laugh. So that's what I've got to work with. I'm maybe not the dream embodiment of the active lifestyle salesman, but I think I could make it work.

The job description itself would be simple: find wannabe Young Professionals with an Active Lifestyle in their natural habitat and convince them to rent an apartment at the Palatine. Now I know where these people go. The epicenter, ground zero, perfect storm of yuppiedom is right down the street. There is one single point that is equidistant from a fake Irish pub, a Williams Sonoma, a Whole Foods, a Starbucks and a Cheesecake Factory. That's where I would set up camp. I'd walk around nonchalantly, sipping a smoothie or a sports drink and remark, "well hey there, I'm guessing by the nicely defined contours of your pectoral muscles that you're a guy who lives an active lifestyle." Or "wow, look at that nice arctic parka you're wearing. You must into some pretty extreme nordic ice climbing." And then when, inevitably, the conversation got around to "where do you live?" and "what do you do?" I could say that I lived at the Palatine where, in-between heleskiing trips and whitewater rafting, and after a good workout at the on-premises 24 hour spa-style fitness center, I like to uncork a nice bottle of white from my stainless steel restaurant grade fridge, chop some vegetables on my marble counter and serve up a nice little feast for my friends in the building. And then, shazam - "you've never been by the Palatine? Oh man, you've gotta swing by. Wouldn't believe the active lifestyles the young professionals in the building all live" - my poor mark wouldn't stand a chance.

"But wait," you may say "I've seen young professionals and they are just as soft and lazy and zit-ridden as the rest of us." And you'd be right. But, young professionals are also just as self-delusional as the rest of us. Just because a person hasn't ever "actually" completed an ironman or hiked the Appalachian trail doesn't mean he wasn't just about to do so, just as soon as he had a little extra free time. And if your next door neighbor tells you all about his extreme 200 mile weekend trail ride and you can then tell your coworkers, truthfully, that you were just talking to your neighbor about banging down a mountain, that's really just about as good as doing it yourself. Living a vicarious active lifestyle is just one small step away from living an actual active lifestyle, and is certainly enough to entice a person into moving into an active lifestyle-style building.

So, the job description sounds pretty good. And I think the economics would work too. I don't know exactly what the Palatine business model looks like, but I have to assume it doesn't include 60 percent of its units sitting empty. If I could bring in a few Young Professionals with Active Lifestyles per week, checkbook in hand, ready immediately to start enjoying some active luxury-style living, that must be worth something. Six figures? I think so. I would, of course, need to continue to be relaxed, fit and knowledgeable of all current subjects, so my daily work schedule would be something like, wake up late, read paper, surf Internet, work out, do something out of a Mountain Dew ad, regale young professionals with tales of adventure and multi-zone recessed lighting, bar hop, repeat. I need to get my application in fast. My biological clock is ticking, and dirty old men hanging around young professional hot spots have abysmal records of hawking apartments.


veryfrank said...

hilarious! I wondered where you found that sign turning guy.
The bike's a prop? For real?
Is the Palantine starting to look like that hotel in the Shining?
How's the weather down there. It be damn cold up here!!!!!

Dan Milstein said...

You, sir, are on a roll. Outstanding post...