Late in November I celebrated the unremarkable milestone of my fifth anniversary since I last darkened my cheery outlook by wading into the morass of social media. Neither knowing nor caring what I’ve missed, I now rely on email from readers to berate and congratulate me for some piffle I’ve written.
Even that is a limited universe since I relegate all anonymous emails or those bearing obvious noms de plume to the spam filter, being generally unwilling to engage with those who prefer to do so without revealing themselves. The others I answer, especially from those who disagree with me or give me credit for being far more supple than my aging body allows, suggesting I’ve managed to insert my head into a patently improbable part of my anatomy.
Many of those who write frequently open with, “Hey, you ought to do a column about…” I generally have no desire to take their advice, either because I already get enough hate mail and don’t need to get more to satisfy their itch, or because what they’re suggesting can’t, even by me, be stretched into a column of this length.
But weeks like this, well, it’s just too tempting to not answer some in print. And so...
Hey Max. What gives? It’s been weeks since you’ve had anything to say about the unvaccinated polluting our midst. Meanwhile, Omicron has swept through town and resulted in exactly the things you used to write about. How about revisiting this?
Dear Masked: I was once trying a wrongful injury case back in my former life as an ambulance-chasing lawyer in the U.S. My client was blameless and it was a pretty easy exercise to prove negligence on the part of the defendant. But I was counting on a lucrative payday so I may have been over-diligent marshalling the evidence, calling multiple witnesses to prove and reprove the point. Finally, with glazed eyes, the judge hearing the case asked me to approach the bench. Bending down and whispering to me, he said, “Son, you’re beating a dead horse. Rest your case and let’s move on.”
I have nothing new to say about the unconscionable unwillingness of Saint Bonny and/or Vail to take simple steps to make Whistler a safer place to live and play. I have nothing new to say about the chowderheads who clog up the health-care system because of their unwillingness to get vaccinated or their fatuous rantings about personal freedom, by which they mean personal licence. I have no hope any level of government will change this calculus and no hope the infected unvaccinated will be refused care so other people with more legitimate health issues can get the surgeries they need. I beat that horse dead and I ain’t beating it no more. But thanks for asking.
GD, I recently sold my home in Whistler. I was tired of being house-rich and cash-poor, having been lucky enough to buy a lot here for $5,000 back in the early 1970s but dumb enough to have poor-paying Whistler jobs since then. The home I built largely myself on the cheap lot I bought with borrowed money sold three days after it was listed for $3.4 million! My wife and I moved to the Island and have enough to live comfortably for the rest of our lives. The only person happier is the real estate agent whose commission on the sale was a cool $105,000.
What did they do to earn it? Got someone to take a few pictures, listed it on MLS, held an open house and brought me an offer they said was the best they’d received. Ironically, it was from the client of another agent who worked under the same company’s banner. I’d contacted five different realtors in town to see if any of them would take my house on a reduced fee. Nada. It’s a cartel with absolutely no competition. Maybe this made sense when houses sold for a couple of hundred thousand dollars. But a hundred grand for a few hours of work?
Still pissed, but retired.
Dear Still... retired: I feel your pain. Just kidding. I live in WHA housing so I don’t personally feel your pain and never will. But I know people who do and it won’t surprise you to hear yours isn’t the only email I get questioning the value proposition of realtors’ commissions and the total lack of competition or market forces in setting them.
Unlike the previous inquiry, going after the realtor cartel would not be beating a dead horse. It would be more akin to beating a horse that won’t die, is impervious to pain and has super powers lesser mortals simply can’t begin to comprehend. In my experience, saying anything negative about realtors unleashes a backlash of indignation, even if said humourously or facetiously. Even acknowledging your question in print is probably unwise. I’ll find out after this Thursday, no doubt. Sorry, but I’d rather fight city hall.
The following was forwarded to me by Pique’s editor:
Please forward this to G.D. Maxwell. I don’t have his email address.
Dear Mr. Maxwell: Someone told me they’d heard I might be eligible for U.S. Social Security because I’m married to a U.S. citizen. I’m Canadian and have never lived or worked in the U.S. and find this hard to believe. But as an American, I thought you might know whether this is true. Is it?
Dear Skeptical: Given your salutation I’m pretty sure you’re old enough to qualify for Social Security. You must even be old enough to remember writing formal letters!
First things first. My email address appears every week right under the horrible picture on my column. I understand why you might not want to look at the picture but there it is. Second things second. I’m no longer an American. Only Canadian. If you prick me, I bleed maple syrup. I gave up my citizenship about the same time I gave up social media, not that one had anything to do with the other.
But as weird as it may sound, your friend is correct. Assuming your spouse is collecting Social Security, and not one of the Americans I know who hope they can fly below the IRS radar for the rest of their lives, you too can get U.S. dollars from the U.S. government every month for simply having the questionable taste to marry an American. And who said theirs wasn’t a socialist government.
Alas, had you done so earlier, you would also have received handsome Covid bonus cheques, er, checks, from both Donald Trump and Joe Biden to help ease the sting of whatever disruption the pandemic made in your life. If you need more specific instruction, just drop me a line.
I don’t know. Maybe I ought to change Maxed Out to a help column.