Well, today was certainly an interesting day and let me just say this as a lead in... “thank goodness for a German gentleman named Horst!”. “I am not sure where I would be right now if it were not for him.
So what happened?
Well, it was a typical Friday that started out quite well. One of my hobbies is catching early morning photos of Downtown Charleston and then sharing them through facebook to whoever really wants to look. It is just my way of saying good morning to the world. The lighting was really nice and I got some good shots.
I then proceeded to have a really nice morning at the office discussing some of the Charleston South Carolina homes I have for sale with some interested buyers, then an 11:00 closing and afterwards a meeting with my wife at a new rental property we had just purchased (which I highly recommend to anybody). We were excited to remove the carpet to see the condition of the floors.
Good news, no pet stains!
After a few hours of manual labor, I then went on about my Friday afternoon. I met Bella and Ruby to ask about their day at school and then as the sun was starting to go down, I set out to accomplish what I thought was going to be a pretty simple task. Little did I know that things were about to get a little dicey.
Let me explain.
I have a very unique property for sale at the end of Formosa Drive in Wappoo Heights. This is a really great place, as the neighborhood is extremely close to town and the South Windemrere hub in West Ashley. This is probably one of the best lot choices in the neighborhood because it is at the end of the street and has incredible marsh and Intracoastal Waterway views. The sellers just recently landscaped the side yard to reveal more of the waterway views and I was eager to get the new photos uploaded so more buyers looking for Charleston South Carolina homes would come.
I had visited the home earlier in the week to shoot the new pictures and documented the new landscaping, but the photos just were not really capturing the essence of the property. This home is one of the quintessential Charleston South Carolina Homes people envision when coming here, and my job is to make sure people see that. Double porches, white columns, Spanish Moss draping from the trees. A real southern lady, one that should be highlighted and appreciated.
With all of this being said, I knew I had to take this photo session to another level. I put my thinking cap on a came to the conclusion that I needed to show this home from a completely different perspective. An angle that no one would expect, and an angle that any home buyer would appreciate.
So what did I do? (I am slowly getting to that, bear with me)
I hopped into Friday afternoon traffic and headed to my in-laws house in Edgewater Park. We were supposed to eat dinner there. When I arrived I looked at my watch, then up at the fading afternoon sun, then ran inside to get some needed supplies, then quickly exited. I zipped in and zipped out, leaving my wife Hattie a bit perplexed. (substitute perplexed with annoyed here for the full effect).
Traffic was getting tough on Savannah Highway, but I weaved my way in and out of the congestion while watching the sun get lower and lower in my rearview mirror. After 10 minutes of travel time, I had arrived at 21 Formosa Drive.
I jumped out, grabbed my camera and ran to the yard with the duffel bag I had borrowed from my father-in-law. As a side note, I am not a big hunter. Not at all in fact. But he is. I never knew his love of the sport would help me, but on this fine Friday afternoon, it was getting ready to.
As I slipped on his chest high waders, which are basically rubberized boots that transform their way into waterproof overalls, I had a strange tapping on my shoulder. It was Horst. He is a German anesthesiologist and gave me this, “what on earth are you doing? look”. He is living in the house and has been very nice letting me show it to interested buyers.
I quickly explained to Horst that I needed to get a better angle so I could get the house sold for the owners. The sun was going down fast. He joked to watch out for the alligators, which did not worry me so much. (Here comes a bit of foreshadowing....) I responded with “if I don’t come back in a few minutes, please call someone”. He laughed and said “no problem.”
The first twenty steps were not too bad. Growing up in Charleston, I had been in the marsh plenty of times. I felt surefooted and confident.
In fact, I was starting to get excited because the lighting was still good, and my hunch on the needed angle was starting to show promise.
I began clicking away, envisioning the showings I would be getting next week. Ok, I needed a bit more sky in the photo, so I ventured out another 30 feet or so. A few more pics, then 3 more steps.
Have you ever had that sinking feeling? You know, the feeling that something bad was going to happen?
Well, for me this was very literal. I had gone from making footprints in the pluff mud 3 or 4 inches deep, to sinking up to my chest in just two short steps. And yes, I agree. This was a pretty stupid move.
My first thoughts were, “ok, I can handle this.” I lifted my knee and made it up about half way to the surface and felt the other one sinking. I had made it about a half a step and realized... “ok, this is not good. The tide is coming in. My phone is in the car.” I did shoot another photo, just to make sure my mission would be accomplished. Probably not the best knee jerk reaction, but it is what actually happened.
Horst had gone inside to get out of the photo. After a few loud shouts of his name, I saw him come to the window. I waived for his help and he came out.
Remember the intro to this story? Boy was I glad he was home! I would have gone out there for sure if he were not there, and again, I grew up in and around the marshes and rivers, so I really was not expecting to sink like I did.
Horst suggested he would go and get a rope. I felt bad because he was dressed nicely and I did not want to hold him up from his dinner plans. At the same time, I was not going to tell him I would wait until he got home either.
After Horst retrieved the rope, I told him, “I am really stuck! Really, really stuck.” Remember the foreshadowing I mentioned earlier? Well, it was time. I asked Horst to call somebody. The fire department to be specific.
Horst dialed 911. He was happy to do it and within a few minutes I could hear the sirens from across the waterway on James Island. I suddenly saw visions of the 11:00 news. LOCAL REALTOR PHOTO SHOOT TAKES A TURN FOR THE WORSE.
I was mapping out the interview. What would I say? Would this help me sell the home in some way? You know the saying, "all press is good press." But the little voice in my head told me, “let’s not wait for the news teams.”
As the sirens made their way toward Wappoo Heights, I yelled to Horst to ask then not to drive on the new lawn. Within minutes they had arrived and were quickly assembling with their game plan on how to rescue me. Remember, I was really stuck. I could not move at all.
One fireman came out to me. I told him all had been pretty solid until just a few feet in. He stopped, yelled back to his buddies... “I might sink too, so watch my back!”.
“Are you ok?”, he asked.
Other than a slightly embarrassed feeling in my gut, I was fine. Relieved in fact. Thankful that Horst was home. 21 Formosa Drive is at the end of a long street, on a culdesac, with not too much through traffic, and the tide was coming in. Though I do not think I would have been covered up completely, the thought of being there into the night was a bit worrying at one point.
So back to the fireman. He said, “ok, I am going to throw you this life ring.” I replied, “ok, but can I throw you this camera first?' He said sure, I launched the toss, he caught it and stowed it safely in his life jacket. He then tossed me the life ring, I slid into it and he started to head back toward the shore.
Thirteen fireman on the shore were watching as a few of them gave me the old “heave, ho”. They only had to pull me a few feet before I was able to stand up and walk gracefully out of my muddy shackles.
I of course thanked them, explained to them what I was doing. One asked if I got the shot. I said yes and again thanked them for the help. And hey, no news reporters. Just a few neighbors had assembled and I was free. This was a good feeling.
The firemen packed up, thanked me for letting them get out of the station and I told them when I sold the house I would cater a nice dinner for them all. Even if it does not sell tomorrow, I will be ordering some pizzas for their Saturday night. They pulled me out of a tight spot.
I then ducked around the back of the house, took off the marsh encrusted waders and washed them off in the carport. I was spared from too much muddy damage thanks to my father-in-law for being a hunting fanatic. A few minutes with the house and thankfully I was able to borrow a shirt from Horst.
We then sat down, drank a cold beer and laughed a bit. This was quite a day for me, and I am sure Horst was not expecting to save a Realtor from sinking in the pluff mud.
So what is the moral of the story?
I am not really sure if there is a moral, but I did learn some lessons.
Life can be moving along pretty good and then all of a sudden, out of the blue, a monkey wrench can be tossed your way. Next time (if there is one), I will certainly tell my wife where I am going. Secondly, I am not going to be in such a hurry. Next time, I will think it through. And lastly, I am going to take my phone with me if I go wading into the marsh. It would have sure come in handy if Horst had not been there.
Well, thanks for reading. And don’t worry, it is ok to laugh at me. As you can see, I am not ashamed. I mean, if you cannot laugh at yourself, then... well, you get the point.
Have a great weekend!
PS - Here is the house. Pass it along, and feel free to share the story too.