Lisa Lucier — surviving, thriving on Martha's Vineyard
Photo by Jack Shea
At Work is about our neighbors and what they do to earn their livings. It doesn't matter what the job is, whether it's a big job or a small one, has a title or doesn't. We're interested in what you do every day, and what you think about it. If you think your line of work is interesting, or you have a suggestion of someone whose working life will fit At Work, please contact Nelson Sigelman, the managing editor.
Until recently you couldn't swing a cat on the Island without hitting a real estate agent or broker. Today, not so much.
Lisa Lucier is still standing. More precisely, she was sitting, at her desk in the Oak Bluffs office of Ocean Park Realty recently, on a blustery overcast Saturday afternoon.
A licensed agent and broker, Ms. Lucier sells houses, but for the last 12 years she has specialized in summer rentals, generally regarded as tough duty in a difficult business. She shows up as a person of character, humanity intact, someone who pays attention, listens rather than hears, who looks rather than sees. The weather is brooding but she's happy, working with a substantial pile of completed rental agreements for next summer, a presage of a good season to come.
An Island resident for 25 years, Ms. Lucier describes a familiar storybook Island romance that started when she journeyed here from art school in Colorado for her sister's wedding. At the wedding, she met the groom's brother, now her husband — Jeffrey Lucier, foreman at Conover Restorations in Edgartown. They have two children — Rachel, 23, a recent graduate of Rhode Island School of Design, and Matthew, 20, who plays football at Merrimack College.
Tell me something about your job.
Well, I run the rental department here. We find vacation rentals for people. It helps to know the Island so you can listen to them and put them where they want to go. There is a bit of an art to it, you're not just plugging people in.
How did you get started in this type of work?
I was looking for something to do and I'd just sold my house in Oak Bluffs in 1997, through Ocean Park Realty and I thought, "I can do this." Got my license and the job that was open was in the rental department. I like that connection with people and it helps in getting listings and sales as well. People feel like they know me from renting their houses. I enjoy rentals because people love to come here. They are happy to be here. You become their Island connection. I get calls in the winter from clients just to check in, asking about the weather — and whether I really do live here in the winter. People just fall in love with this place.
What is the toughest part of your job?
Sometimes there are people you just can't please no matter how hard you try and you just have to realize that. I'm getting better at handling complaints because I want to just fix everything. But you know what else I've learned? Sometimes people are freaked out when they get here, with six hours of driving with kids in the car, then the whole ferry thing, they'll get upset over little things. You can hear the stress in their voices. I've learned to give them a day or two to mellow, and generally they're happy as clams. They've had a great night's sleep. I hear that a lot, that people sleep better here than at home.The magic of the Island. I don't know if it's the sea air or the whole Island thing.
What is the best part?
Meeting new people, talking with them. I can be a conduit to the Island. People call and say "Oh, I don't really know what I want." I know the Island so I listen to them, scan their likes and dislikes, and get a house they'll be happy in. It's almost a matchmaker type of thing.
What would you rather be doing when you think that you would rather be doing something else?
My degree is in art. That probably makes me the happiest. I don't exhibit because I don't have the time right now. That's something for the next phase of my life.