How Eavesdropping in a NYC Cafe Changed my Finances

Chris Eubanks
3 min readAug 31, 2022
Photo by Dylan Gillis on Unsplash

I was in a Chelsea cafe in Manhattan doing freelance architectural drafting work. I was prospecting for work on freelance platforms, taking whatever scraps the architects and builders didn’t want. Next to me at the same big table sits a high powered real estate agent and a tech worker (her client).

They chat for a good 20 minutes making pleasantries and talking about the real estate market in New York. They had a mutual friend, which made this conversation lean towards the personal side. She tells her client that the best time to buy in New York is in the Winter and the market will likely heat up again in the Spring. For context, this was November 2021.

The client asks the real estate agent, “how much do I need to make a down payment on a 2 bedroom apartment?” She tells him that he needs $80,000, and that he will need to come up with it in the next 3 months before the market heats up again.

$80,000 in 3 Months

At this point, I was super dialed in on this conversation. How is a salaried tech worker going to come up with this kind of money so quickly. She asked him, “are you working nights?” He replied no.

“You need to be working nights. You can bartend. Everyone works nights.”

“Hmm, yeah I could that,” he replied intrigued, but not 100% sold.

“Can you design websites? One of my friends got paid $20,000 to design this companies’ website.” She showed him a picture on her phone. “Look how simple it is.”

“I could probably figure out how to do that very quickly.”

“There you go, now you only need to design 4 websites and you have your $80,000.”

They parted ways and concluded that they would meet again in a few months.

Why Am I Devaluing Myself So Much?

Throughout this conversation, I was ordering cabinets for a custom home builder, getting paid about $24 an hour. I spent $24 on a cappuccino plus avocado toast, so my 2 hours in the cafe was nearly a breakeven deal. Once they threw the $80,000 number into the air, everything I was doing felt pointless.

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Chris Eubanks

Language learner. Rapidly learning the Finnish language. Follow me for specific knowledge that can't be found anywhere else on the Internet.