Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Don’t Use Me to Check Your Balance

If you are into drinking games, drink a shot every time I say crap or drek in the following!

When I lived in Mount Pleasant, which was neither a mount nor pleasant – discuss, there was a bodega on the corner owned by a nice Korean family. I don’t know if they were North or South Korean. They had different hairstyles, so I am assuming South. Also, a bodega refers to a Latin owned store, but we called this a bodega. What is the Korean word for Bodega? Sijang is the Korean word for market. So, let’s say they owned a sijango.

Anyway, one day I went into to pick up some items, and amazingly, they always had everything. I mean everything. This place was one-third the size of my home. The customer before me left with no bag, and the owner said, “Don’t use my store to check your bank balance!” Apparently, the person kept taking away items in hopes of getting his debit card approved, and when he reached the magic number, decided to forgo any groceries.

I asked if that happened often, and she answered in the affirmative. I wondered why they didn’t go to the ATM. Then I thought about it. These are the people I end up behind at the ATM. They punch every key hoping to get cash, and even when the machine tells them they are broke, they keep trying until I usually say, “It is obvious your card isn’t working; mind stepping aside?”

I think it would be easier for them to rob a store with a pocket potato.

These same people end up in front of me at the Metro kiosk. They keep slamming their Smartrip on the reader and will not accept the fact that it has no funds. “Just jump the turnstile already, I have to get to work!” That is the first time I have written turnstile, and I had no idea it was spelled that way.

Not only do people check their balances in the most annoying way, but also they gauge the market this way as well.

Here is an example. How many of you shop on eBay? How many times have you bid on something only to see that the reserve is ridiculously high? When someone sets a reserve at a wishful level, they really have no intention of selling the time. They are just testing the waters. They may tell you they refuse to take less than what they have invested in the item, but that is bull shit.

If you really wanted to sell something, you would start the bidding at a reasonable price and have no reserve. That is what I believe.

Do you go to garage sales? The people may be trying to make a few bucks selling all their old crap to you, so you can have new crap, but the real reason for a garage sale is to get rid of the old crap without having to haul it away.

Years ago, when we would hold rummage sales for charity, around 1:30 pm when the crowds died down, a Fred Sanford type would show up and make us an offer on all the remaining drek. We would take the offer because the whole point was getting rid of the drek. It was already donated by people who didn’t want it, and we didn’t want it either.

I have never held a garage sale, so I don’t know if this still happens. I am the guy who donates his crap to charity or a dumpster depending on how crappy my drek is.

If you really don’t want something anymore, are you going to price it so high, no one else will either? Some people do because they think their shit smells better than your shit. Well, darlings, all our shit stinks, and the same goes for our old, crappy drek.

I am not a hoarder, and I hold no sentimental attachment to objects. I have a table that belonged to Nana. It is a nice table, but both Esmeralda and Rose Marie chewed away at one of the legs. I have it in my bedroom, where you can’t see the leg. I only keep it because it makes a great night stand. However, I would put it on the curb as soon as I found a table with two drawers that could replace it. If Nana were really attached to the table, she would have taken it with her when she died.

I had a Greek boss tell me once. “You only own one thing your entire life – the plot where you are buried.” You don’t even own the casket. Your family will be making payments on that until they pick out their own then their kids will make payments, and so on, and so on. It is like Heather Locklear and her Faberge Shampoo.

Wow, I am really aging myself. Perhaps, I should only shop for furniture with a lid?

This market research doesn’t just apply to clothes, furniture, National Geographics and unintentional sex toys. I think it happens most often in the hobby world – especially car collecting and the like.

Antique car prices over the last several years have become ridiculously inflated. This, of course, is a discussion for another time. As many of you know, I write a column for Hemmings Classic Car called “Detroit Underdogs.” I focus on the cars you can still buy for less than $9,000 and be a part of the vintage car hobby. Personally, I think $9,000 is still way too high.

Some call these cars crap. Well, any queen can drive a Cadillac. It takes a real man to show up at Pebble Beach in a Ford Granada.

Browse the car classifieds such as Hemmings, eBay or Auto Trader, and you will see that even the most mundane daily drivers from our respective childhoods are listed at very high prices. If you go to a vintage car insurance site, you will see the values listed for these cars are still realistic. That means, if you buy a Mercury Monarch for $18,000, your insurance company will give you an agreed-upon value of about half that amount. And if you do buy a Mercury Monarch for $18,000, you won’t be able to drive it because the men in the white suits will come and take you away with a net.

Around six months ago, a man listed a 1961 Rambler American Super four-door sedan with 16,000 original miles on a Rambler Car Club site for sale for $4,000. The car’s only options were full wheel covers and automatic transmission. It was a radio delete car with no driver’s side rearview mirror either. Had it been all original, he might have sold it for that price, but it had been repainted at some point, though not very well but, granted, in the original color. There were dings, a dent and lots of thin areas in the paint. It is better to be all original with dings and dents than repainted with them. The bottom had its share of surface rust, the engine and transmission leaked, and the engine compartment needed some serious cleaning and detailing. The spark plug wires weren’t even a matched set.

At the time, a Rambler guy offered him $3,350 for the car. Considering the seller bought the car for $2,500, that was a pretty good offer. Also, a 1961 Rambler American Super four-door sedan in #1 condition, which means, flawless, pristine, concourse quality, or in laymen’s terms, fabulous, is valued at $3,125. In #2 condition, it is valued at $2,750. This car was a #3, and I will be generous and say closer to a #2 than a #4. It was going to need at least $2,000 worth of work and the addition of a driver’s side rearview mirror to make it safe enough to drive in modern traffic.

He refused to let it go at that price because he wasn’t quite ready to sell it yet. When he told me this, I decided not to make an offer but did tell him to contact me if he ever did decide to sell it.

So, why did this shmuck list it? You know why, and he got his answer.

Six months go by, and I get an email asking me if I am still interested in the 1961 Rambler American. He contacted the first bidder, but that guy went ahead and bought an AMC Hornet Sportabout instead. I wonder if he bought that beautiful, all original, mint green one I saw for $2,750? See? The deals are still out there.

He should have sold the Rambler when he had the chance.

We exchanged a few emails on the car, and he sent me a picture of the original owner standing next to it. He told me how he had to sell it because his kids were in braces and the expense of owning an old car was not a good idea now.

When will people learn that their personal financial situation does not figure in the actual price of an item? After all, I didn’t fuck his wife, so those aren’t my kids, and their teeth aren’t my responsibility. 

I should whine that I have to maintain a mobile home lifestyle with Rose Marie at my side.

Knowing already what his answer would be, I explained the condition of the car and what it needed to be road worthy. I offered him $2,800, which was more than the value of a #2 condition car, and it was $300 more than he paid for it.

His answer was he couldn’t let it go at that price, and he was going to keep it.

If his kids’ braces were that important, he would have sold it and saved himself the expense of insurance, registration, etc., for a car he didn’t need that was going to cost him money in repairs if he wanted it to remain roadworthy. So much for straight teeth.

Fortunately, I saved myself four hours at the MVA (Maryland’s version of DMV, which is still a pain in the ass) had he actually said yes.

Yuckduck had no intention of selling the car, and he also knew his asking price was still way too high.

I wanted to say, “Don’t use me to check your balance!”

If he contacts me again, I am going to offer to shove the car up his ass.

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