Sunday, October 29, 2006

On Random Encounters

As you may have gathered, October has been a "moving" month for me. My body hurts in ways I forgot could hurt. (You get that way when get past 30...and 40.)

I've put several pieces of furniture up for sale on craigslist. During the last few days, I've met some folks who were thinking of buying said furniture. Specifically, I've met three different personality types and, collectively, the experience made me pause.

Which, I'm sure, you're beginning to recognize, is a lead-in to a rant on my part.

First up, I met "Larry" (no, it's not the name I was given) and his wife (who's name was never actually given to me). Larry had just gone through surgery and was looking for a recliner to relax in. He (and his wife) didn't mind the fact that my previous cat had left claw marks in the upholstry. No, he was happy that it was "man-sized" chair and a place where he could rest after having gone under the knife.

My youngest will probably be very ticked when she learns I sold the chair her mother and I bought when she was two. However, it went to a good family and I am happy to have met Larry and his wife. People like that remind you why you work hard to be a good person.

Next, is Richard...who I'll call "Dick" because, well, he was. He was, supposedly, really interested in a computer desk. In hammering out the final details (after three days of email back-and-forth), he promised to arrive no later than 6:30 p.m. Close to two hours later, he rolls in. And, no, he didn't call to let me know he'd be *very* late (so I could, like, make better use of my time than hanging around an increasingly empty house).

When he did show up, he was all eye rolls and shrugs, as if it happened all the time. I was reminded of the line from Becket where Richard Burton tells Peter O'Toole that "it's inelegant to be late." I smiled through gritted teeth, shook hands, and thought about how good it would be to sell the desk.

Oh, he hemmed and hawed over the desk...and finally made an offer 20% lower than my posted asking price (which was a very fair asking price). Now, he probably had no way to know this, but I don't like to dicker. I posted a fair price for the items I wanted to sell.

I might have considered the offer, but for the way he made it. It was made with a sneer, as if saying "I know you'll accept the offer, because it's nearly the end of the month and it's obvious you need to get rid of it." In other words, it was as if he was going to squeeze the deal as hard as he could and figured I wouldn't dare let him walk out.

Now, I'm normally a relatively nice guy. There aren't many things that get my goat, but disrespect and manipulation are two things that scorch my britches. (For those keeping score, intolerance is a third.)

I declined his offer politely and pointed out that another buyer had expressed interested. Well, Dick kind of smirked (perhaps to say, "Yeah, right") and informed me that he and his wife were going to dinner and would call me afterward to "see if I'd come to my senses."

(They didn't call, by the way.) More about the desk in a few moments.

Finally, there was "Francis," a nice guy with a sense of humor and a sense of honor. He was buying a hide-a-bed couch I had downstairs. He stopped by earlier in the day, left a deposit on the couch, and promised to be back by 4:30 that afternoon.

Francis arrived about five minutes after Dick left. I wasn't as upset with his tardiness because he had called to let me know he was going to be late. A very simple act that demonstrated that he understood that a real person was waiting patiently. It was a marked contrast to Dick's thinly veiled contempt.

Now, it took some effort to squeeze the couch into the downstairs in the first place and it took at least as much effort to squeeze it out again. (I'll pass on the obligatory reference to childbirth.) We ended up taking the backdoor off the hinges and the feet off the couch before we could fold, spindle, and mutilate it outside.

And through it all, Francis lifted, pushed, and prodded as hard as I did. It took a team effort (and a two hour struggle) to get that thrice bedamned piece of furniture through the door. It's enormously frustrating to get a piece of furniture to a place where it almost, but not quite, fits.

And then, my heart nearly broke when Francis took a another look at this now grimy couch and said that while he was happy we got it outside the house, he was no longer interested in owning it. Thankfully, he reconsidered when I cut the proce in half. The damned thing is gone...and I am happy to see it move into another family's home.

Francis also bought some other stuff and I probably gave him too good a deal, but I felt bad it the couch had turned into such an ordeal. Still, it helped move some other stuff I wasn't entirely sure I wanted to put into storage.

So, three different personalities. Three different random encounters. Three different sets of peoples with different lives, outlooks, and sets of ideals. I feel better for having met Larry and Francis. It's nice to be reminded that there are other people on this planet that share at least a few of the ideals I try to live my life by.

And, it's good, I suppose, to be reminded that not everyone shares those ideals.

By the way, Dick, you deserve to know what happened to the desk you tried to take advantage of me on. I went to move it so I could vaccuum underneath it. (There were a lot of dust bunnies, after all.) Seems the silly thing decided it had had enough of this life. When I lifted, a side fell into my hands. I ended up grabbing a rubber mallet and breaking the rest apart. The various and sundy broken remains will be tossed into a transfer station tomorrow morning.

I'm kind of glad that happened, as I would rather destroy the desk than see it serve you in any way whatsoever. You seem to think you can game the universe into playing into your needs and hand. And not everyone is willing to let you take advantage of them.

My point in this post is that I got to see a very large cross-section of humanity during this experience. Yes, there are those that still try to take lunch money from others; I'm sure Dick and his wife feel secure in the "clearly superior" life choices they've made. And I compare their behavior with that of Larry and Francis, both of whom remind me that there is a world of other human individuals on this planet. Nice people, with clues and hearts.

Larry, I wish you a speedy recovery.

Francis, I wish you peace and happiness as you transition your new relationship with your children.

Dick, I wish you awareness and a clue. I hope you can learn what it means to be this life. Rather than the next. You're not God's gift to humanity and I hope you learn to recognize it before your inevitable heart attack.

So, I'm nearly out of that house. Thanks to all that helped.

It's a big world. Keep your eyes open. Make choices that make sense to your heart. Don't serve the manipulators. Don't take their money. And *don't* let them off the hook.


Blogger Jane Poe (aka Deborah) said...

And how happy I am that you're almost out of the house!! Soon there will be time to relax. Love you, baby. xo, d

8:15 AM  

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