When we last left the junker, he'd just visited the condominium of a recently widowed woman. She was divesting the trappings of her culturally active life with her husband (they = the Bohemians of said fable), including hundreds of vinyl records. Most were no longer in vogue, but the junker set aside a number of still in-demand LPs to determine a fair price. A deal was struck — the entire collection would be taken, in return for the price on the "good" records. The junker, short on funds, time and car space, agreed to return the following day to complete the deal. We join the story the following morning.
The next day I started figuring out logistics. Three-thousand albums don't just pack themselves. It was doubtful that I was going to be able to score an adequate number of whiskey boxes from the ABC stores to make my haul. The number of records in question seemed to call for a trip to U-Haul, for some marvelously LP shaped "small boxes." Was it going to take two trips? It was going to take two trips.
After getting out of the shower, I had a message on my cell phone. I doubted it was my client – she had a doctor's appointment that morning; we weren't scheduled to connect until early afternoon. The number was different than hers, anyway.
And the voice on the message was male.
"This call regards the records you looked at yesterday. There's been a misunderstanding. They're not for sale. Thank you. Goodbye."
I quickly called my client's number. No answer. I left a hasty message, asking for a call back. Who knows what I said? Probably "Blahbity wah wah whine whine why?" Then I was left alone with my thoughts.
The anonymous message made no sense. There'd been no misunderstanding – the ownership of the collection was not in question, and she was ready to be rid of the records. We'd parted on fabulous, friendly terms – we had the definition of an understanding. There was no way the deal could have gone south.
But I kept thinking back to that stack of records sitting next to the stairwell, away from the shelves of lesser stuff. I might as well have written "THESE ARE THE ONES WITH RESALE VALUE" in glitter glue on a piece of poster board, stuck it on top, and strung flashing Christmas lights on them. Knowing the difference between a good record and a bad one is one of the few marketable skills I have, and if someone had pulled a fast one on me, I'd given away hours of that skill for free.
But that level of rip-off just didn't make sense – I've had people try to get free appraisals before and the previous day was just not one of those occasions.
I hope you'll give me credit for waiting another hour before calling her again. I still got no answer.
But about an hour later, I got a phone call – a new number, this time from a friend of my client, the antique dealer who'd put me in touch with her in the first place. He told me how sorry my client was, but that she was too embarrassed to talk to me. Then he explained the situation.
Her son-in-law, also an Asheville resident, had stopped by to visit her that evening. He was returning home from a business trip. When he'd found out she was selling the records, he grew covetous. Claimed he'd always wanted them, that they were valuable family heirlooms, and that he couldn't believe she was selling them from under him.
She retorted that he'd put off looking at them for years now, only cared about them because now somebody else did, and that she was tired of them being there. So she'd taken her own matters into her own hands. The deal was done and that was that.
He disagreed, played the family card, and doubtlessly impugned my kind's business integrity.
So she gave in – had no choice really – this was a family thing, and she had to live with him, not me.
But she insisted he get the records out of the house the same day I would have (that must have been one cheery load out), and that he would be the one to tell me that the deal was off.
I got the sense that no one but the son-in-law was satisfied the situation, but that was that. The records were out of pocket. My head was full of self-scolds. How could I just leave a stack of goodies at her house? I should have at least put some money down and taken the ones I wanted! I could have come back and gotten the duffers the next day. Surely I could have silver-tongued that! Was I too trusting, or just stupid?
This is why you leave no junk behind.
Two days later I got another call from the anonymous number.
Read below for the next installment of Junker's Blues, Never Leave Junk on the Table: Enter the Fop.