Until very recently, I’d resisted the shrill siren call of the world’s largest, grungiest, and often frighteninglest swap meet. Oh, sure — the wife sold a couple of our electronic trinkets that way a while back. And we got a nice deal on a dog crateback when our pooch was still a feisty little pup. But I’d never seriously given ‘the big E’ a good once-over.
Why not? I can’t say, really, but I suspect my reluctance involved a number of factors. First, there’s really very little merchandise that I’m interested in buying. I’m a simple man, with simple needs that can largely be met with an internet connection, a trip to the beer aisle of my local grocery store, and a small, shiny object to play with. Or a ball of string, perhaps. Even a good, strong rubber band will do. I’m not picky.
Then there are the pitfalls involved with online bartering. Shipping costs. Scam auctions. Identity theft. Not knowing where the thing you’re buying has been, what’s been done to it, or who might’ve been bent over it in the middle of some unspeakable act involving pencil shavings, bundt cake pans, and an industrial belt sander. These are considerations you must take into account, if you’re considering an eBay purchase. Or, for that matter, a table at your local Burger King. But I digress.
Mostly, though, I think it came down to two factors. First, I’m what you call an ‘instant gratification’ sort of guy. If I want something, I want it NOW, dammit, and I’ll pout my lip and stamp my little feet until I’ve got it. With eBay users selling — and shipping — from Europe and Japan and Australia and Arkansas and all sorts of other strange, faraway places, items could take a week or more to get here. That’s a hell of a lot of pouty-lipped foot stamping. I don’t know if I have the stamina for that at my age any more, frankly.
Secondly — and more importantly — I avoided eBay because their commercials are pretty stupid. Honestly, with the jingles? And the fat guy in the elevator singing, and women wearing ‘IT’ dresses, and the jumbled-up, technicolor logo… what are you, eBay? Virtual Old Navy? Get a damned grip on yourself. Tsk.
Finally, though, I decided to test the shark-infested, jingle-happy online auction waters. I need a cassette deck. A decent one, with the little RCA pluggy things in the back to hook to an amplifier. Otherwise, how will I ever hear my old tapes by the Waxing Poetics and the Rave-Ups and the Screaming Blue Messiahs and the Royal Court of China, and other bands you’ve never heard of in your life?
Whazzat? Buy ’em again on CD?
Honky, please. Most of these bands came and went before you could say, ‘one-hit wonder‘. Obscure, old, and short-lived — there’s no way I’d find these things on CD, even if they ever existed, which they probably didn’t. Honestly, most of these bands — not only have you never heard of ’em, you’ve never even heard of the people who have heard of ’em. Trust me; I asked around.
Besides, why buy a couple of dozen CDs or vinyl records at ‘rare and antique!‘ prices — through eBay, no doubt, since that’s the only chance I’d have to find the one guy left alive who knows who Not Shakespeare was — when I can pay thirty bucks for a cassette player, and rip ’em all to MP3 myself? If I’m going to put off ‘instant gratification’, the least I can do is save some dough, fer crissakes.
So, I’ve jumped into the fray. I’ve bid on three auctions so far — all for cassette players. Aaaaand lost each one. At the very last minute, by less than a dollar.
It seems I was unprepared for the competitive nature of full-time eBay-ers, who I now imagine sit at their computers nonstop, clad in grimy housecoats and bunny slippers, gnurled hands clutching the mouse and waiting for the ‘Ten seconds left in auction!‘ signal to swoop in and bid the farm on the latest tchotchke up for auction. Where in my case ‘tchotchke’ is a fricking cassette player that I can plug in to record my Beat Farmers tapes. And ‘the farm’ is twelve cents more than whatever my last bid happened to be. Fricking vultures. Cut me some slack, stingydrawers!
So, long story short, I don’t have a cassette player. Three times I’ve bid, and three times I’ve lost the five-knuckle mouse shuffle to some hairy-palmed git in Kalamazoo or somewhere, who’s probably piling their eBay shit next to the mounds of QVC swag and waiting for their turn to die. Now I know why it took so long for me to get involved in this nonsense — because I knew it’d turn into a game of cat-and-retard with these people, and I am not going to be the one left holding the drool cup and the safety helmet, dammit.
Game on, mother fuckers. Game. On.Permalink | 7 Comments