Tuesday, September 8, 2009

A Cultural Experience

Warning: This post contains foul language, not my own, but it's still not nice . . . . About 14 years ago when my husband and I started dating I was living in an old rental house with 3 other college girlfriends. One of my roommates was fairly demanding of our landlord, Jerry. I can remember when the refrigerator broke, she insisted that Jerry buy us a new one. We were all pretty excited for the new one to arrive because our old one was really run down and noisy. I remember getting home from work the day the refrigerator was delivered and being shocked that our definition of new and Jerry's definition of new were quite different. He had bought a very old avocado green refrigerator to replace the previous one. It was new to us, but not brand new, fresh off the assembly line. It was probably 2 years newer than the one that was taken away, but it leaked so we had to keep a towel on the ground that quickly became wet and smelly.
My husband (boyfriend at the time) and I thought it was hilarious how Jerry had passed off this horrible contraption as a "new" refrigerator. We were also a little shocked about being given a gross, used appliance. Fast forward 14 years . . . . . I am now the proud owner and landlord of a 100 year old house that has been converted to a triplex. Over the past 6 years I have discovered the benefit of buying used appliances. They are not quite the same as Jerry's used appliances, but they are not new. I can find a $200 name brand, refurbished appliance with a warranty (that really does look almost new) and save about $200.
This week I needed a "new" range for one of my units. I headed down to my trusty used appliance store, Glenn's. You can almost always be assured at Glenn's that there will be many workers milling around, eating, talking, and not doing much working as well as several random children occasionally appearing from the bowels of the store. The store is filled with smoke, like a bar at 2AM and Nascar signs decorate the walls. I have never been nervous about going to the store, but it is in a rougher part of town.
On this particular day there were only 2 employees working. It was Labor Day so the store was pretty quiet. When I entered, I was immediately greeted by tons of fresh cigarette smoke and a man, we'll call him Multipersonality, eating some Taco Bell. Glenn was nowhere in sight. I told him I was looking for a gas range and he pointed the way. We chatted a bit and I quickly selected one that looked much newer and tons nicer than the current one we had. It was time for the employee to ring me up. When I told him I was going to use my credit card, he immediately called the only other employee in the store for help. We'll call him Biker Dude. He was extremely skinny, smelled of smoke, had long graying hair that was pulled into a ponytail, several tattoos, and wore a bandanna on his head - very Willy Nelsonesque. He claimed he also didn't know how to work the credit card machine.
Biker Dude suggested, "Call Glenn." Multipersonality got on the phone and suddenly the atmosphere turned from late-night bar winding down calm to screaming and fist-fighting angry. The conversation between Glenn and Multipersonality went something like this (of course I'm only hearing one side), "I don't know how to work the f. . .ing credit card machine. How am I supposed to know how to work this f. . .ing machine. I don't f. . .ing work in the front. This is all your f. . .ing fault because of your f. . . ing dog. What the f. . .!" Biker Dude stood totally unfazed. I tried to as well. Then my mind began to wander. What if this guy does something crazy. He's really mad. Should I run? I really need that range.
I can hear the headlines on the evening news now - What looked like a Giant Hippo fleeing from Glenn's Appliance Store today in Kansas City, Kansas actually turned out to be a tremendously large pregnant lady. She was running for her life and the life of her unborn child as a routine appliance sale turned ugly. The cause of the raucous, the inability to work a credit card machine.
Well, in the end I made it out alive and I managed to purchase a "new" range. It was a cultural experience indeed - until next time!

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