The Old Man and the Camaro

29 08 2010

Something interesting happened recently as I was making my weekly pilgrimage to the local landfill.  We live way out in the country and private trash pick up service costs about $30 a month.  Since we recycle and put most of our kitchen waste in the compost bin, we only have a couple of bags of trash a week.  It just didn’t seem like money well spent so I combine my dump run with any other little errands that I can in order to economize on the twelve mile drive into the county seat.

Along the way, I saw that someone had a fire engine red Camaro parked out by the highway–it was for sale.  I knew it was a mid to late 1960s model, and from my 60-miles-an-hour inspection looked to be in good shape.

Like so many boomers I am now at the point in my life where I could buy a toy like the Camaro in question without having to go borrow the money or sell a kidney.  We all know there is nothing cooler than some fat and bald old fart driving a really cool muscle car, right?

After I made my deposit at the landfill and checked off the other items on my list–I am also at the age that if I don’t make a written list my efforts to economize are for naught because I will invariably forget something trivial like paying the telephone bill or going to the doctor’s office to get blood drawn.  The really important stuff like buying beer or seeing what new varieties of garden seeds are on the shelves at the local hardware store always stay at the forefront of my memory–I decided that I would stop and see what the guy was asking for the Camaro.

I have never been a big fan of Cameros.  I don’t have anything against them but the Chevelles and Corvettes were what always got me hot and bothered.  Still, this car was from my glory days and I wanted to see how it looked.

As I pulled up the driveway, I saw two men standing there having a conversation.  I could tell even before I got out of the car that they were posturing themselves physically; they must be sizing one another up in preparation to haggle over the Camaro.

As I approached them I was a little hesitant because I didn’t want to queer the deal for either one of them.  After all, I knew I was just a looker, not a buyer.  Apparently, my approach offered one the the men, who I later learned was the seller, a chance to break off the conversation as he greeted me.

Cautiously, I inserted myself into the conversation with something like, “I’ll bet you guys are talking about the Camaro, right?”

Duh!  I always was good about sensing things like that.

The seller replied in the affirmative and said, “Are you interested?”  Talk about all sorts of ways to interpret and respond to that question.

I didn’t give him a direct answer but rather asked what model was it; I was thinking 1968.

“It’s a 1967.  It’s about 80% restored.”

“What are you asking for it?”

“$10,900.  Another $5000 and it should be in perfect condition.  There needs to be some body work done.”

Apparently, the man who I assumed had been negotiating with the seller as I arrived reached his breaking point.  He unleashed a diatribe emphasizing his expertise with restoring muscle cars and how this Camaro had so many problems a person would be crazy to buy it at that price.

All I could think was, “Slow down, dude.  I’m not going to start a bidding war.”

I honestly thought that was his fear; boy, was I ever wrong.

After the man finished pointing out all the problems with the Camaro he started a rant on what the hell is wrong with cars today and how they are all crap.

Finally, after the seller and I did not take the bait and just stood there for at least five minutes, the guy ran out of wind and left.

As he was pulling out onto the highway, he stopped, got out of his vehicle, walked around the Camaro shaking his head before going on his way.  Oh, I guess I should interject that he was driving an old, rust and primer colored Ford Ranger pickup.  I guess he was in the process of restoring that as well.

As I turned back to the seller, his whole expression had changed.  He was relaxed; almost mellow.  He said, “I don’t know you but was I ever glad that you pulled up.  That guy was busting my chops about my Camaro for at least twenty minutes before you pulled up.”

“You are more patient than I would have been.” I replied.

He explained that normally he would not have put up with it but he figured the guy was just using it as a tactic to whittle down the price.

“I figured out that was not his game, though; he never asked me the price.  I think he’s just one of those guys who gets some sort of warped pleasure out of complaining about everything.” the seller postulated.

I said, “I guess there are people in this world who would gripe if you hung them with a new rope.”

We both laughed and talked about the Camaro.  I think the seller knew I was not a buyer and I knew he was not going to try and sell it to me.  We just enjoyed the conversation and never missed the grumpy old man.

However, I have not been able to get the old man out of my mind.  Is a person born with a genetic tendency towards a certain way of viewing the world?  What were the old man’s parents like?  Did they see the world as a place filled with obstacles rather than opportunities?  Were they the type of people who not only saw the glass half empty but also saw the glass as being cracked, chipped and dirty?

I have known people like the old man my entire life (stuff for another blog). Does the act of pointing out what is wrong make them feel better about themselves or is it actually the only way they see the world around them.  Of course, on the opposite end of the scale are people who see nothing wrong with anything.  At least those people don’t rain on every damn parade they can find.

It seems to me that the Buddhists have it right when they recommend “The Middle Path”.





6 responses

27 11 2010
rachat de credit

Man, really want to know how can you be that smart, lol…great read, thanks.

1 12 2010

Thanks for your kind words. I think the only way to get smart is to be stupid for a long time and then figure out that it is not working for you. At least, that is how I got to the point I am at in life.


21 01 2011
Beth Morgan Crowe

This blog really just catches the essence of “Mr. Wright” to me…LOVE it! You always have had a more Eastern approach to life, not that you don’t posess some of those “in your face” American attributes when they’re necessary but you seem to just…flow…in the Eastern thought patterns. One of the things you spurred in me (possibly unintentionally) was something I call “Truth over Answers”…I think the American tendency is to make a bold statement that turns heads (Make a better life for yourself) while the Eastern tendency is to ask a question (Can you have a better life?)…which can be much more provocative…The *truth* of discovering life everyday and living it past the regrets, with the personal flaws, and beyond the downright screw-ups is so much more valuable to me than a claim to a neat, tidy and CONTRIVED answer to how it should be done.
Thanks for the story and the reminder (intentional or not) that life is done better down the middle path…
Oh, and I no longer see the glass half empty or half full (because that’s circumstantial and fluctuates for me) I’ve just decided to change the shape of my glass…because, then, even on day when I’m seeing half empty, the shape of my glass/life at least looks unique and valuable in my eyes. 😀 It’s okay, you can laugh at me and, what may be, my delusional metaphorical tendencies.
Btw, your blog = most unexpected blessing of the new year…
Life to you!

21 01 2011

You make me proud, Grasshopper.

You may not be old enough to catch that allusion.


23 01 2011
Beth Morgan Crowe

“Take the pebble from my hand”???

Those words were a gift…you probably couldn’t have given me anything more valuable…
So appreciative of the very active hand you had in making me more than a student of academia…you spurred me to be a student of life and all its discoverable truths. I look forward to whatever thoughts, dialogue, or discoveries might be forthcoming with the reentry of Mr. Wright in my life (and, in all humility, vise-versa)…
Always did enjoy a good tete-a-tete with you…

24 01 2011

I am impressed that you know the context of my comment.

Of course, that is not the first time you have impressed me.


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