So, there I was, putting six million miles on my car, driving all over the place yesterday buying used snowboard boots. You see, we have a thirteen-year-old, Son Number Three.
The next time you come across a thirteen-year-old boy, have them sit down for a few minutes and observe their feet. You can actually see them growing. If you can keep them still long enough, you’ll witness their toes popping right out the front of the pair of sneakers their parents bought a week ago.
Over this past year and a half I have been slowly but surely outfitting all three boys with boards, boots, and helmets so that I never have to fill out another ski rental form, hopefully for the rest of my life. If you are willing to do the searching, and you get lucky, you can get almost brand-new gear for less than a few rental fees.
Yesterday was going well, and I was able to score one pair of boots that will fit Son Number Three now, and one pair that will fit him fifteen minutes from now. I was back home in the afternoon and very tired of driving. I plopped down on the couch and got on Facebook Marketplace one last time to check the listing on a pair of his old boots I was selling, that his growing toes, luckily, had not rendered useless.
Then I saw a listing I hadn’t seen that morning.
“$40, Auburn, CA. K2 snowboard, Salomon bindings, size 11.5 boots, helmet, gloves.”
Huh? $40? For which thing? He’s listing everything at once. For $40? That can’t be right. Let me read that again…
OK, so it shows a picture of all the stuff. The boots are even strapped into the bindings… it isn’t saying anything about separate sales. Just lists everything and says $40…
This can’t be right… Let me just text this guy… and then I saw it. “Listed 26 minutes ago.”
Oh, holy crap! This is brand new. This just showed up. No one has seen it yet. This could be for real!
Auburn is 18 miles from my house, right up I-80.
Me on Facebook messaging app – “Hi Larry, is this package still available?”
Immediate response from Larry, which is unheard of on Facebook Marketplace – “Yes.”
OK, OK, play it cool, man. Don't spook him... “Great. Is there any chance you're available right now? I happen to have some time right now and can jump in the car right now.”
I would have left my own open-heart surgery to get in the car. For those of you who don’t ski or snowboard, allow me to explain. What I was looking at in the picture was no less than $1000 worth of gear, purchased new. Sold used at reasonable prices on Facebook Marketplace, it was anywhere from $200 to $400 worth of gear.
I didn’t even want the snowboard. I wanted the bindings, maybe, but it was really just the principle of the whole thing. And if the boots really were a men’s 11.5, Son Number Three would probably be able to use them sometime next week.
I hit send on the text and then endured five minutes of agony.
Larry – “Yes, let me know when you're getting in the car and I'll text you my address.”
Why the hell wouldn’t you just tell me your address now?!? OK, OK, remain calm. Play it cool…
Me – [already in the car and doing 90 mph toward Auburn] “OK, great. Just getting in the car now. What's your address? No big deal. It's all good. Everything is cool and casual. Totally all good and cool.”
Larry – [sends me address]
Me – [has minor in-car early celebration dance-a-thon as I type the address into Google maps while punching it up past the triple-digit mark.] Kids, don’t try this at home, but I honestly figured if I got pulled over, I could show the cop what was happening and probably get a code-three police escort the rest of the way.
Eighteen miles and three minutes later I slid around the corner onto Larry’s street and then forced myself to slow down and drive like everything was cool. I pulled up to Larry’s house very calmly and casually, and did my best not to sprint to the door.
Larry came out of the house to meet me, carrying everything that was in the picture, all hooked together in one big bundle. Sure enough, it was a K2 snowboard ($500 new), big enough for Number Three to grow into, Salomon bindings ($300) that were perfect for me, Burton Moto boots ($250) that really were a men’s 11.5, an XL helmet ($100) that will actually fit one of our XL heads, and a pair of Burton gloves ($40), just for fun.
Stay calm. Everything is cool…
“This looks great, Larry. I think this will work for my youngest son.”
“Well, it was my son’s stuff, but he shattered his heel jumping off the roof of a church,” said Larry, with some obvious residual disgust regarding the incident still showing on his face.
“Wow, no kidding.” Your son sounds smart…
“Yep, so he hasn’t used any of it in a few years.”
“Oh, wow, that’s too bad.” Your son isn’t home right now, is he? He can’t be OK with this price…
“I don’t know too much about this stuff,” said Larry, “but it all looks like it will still work for your son.”
“Yep, I think it will.” Deep breaths. Remain calm…
**moment of truth** “So, you said $40?” I asked, very cool, calm, and casual.
“Yep,” said Larry.
Me, reaching into my pocket while trying not to scream, “Holy crap!”
“Here you go.” OK, well, I should go before your son hobbles out here swinging a crutch and yelling NOOOOOO!!!
“We’re actually moving to North Carolina soon,” said Larry.
OK, great. Please just take these two twenties from me so I can run to my car and drive away before anyone inside your house realizes what you’ve done... “Wow. Good for you. Good luck with the move and safe travels.”
“Thanks,” said Larry, claiming his prize money. “You too.”
My travels will be a lot safer once I’m done sliding out of your neighborhood and back on the freeway and I’m sure your son isn’t chasing after me… “Thanks. I’d better get back. Take care.”
Just walk casually back to the car… Don’t run… Be cool… OK, start the car…
[sound of my screeching tires]
What a thrill! I think I finally understand the extreme couponing phase my wife went through a long time ago, when we ended up with twenty-six bottles of ranch dressing for seventeen cents. It wasn’t that we needed any ranch dressing, it was that it only cost seventeen cents. She knew how much it would cost retail and simply couldn’t leave that ranch dressing on the shelf.
I get it now, honey! And you’ll be happy to know the boys are all set for this winter.
Assuming we can keep them off the church roof.
See you soon,
Copyright © 2021 Marc Schmatjen
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