How is your stuff? Neatly stacked? Stored away? Scattered around? Messy? Missing? Out of control? Everyone whose stuff is out of control, raise your hand. Unless you’re using that hand to hold onto your stuff, of course. In that case, raise your foot. Unless you are using that foot to hold shut the closet door that is threatening to burst open from the stuff thrown in there. If your hands and feet and closets are all occupied with stuff, you are in good company.
A friend of mine has a lot of stuff. Now, it’s true lots of people have lots of stuff, but Rick has raised the process to an art form. His has an awe-inspiring array of stuff. Broom-making stuff, old sign stuff, poster stuff, perhaps the world’s largest collection of Hershey’s chocolate advertising stuff, and airplane stuff, which is really the best kind of stuff.
Unlike many of us who look at our stuff and vow to go through it — really go through it, and sort it out — really sort it out, and get rid of the useless stuff — really throw that stuff out, Rick looks upon his stuff as family. Rick has a very big family.
But he is not overly possessive of nor egalitarian about his possessions. His frame of mind depends largely upon if his stuff is coming or going. If he is in the market for even more stuff, he tends to look down upon it, like a king looking down upon the groveling serfs. He is not a cruel man — quite the opposite — but he is an, shall we say, astute negotiator. When some potential acquisition is on his radar, he is not averse to pointing out its many, multiple, legion flaws. These are flaws, you understand, that render the price much much less than the current owner should even consider asking. Including his cars, his houses, his dogs, and probably even his appendectomy, it is well within the realm of possibility that Rick has never paid full price for anything in his life. He was an American Picker before the American Pickers picked their first American pick.
Once Rick has an item in his grasp, things change. The previously flawed, badly rendered thing that only moments before was very nearly worthless changes its value faster than the money changed hands. As soon as the piece in question is officially Rick’s, it undergoes … well, “metamorphosis” is not too strong a word.
He now beholds the material not as a king sneering at lowly peasants. No, now he gazes upon the plunder in awe and wonder. The thing has become (cue solemn music and get ready for the capital letters) A Priceless Piece of America’s Heritage. In Rick’s opinion, A Priceless Piece of America’s Heritage is museum-worthy at worst and national archive-worthy as a matter of course. Those awe-inspiring gems take on a mystical quality. The very aura these items assume is outshone only by the meteoric increase in their worth.
Now the reverse of his role as an astute negotiator heaves into view. Should you be so bold as to consider yourself worthy of acquiring A Priceless Piece of America’s Heritage, you would be well-served to brace yourself for intense haggling.
Rick is, not incidentally, one of the best pilots I know. In highest praise, the brotherhood of pilots says about his stature in the community that he can fly the box it came in. As noted much earlier, airplane stuff is the very best kind of stuff. Rick owns more tools, more spare parts, more maintenance manuals, and more arcane aviation knowledge than any other human being within a 200-mile radius. I would just love to get my hands on some, or preferably, all of it.
Timing is everything. I need to buy it before the whole lot of it transforms into A Priceless Pile of American’s Heritage.
Marla Boone resides in Covington and writes for the Troy Daily News and Piqua Daily Call.