Taking the losses with the wins

I think I just missed a pretty nice Lionel prewar set today. I spotted it on my way out the door. Unfortunately, a guy was hovering over it, talking on a cell phone.I couldn’t get close enough to it to get much of a look at it. The locomotive was a streamliner type, and the passenger cars all had nickel journals. The whole set had the early Lionel latch couplers that predated the automatic box couplers. So I’m guessing the set was from the 1930s.

I couldn’t gauge condition but it seemed pretty good. The price was more than I had intended to pay for anything, but I know the locomotive alone was worth close to the asking price, and the passenger cars alone had to be worth the asking price, if not more.

The guy obviously had no great love for old Lionels. What I don’t know is if he was doing a friend a favor or if he was out to make a buck.

I wanted that set. I didn’t need it, but I wanted it.

I suppose I could have offered $20 more than the asking price, if I were that sort of person. But that’s not how God wants us to act. So on my way out the door, I took the guy aside, told him he was getting a good deal, that if he weren’t about to buy it I would have jumped on it, and congratulated him.

I also told him, in case he was wondering, that the second pile of Lionel stuff that was next to it was overpriced. I had paid $35 for a similar lot a few months ago. This lot was priced at more than four times that.

He thanked me, and I left.

I still can’t help but think the set would have meant a lot more to me than to him. Losing it stung a little. If doing the right thing felt good, losing out on that felt worse.

But I have an American Flyer passenger set I bought a while back that I still need to put in working order. I guess you call that compensation.

One thought on “Taking the losses with the wins

  • September 25, 2004 at 8:51 pm
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    Not directly related, but a neat story to tell involving a stranger helping another in a store.

    We were shopping for a new bed for my son – my daughter needed her own bed, and we intended to continue the hand me down tradition of any great family.

    We went to Carol House Furniture – I’ve bought there many times over the years, always been pleased, and I feel like I have the ability to accurately gauge how far I can push a salesman down on the price. While we were there, drooling over a bedroom set five times more than we wanted to pay, a gentleman approached us.

    He said he felt really bad doing this in Carol House, but he thought we could help each other out. He had the bedroom set we were looking at, an older model but the same set, and was trying to get rid of it because his son had outgrown it. He was willing to let us have it for $550.00 – less than half of what we had been looking to pay, and way less than what Carol House wanted. (He was at Carol House purchasing the replacement, so at least they didn’t lose all the business of the day.)

    We badgered the guy, trying to figure out his angle. How many truly nice people in the world are there, after all? (Repeat after me: the glass is HALF EMPTY.) In the end we told him we were definitely interested but that we were waiting on our tax refund to purchase. He indicated that this was no big deal and gave us his number.

    Tax refund came in that next weekend and we called him up. We drove over to look at the furniture. This is not a cheap set – particle board – it’s real oak, beautiful, absolutely beautiful condition. Not only does he have the bed with the under bed drawers but he’s got a side table, a desk, and two dressers.

    For $550.00.

    The only problem with the entire set was one of the drawers had the slide rail replaced with plexiglass and it didn’t slide smooth. As you might imagine this didn’t pose much of a problem for us. There were no scratches, no dings, no dents. The mattress and box spring were in fantastic condition, the boards that held up the box spring didn’t even look bent or warped.

    We paid and my wife and I started trying to figure out how we could do this. We don’t have a babysitter normally, but we needed two people to load the furniture. Two people meant we had to bring my daughter and son along, which meant we had to have car seats. This meant we lost the back of the SUV for use. This is a bad thing.

    Here’s where we get into really weird stuff. Not only did he let us have this incredibly awesome deal but his wife and him loaded up their track and van (along with my SUV) and brought the furniture over. He then proceeded to put the furniture together for us.

    So, wherever he is, thank ye, sai. You helped us a great deal with your generous gift — I cannot call it much else — and my son loves his furniture.

    The next time you think about trying to help someone out, do it. You never know what kind of impact you might make, good or ill. And even if they end up not wanting the intervention, you tried and can rest easy with that fact.

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