From Shopping Sprees to Garage Sales

I am getting tired of being a winner. I got a phone call saying, “You’ve won free siding for your house and garage.”  All I had to do was pay for the installation which cost almost as much as I paid for my house. I told them to just drop off the siding and I’d install it. The sound on the other end of the phone was “click.”

Just last week I got a call saying, “You’ve won a free security system.” The catch of course was that I had to pay installation and a monthly fee that I couldn’t afford. I responded, “I already have a security system that has been foolproof.” The caller replied, “Do you mind if I ask what kind of system it is?” I answered back, ” It’s a home-made one that is quite simple. I simply tape my pay stubs near every entrance. It is then quite obvious to any would-be intruder that there can’t be anything in my house worth stealing. It works so well that several times I have actually had visitors with bad intent leave a few sympathetic bucks near my doorways.”

The caller laughed as if I was joking. He asked, “Surely, you have something worth stealing.” I shot back, “Does anyone want a turntable, a cassette player, a reel to reel tape deck, and two blown speakers all from 1978?  How about a Betamax  movie tape deck, a 19 inch TV whose picture has shrunk down to 12 inches, a telephone with a rotary dial or a ten year-old computer? ” I continued, “On top of that poor Mrs. Elepencil  has to lift the washers lid up and down to slow down the water exiting on the  spin cycle. That is because our plumbing is so old and clogged it can’t handle the volume of water exiting the washer. Every appliance in our house is broken and requires duct tape, baling wire and secret tricks to operate.”

I added, “I don’t have a Rolex Watch I have a Timex that needs a battery which cost more than the watch is worth. We need some new windows, doors and gutters. You can’t turn the 12 year-old microwave oven on if the computer is on in the other room without blowing a fuse. We need all of the electrical and plumbing updated. We have a partial basement which of course leaks. Most of the pipes that need replaced are in the crawl space.  I’ve called four plumbers and when they see they’ll have to get in the crawl space they say, “I’ll be back tomorrow.” They never come back and avoid my calls.”

Let me also add that “All summer long  black top contractors cruise our neighborhood. It’s embarrassing because my driveway is the worst so they always stop to give me an estimate. I came home last week to find an estimate shoved in my screen door. It was for nearly six thousand dollars and said it could be done in a day. Had I been home and had the contractor handed it to me I would have laughed in his face and told him his $6,000 for one day of work would cost me six months of work.”

The caller asked, “Don’t you have any valuable tools and equipment in your garage?”  I answered, “I have some rusty tools I bought in 1974, I have a battery charger I bought in 1977 that needs a new cord and a 1994 riding mower that needs a new deck.”  He replied, “It was fun talking to you.” I said, “Thanks for letting me vent.”

I keep wondering how I win all these things when I don’t enter any contests. Truth is, I don’t even know how to play the lottery. I’m an Irish-American but I don’t believe in gambling or the luck of the Irish. On the other hand, I guess I am lucky because I never felt I needed “things” to be happy. As I’ve said, I don’t own or want to own a cell phone. I don’t want the latest “i-anything.” I do love the access to information computers give people. I treasure the computer I am using because my son built it a decade ago and has done some updates to it. I’m sure it’s slow by today’s standards but I will use it until it spontaneously combusts.

I am resigned to the fact everything in my house needs fixed and I can live with them the way they are. That is because these problems require three things I don’t have: skill, time and money. I do wish I could find a plumber to get in that crawl space so Mrs. E didn’t have to stand flood guard duty at the washer.

I watch some of those house buying shows on the Home and Garden Channel. I shake my head at some of the comments house shoppers make. The buyers always want a huge house with more rooms than they’ll ever use. I have no use for extra rooms that need dusted. I’d also feel guilty about all the wasted heat for rooms I’d never use. The buyers will enter a bathroom and say, ” We can’t buy this house it only has one sink.” As a  guy who tries to fix some of his own plumbing problems I’d say, “The less sinks the better.” Sharing two sinks in the same bathroom is way more togetherness than the Elecpencil wants. What’s next, two toilets in the bathroom? Isn’t the divorce rate already high enough?

The other worst thing you can have in your house is too much storage. The formula is the more storage the more crap you find to store. I’ve found that the older you get the less you really need. When you’re younger you spend time on shopping sprees. When you get older you spend time having garage sales to get rid of all that stuff you bought and never used. Forget about stupid sayings like, “He who dies with the most toys wins.” As I’ve aged I’ve found that buying material things actually decreases our comforts and keeps us from knowing real peace. I got to go as I told Mrs. E it was my turn to stand flood duty and the washers on spin.

If your going to be a shopper shop ethically.

Buy it, Use it, Break it, Junk it, it’s Toxic

We Want Your Soul


There is one advantage to having nothing, it never needs repair. ~ Frank A. Clark


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