Sunday, October 06, 2013

For what it's worth...

   Herschel used to be a mailman in Hagerstown, and he was also a painter on the side. About 40 years ago he approached me with his arm in a sling, and told me he had a ladder I could have if I would come and pick it up. It seems he had taken a tumble from the top of it, and in the process lost most of his affection for it, and no longer wanted it on the job.

  I was just getting started in business at the time, and I was tickled to death to get it. It was a 10 foot tall wooden step ladder, a little rickety perhaps, but that was fixed with some wire and cross braces, and a few extra nails and screws. It was a heavy ladder to begin with, and the extra attachments made it into what my Dad would call a "family ladder", meaning it took the whole family to move it.

 Still, it came in handy several times for several years, and got us to places our 6 foot step ladders wouldn't reach. At those times I wouldn't have taken a hundred dollars for it. After a few  years, it was mostly replaced by aluminum ladders, which were then mostly replaced by fiberglass ladders, and as a result, the old wooden ladder hung on the back of the ladder rack, out of active duty and out of mind until the rack got so full there wasn't room for all of the fiberglass ladders.

  After some thoughtful consideration, it was decided that the old wooden ladder needed a new home, and as luck would have it, some of our Amish friends down the road were having a consignment auction. I didn't figure to get as much out of it as I used to think it was worth, but I did think that maybe somebody who was getting started in business might think it was worth more than Herschel thought it was worth.

  I got a check in mail Thursday. The ladder brought a dollar. The auctioneer kept a quarter and gave me 75 cents. It reminded me of something I found out a long time ago. When you're looking to sell something, what you think it's worth isn't nearly as important as what the person looking to buy it thinks it is worth.

  The politicians and bureaucrats up in Washington seem to think the federal government and what it's trying to sell is worth a lot more than a lot of people out here think it's worth.

  And luckily, a growing number of people just aren't buying it anymore.


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