I don't think any of us here can say we've never bought anything "used". I'm sure, as well, most of us have done so at least once with regret.
My first truck was a used one. There was an ad in the newspaper for a Toyota Truck, 120,000 miles but in good shape, for $3500. There was just a name and a phone number. I was hesitant to go alone. having a mental picture of some truck seller sitting in the shop at his house wearing garments made out of the skin of the last 3 people that answered his ad.
So I took my copilot that day. He was tall, a former MP and a wall of muscle, he'd keep me from being made into a vest. When we showed up, the truck was in the driveway. Clean as a whistle, the camping shell COVERED in Grateful Dead stickers. The seller, a middle aged guy with long hair, was a "Deadhead".
I asked him if he'd come down $500 to $3000 and he said "well, no, you see I had this drug deal go bad and I need the bucks". My partner is trying not to smile. I'm picturing all the marijuana seeds that are probably in the carpet of this thing, but it's really in good shape and I had $3000.
Suddenly the guy REALLY looks at us. Let's see, clean cut, fit, white starched shirts, crisp blue pants, dark sunglasses (that fashion sense that just screams Academy) and gets this sort of panicked look on his face.
"uh. . oh, .are you guys. . COPS?
"Mister", I said. "I'm just a nice gal looking for a cheap truck".
I got it for $3000. It had 300,000 miles on it when I finally sold it, still reliable. Best truck I ever owned.
I've also had some not so good used purchases. The chain saw which made a better door stop, a $500 car I bought to drive to school that once got a "ticket" by campus police for "impersonating a motor vehicle" and a used riding mower that flung out its muffler on a tight turn (fly free!!!!)
But there are treasures to be found if you look closely and more so if you look past the shiny new carton, and the fancy sales pitch. We place so much value on the obvious, not seeing past that slight ding or scratch, that may be the best pistol you ever owned. We place too great of value on shiny fresh looks and a catchy marketing slogan until too late, we realize we elected a spokesmodel, not a leader.
Sometimes though, we look deep, look past a little dust, a couple of scars, and start an adventure. It's that giving over to our gut feeling as to the validity of something or someone, that often reaps the most reward. Look in your gun safe. Is what you treasure the newest or the shiniest? That which you prize the most may be that firearm for which the number of deer that had fallen before it were legion,. Your most treasured possession, a weapon in which you knew that the fierce heat of its holding, there in the blaze of a new autumn, would renew you better than that plastic fake camo looking one.
Look to your friends, are the ones you trust with your life. Is it likely to be some 20 year old driving Daddy's Lexus or some person you've known for many year, driving an old truck or SUV or some classic car that's seen some life?
Look at the world around you, to that which has withstood time, things carefully tended. Stop at the gun show and talk to that 80 year old veteran about something more than the price of his brass. Chances are he won't just regale you with stories of the war, no riposte of sweaty storytelling of gunfire and noise which all war stories are composed of, no ragged lines of gaunt infantry beneath the tattered flags of courage. No, what he will tell you quietly, is simple This was my gun, it served me well, but I'm willing to sell it. Let me tell you about it. And what stories it can tell.
It was there in the case at the gun store, an old Belgium Browning 20
gauge. My first hunting firearm. I'd trained on the Daisy and up, under my LEO parents watchful eyes, but I was ready for something with more weight, more depth, something that was mine.
It was older than me, older than my parents, perhaps, lovingly
cared for and then up for sale, sitting forlorn in a locked case. Why? A
death in the family, a household strapped and the only source of food
the giving up of things carefully tended?
The gun had a long history of
care, you could see it in the fine veneered finish the carefully tended
and lubricated workings. Somebody deeply cared for this piece for more
than one generation. But the gun could not answer from its prison of
glass, the ghost of its presence simply asking "why".
my finger bent towards firing, he looked up for just a moment. It was a
moment that passed with the semblance of a sparrow and a hawk in divine
immobility in mid air, an apparition of death's hesitation. It is a
moment between heartbeats. Hesitation can not live there, nor fear or
any other question of the spirit. It's a time for sure and certain
knowing, somewhere deep within you, outside of rational thought, that by
your hand, the deer will drop to a forested plain, the bird will fall
from the sky. My finger stopped. Then he was gone, like a small
lightning bolt on earth muddled hoof, striking through the underbrush
with a crash.
He was just a yearling, and though for
that moment I was tempted to fire, he had not lived long enough to
fight, and I was not ready to take him. For another time, there would be
In the years since this hunt I have learned that there is an unspoken
conversation with death between the hunter and their prey. Mors ultima linea rerum est,
death is every thing's final limit. Just as it is with the wolf and the
rabbit, the outcome of my hunt is settled there, in that first moment
of eye contact between two adversaries. In that micro spasm of moment,
there is a exchange of information regarding the propriety of the chase,
of the worthiness of the kill. A conversation, of not just history, but of mortality.
So it is, outside of those pistols I have for self defense, most of my firearms are antiques, guns with history, soldiers guns, police officers guns. Go to the gun show and tables of new AR15's are interesting, like a 20 year old in shorts is interesting. But give me the tables of Mausers, of Colts, of wood and flint and powder, the galloping thunder of guns which have fired through the fading fury of smoke into the night.
I don't care if my safe is full of plastic and shiny and new. Our lives are sublets anyway, and too quickly gone. Give me something with history, something of strength and purpose and years, that will give as much back as I can possible give it in return. Not everyone understands.
Of course, not everything that is used is useful, not everything of weight has measure.. There will be things you find that end up costing you more than money. But you still seek those treasures that remain. You may find them on a table in a hall, you may find them, in a house where they've been locked for far too long. You may find them just breathing, at that same moment in time you are, that small place on a planet spinning in space, destined to meet.
If you've reached adulthood, you've experienced it. You're walking, talking surrounded by noise and clutter, and people clutching at you, demands on your time, living your life, you thought, quite happily. And there it is. Life isn't exciting but it's steady. And like that moment in Jaws, where the camera looms in on Sheriff Brody, and the whole world focuses, it does. For just a moment. And you suddenly notice every little detail around you, the sun running straight and empty, like gash down the corridor, a tiny spider web there at the corner of the room, the sun piercing it, illuminating the empty spaces there between the delicate strength.. And you see what it is you desire, held in that moment with conviction, that sense, that feeling of home.
And you know, you were meant to hold it, for just one moment, that small piece of history, that large piece of yourself you never knew you needed. And you reach for it, one of those impulses, inscrutable yet unassailable which occurs at intervals in all of us, driving us to set down the known and the safe, and seek the possession of something rare, blind to everything but hope and fate.
Or you can just push it away, leave it behind, common sense taking over, and go home quietly to die.
You won't do that a second time.
For you are like I am, and some night when you are old, you will lay in that tent, that old firearm by your side, unable to sleep, but quiet and peaceful, listening to the nights whisper. The past was your future, but you couldn't taste it until, it too was past. Anything else was an illusion. You lay there without regret, for seeking that which you needed, that moment of time, when history and fate were held in your hand and you knew what you wanted. Perhaps it was just a moment, before you set it away, perhaps you made it yours for a lifetime, but in that moment the two of you were joined, it was grace.
A need so necessary, part of the history that remains.