Jan 11 2009

Mistaken identity

Category: humor,societyharmonicminer @ 9:17 am

So, a couple of weeks ago I was trying to sell my car.  I had arranged to meet with a potential buyer in a local shopping center, in front of an auto parts store.  The buyer never showed, though I stood around for about an hour waiting.

It was cold.  So I was really bundled up, walking around in front of the store, waiting for my no show buyer.  I am not a snappy dresser, and doubtless looked a bit mismatched.  I was listening to a book on my iPod (earbuds hidden under my aged stocking cap).  The book was “Orthodoxy” by G.K.Chesterton, a gem if there ever was one, and as is my wont when listening to books on audio, I stopped the iPod now and then and thought to myself a bit about what I’d heard.  And since Chesterton is often so pithy, sometimes I stopped and repeated the sentence I had just heard, for the sheer enjoyment of it.

Walking back and forth rather aimlessly, I wasn’t really watching all the people come and go, I just kept on eye on my car, figuring that if the buyer showed up, that’s where he’d go first.

A nice gentleman came up and said something I didn’t hear, what with the audio in my earbuds.  I didn’t even know he’d spoken to me at first.  I silenced the iPod, and looked at him, and he said, “Are you OK, sir?”, and then offered me a ten-dollar bill.  At first, I had the brief, crazy notion that he was my buyer, hoping I’d sell the car for a ten-spot.

Then it dawned on me that he thought I was a homeless person, and was offering me money.  I began to realize that he’d been watching me from inside the store, and probably saw me talking to myself, pace Chesterton.  Briefly, I was tempted to take the money, thank the man, and buy some hot chocolate.  I suspect I looked like an unemployed former Santa Claus imposter.

Better angels won the day, and I explained that I was trying to sell my car, pointed at the ancient Volvo wagon, and asked if he was interested, since my putative buyer never appeared.  The man’s expression became even more sympathetic (verging on pitying), and I realized he thought I was making it up, and didn’t really own the car.  I walked over and unlocked it, and the man’s face fell even further; he actually seemed to believe I was selling my home!

It took some time for me to convince him that I was not one of those well-spoken, educated homeless people, but was exactly what I said I was.  I’m not convinced now that I was totally successful.

We introduced ourselves, and it turns out he is a retired Marine officer teaching special ed in a local high school.  I expect I looked just about nothing like a music professor.  I’m still not sure he believed me.

While I do speak well and sound educated (no snickers, please), I’ve heard several homeless people who sound as good…  and he probably had, too.

He should have bought the car…  it was a good deal.

I really like hot chocolate.

I think I’ll see if I can use this whole narrative as a way to wangle a new jacket from my wife.

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3 Responses to “Mistaken identity”

  1. amuzikman says:

    The half-empty bottle of Boone’s Farms Malt Liquor you were waving around probably didn’t help either!

  2. harmonicminer » Professorial dumpster diving, or how to impress the boss says:

    […] I have a problem with people thinking I’m down and out. […]

  3. MrMusiclover says:

    I don’t know how I missed this story! This is funny stuff!:) The problem is, my good friend, I have no problem seeing it happening to you :). Next time I see you at church, I’ll put a dollar bill in your coffee cup…LOLOLOL.

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