I remember, a few years before the Big Crash of '08, there was a scrapyard for sale down Hanover way. Might have been quite a few years... the memory gets a bit hazy as the years go by. Coulda been five years, maybe even ten.
Anyway, the point is, at the time the scrap-yard came up for sale, scrap metal was so low you got next to nothing for it. When scrap was worth next to nothing, Buddy down Hanover way put his scrapyard up for sale for a half million.
For $500 thousands you got the scrapyard, all the relevant permits and licenses, and 50 acres of scrap. If I recall correctly there was a house and a shop on the property as well.
So what's that got to do with pot-addled hillbillies?
Well, first of all, this particular pot-addled hillbilly understands that the market for scrap metal is, like every other commodity, cyclical.
Oil goes up, comes down, goes up again...
Same with everything else from copper to gold to pork-bellies.
Which reminds me; I had a absolutely terrifying incident at the liquor store today.
I've noticed for a few years now that I'm widening out a bit in the middle. If I could be a little more honest with myself I'd probably go so far as to admit that I'm getting fat.
But since I'm still very much in denial, and am getting neither fatter or older, I was shocked at what happened today. Even in denial I should not have been shocked... but let me explain.
For a few years now, it's become evident that as I get bigger around the middle, pants and belts and all that stuff don't fit the way they once did. I used to feel comfy with a 32 waist. Now a 40 feels a bit snug.
But here's where it messes me up; that 40 may feel snug, but give me a couple grocery bags to carry, and for some reason that load makes you inadvertently suck in your gut such that your 40 waist Wranglers want to start sliding down... there's been many a time when I feared the drawers were gonna completely slide off my ass before I got to the car.
Well, today was the worst case scenario, but it was even worse because it happened in the liquor store parking lot instead of the Foodland parking lot.
I've dashed in and grabbed a two-four of Keystone Light. As I'm heading out to the car I can feel the pants starting to slide down. I shift into straddle-walk mode where you try to do that cowboy walk in the hopes that your belt and therefore your pants are gonna stay up.
Almost made it to the car... and then I can feel the belt sliding over my hips... oh my God!
As my drawers are falling off my ass I reach down to catch them, with a hand that was previously holding one end of my case of beer. Wouldn't you know it, the beer case tips wildly and starts spilling bottles all over the pavement.
I don't know whether to save my pants or save the beer, so I'm doing this jig in the liquor store parking lot where I'm trying to do both... and of course, when otherwise reasonable people see you doing this madcap jig in the liquor store parking lot, they immediately jump to all the wrong conclusions.
But I digress.
I saw value in that scrapyard, but I was short about $499 thou on that half million asking price at the time. I tried to interest my pal Kipling, because his daddy had once been in the scrap business and I thought maybe nostalgia would prompt him to take the plunge.
I tried to convince my buddy Jimmy Lippert to take a flyer on the scrapyard. I knew he had the resources. All he had to do was sell his country estate and move his family to the scrapyard.
No luck there either.
That scrapyard went to someone else.
About a year later Lippert was telling me about how they took our pal Greg's Ford Exploder to the scrap yard and walked away with over five hundred bucks.
Yup, scrap had gone up. Way up. From next to nothing to well over two hundred bucks per ton.
Fifty acres of it would have been worth tens of millions...
Missed the gravy train again!
At least my debacle in the parking lot had a happy ending. Standing in the midst of broken glass and spilled beer with my pants around my ankles, I thought, hey, this is a do or die moment.
The best defense is a good offense. So I hitched up my drawers, cinched that belt up a couple extra notches, marched back into the the store with the empty cardboard case in my hand, and gave them the what-for on their shitty packaging.
Sure enough, I walked outta there with a fresh case of beer.
Never give up!