Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Okay, last month had so few posts, barely making up for the previous month, which had no posts, like two months prior to that. So I'll try to be like the month between the post-less months, in which I wrote every day of the month. Can't promise I'll be as prolific, but I'll try to be more coherent than this paragraph.

I finally sold my old laptop computer. Since I had gotten my new Macbook, I had advertised the old Dell on Craigslist a couple of times, but only got a few responses. Maybe it was the timing, or the fact that prices on new computers have come down, or the economy. And then, of course, the few people who do express interest are often flakes, whack jobs or ballbreakers.

And sometimes they're heart-breakers. I'm talking sad sacks, poor souls. People you can't help but feel sorry for. Which isn't a good way to enter into a business transaction.

This kid Corey contacted me about my computer. His e-mail msg sounded like a Craigslist scam artist ("I have the money right now, I can come and get the computer"), but when I talked to him, he seemed on the up-and-up... I pegged his accent from way down south.

And fresh off the bus. Literally. The kid said he'd be by my place soon, but when I asked where he was coming from (expecting the answer to be Tuscaloosa, Alabama), he said Long Beach. Long Beach?! That's an hour away. It's no problem, he said, there's a train that gets to Santa Monica from there, right?

Uh, I wasn't savvy to the public transportation in this city, but I think the trains arrive in Union Station, which is downtown. Which is another hour away from Santa Monica. Especially if you have to take a bus like this guy did.

Poor Corey. When he first asked about my laptop, I agreed to knock $50 off the price if he came to get it today, but I didn't realize he'd be going on an epic journey to do so.

The kid kept calling with updates as to where he was, mispronouncing all the street names in his southern twang, and I couldn't take it anymore. I had to go out anyway, so I told him where to get off the bus; I'd drive out in his direction and meet halfway at a Starbucks.

He was a tall, young, decent-looking guy, wearing pretty stylish clothes. I was surprised he didn't stand out in Southern California at all. Until he spoke, that is. And I'm not talking about the accent.

Corey was from Georgia, had been in town for 8 days to pursue acting and comedy, but settled in Long Beach and already had his laptop stolen. Now he was amazed at how spread out this city was. And that not every coffee shop in LA offered free wifi like they did in his small town. When went to ask the baristas about getting internet access, he got up to join me, leaving the laptop unattended. Some people never learn.

Keeping one eye on the computer and the other on Corey, I asked if he wanted a drink, as long as we were at the counter.

"Nah, no thanks," he said. "They cost, like, five dollars here."

Well, not quite. I just meant coffee, not bourbon or anything.

I offered again, he gave me an aw-shucks-how-can-I-refuse look, and struggled to place an order. "Can I get, like, a peppermint thing? What? A latte? No, just a little peppermint. No, not the tea. What's a frappucino? Uh, yeah, I want a coffee, I guess. Oh, you can put a shot of peppermint? Yeah, I think that sounds good. I dunno..."

Corey seemed savvy enough with the computer -- pulling up the software, asking about the operating system, and checking the internet speed. When everything seemed okay he pulled out his cash and paid the agreed-upon amount.

He was surprised I was willing to sell it all to him for that price -- the computer, the wifi card (yes, it was that old that it didn't have built-in wireless), the software and the leather computer case. But I had planned on selling it all for that much, and listed it for more so that I could come down on the amount.

Still, I felt like I was taking advantage of him. Not because anything's wrong with the computer I sold him -- everything works fine. But now the poor schlub had to schlep that stuff back home on the bus.

I had decided halfway through meeting him that despite my morbid fascination with this starry-eyed hayseed, I shouldn't ask any more about his story or I'd wind up giving him the computer. And money for a new car.

Who knows, maybe Corey'll get street-smart, bang out some killer material on his new used laptop and be the next Jeff Foxworthy or a better-looking Larry the Cable Guy. Or hell, maybe even someone funny.

I hope so. 'Cause I can't help but worry that this town's gonna eat him alive.


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