So it was Saturday morning, and I was barely awake after a long night of drinking. I had my bedroom window open since it was hotter than Satan’s asshole now that summer is on the way. I here the faint sound of bottles tapping together and hope that some one is cleaning up the mess that is strewn about my apartment. I then realized the sound was coming from outside.
I’m not sure if what happened next was real, but I thought I heard “E-Rokk…come out to plaaa-ay” over the clinking bottles, but then I shook it off thinking that my life couldn’t be as cool as the Warriors. I decided that I was going to get out of bed any how and get a shower. When I got out of the shower, my cousin had showed up and wanted to know if I wanted to go out to some of the pawn shops with him.
When I think of pawn shops I usually think of places were people with crushed dreams go to sell what little they have left to buy drugs or pay the rent. I mean where else are a single screwdriver and a bent butter knife acceptable form of currency? My hopes were high when we pulled into the parking lot of the first shop and we witnessed the tail end of a sting/drug bust as a plain clothes cop was taking down a perp in the parking lot and four uniformed officers came charging around the corner. I couldn’t help but thinking this was going to be a poor man’s Disneyland. To further explain the potential greatness of this place it was sandwiched between a Daylabor office and a liquor store that had a sign out front saying “We cash Daylabor checks.”
The happiness that was flowing through me could have been from the excitement of wondering what treasures lie in such a wonderful location, or perhaps it was just the effect of the Mentholmint schnapps I had been drinking on since I woke up. Either way once we parked and locked the vehicle up tighter than Alcatraz we proceeded inside. As soon as we entered the door I knew exactly where I was, those earthy aromas, those shady folks walking around looking as if they just smothered their own grandmothers to get the old biddy’s jewelery, the collections of crap that you would never consider buying at a yard sale/swapmeet/flea market yet some how here it was O.K. Here…at the pawn shop.
Unfortunately my childlike wonder and hope was soon crushed. What the hell has happened to pawn shops? I remember a time when I could buy myself a RolAX watch, some Oastly sunglasses and a pair of Mike: Chair Gordon’s all for under $20, then I could buy me some video games no one ever heard of stereo equipment that had probably been stolen out of my car in the amount of time I had been in the pawn shop. Shit was cheap. Now however it is a completely different horse.The shop was charging almost retail for this used garbage. Suddenly the pawn shop had lost its charm, no worries though, there are only about two dozen pawn shops in town.
The next pawn broker we went too was actually directly across the street from the first one. I was super excited again because the name of the shop actually included the words “pawn broker” and in my experience that usually means there is a little foreign guy in there behind a cage who really doesn’t want to have to hear your shit. As we walked in a little more of my spirit was crushed as I realized that there was alas…no cage. The shop did redeem itself a little as it did offer the sale of cowboy hats.
Let me go a little more into detail here. It sold pre-worn, bent up, wool cowboy hats. Now the prices were reasonable, I guess, they were only asking about $7, but the fact remains for between $3 and $5 more you can get one that doesn’t have lice and sleaze oozing out of every pour. I mean in all honesty, I don’t know which would be worse, the guy who is so broke busted he has to sell a shitty old sweat-drenched cowboy hat, or the guy that would actually wear a shitty old sweat-drenched cowboy hat.
The next thing that caught my interest in this particular shop was their selection of leather jackets. I have been looking for a while now for a replacement to my favorite coat. A few years ago when I was working in a lame grocery store in western Pennsylvania, some stole my jacket from the break room. They not only stole my leather jacket, but a piece of my soul as well. They essentially ended what had been a five year relationship of love. That jacket deflected puke from my skin when partying with drunks. Kept me warm as I walked the streets of Pittsburgh looking for another pint of boze, or another peice of ass. It was my second skin, and when I was to wasted to make it back to my apartment it was my mobile home, but I digress. I walked over to the jackets and picked one up. I was elated that no jacket was more than $50, that is how a pawn shop should be, yet i was very sad to see that all the jackets looked as though they had already encountered road rash.
We decided to move on to the next shop. Now keep in mind it is only about 11:45 am at this point. The next pawn shop we went to was in what at one point was an old strip mall. What occupied the strip mall now was a testament to the particular community it was sitting in. There was of course the pawn shop, then a bar/casino, a pay day load company, and a porn shop. So basically it was a one stop shop to ruin your life. Go get drunk in the bar/casino, take out a payday load to pay your bar tab, spend your last few dimes in the bar/casino at the slot machines, then over to the pawn shop to sell what ever you have left just to make the rent.
As we pulled in to park a man walked out of the bar/casino, took three steps and passed out flat on his face. This place was actually pretty cool inside. The prices were just a ridiculous as all the other places we had been to that day but at least most of their shit was relatively new. My cousin and I were standing there in the middle of the place when we saw a sign that said they were paying top dollar for XBOX games. My cousin started getting this hair brained idea to go to the other pawn shops and buy up all the x box games and then sell them back to this one. Then one of the coolest dialouge exchanges ever happened. I shit you not, this is how it went down.
Cousin: Think of it E-Rokk, you could make a fortune. Hundreds of thousands of dollars. Hey, more than that. Thousands of thousands.
E-Rokk: They call them “millions.”
Cousin: “Millions.” Hmm.
After that we heard a harmonica blowing in the background and were both kind of creeped out so we decided to move on. Unfortunately every pawn shop was more disappointing than the last. They all wanted way to much money for their garbage, except of course for the guns, but you were almost guaranteed to be buying a murder weapon in that transaction.
By about 1pm my cousin asked me if I was hungry. I said “Hey, Mumbo. Jumbo. I am hungry. Go get me some eggs or something. ” We ended up at a bar eating burger and wings and I got shit faced, but I will never forget my time at the pawn shops.