Since the end of the lockdown, or perhaps I should say Lockdown 1 as it seems it’s likely it’s no longer a singular, I’ve been preparing to move house to be closer to my muse. As a result I cleared out my shed. At the back of my shed I came across a large set of step ladders dating back, perhaps, sixty years. I know my father had them in the sixties but they could be older if they were second hand at the time.
This is a wooden set of stepladders, perhaps six or even seven feet tall, the sort of thing that would have been owned by a painter and decorator or a serious DIY enthusiast. To be honest they were always a bit unsteady what with being so tall. Modern aluminium stepladders seem to have a more stable design, which is probably why they’ve been in my shed for a quarter of a century.
It was one of those emotional decisions to get rid of them. You wouldn’t think of step ladders as a family heirloom but they sort of felt that way as they were such a familiar image what with them being older than me and always present in my life, even if remotely present in the shed… at the bottom of the stack of tools, at the end of the garden, unnoticed for years; so not really present at all, but I’m sure you get the picture.
Therefore, I put them on eBay, as I have been doing with the contents of my loft and other clutter. Where I have no idea of the value of an item or I’m pretty sure an item is worth no more than the price of a cup of coffee (being the industry standard for an amount of money that you sort of don’t notice spending so not being of much concern if you have that few quid or not) I put the item on Facebook Marketplace as free for anyone who will collect. However, if I have a slight suspicion that something might have a greater value and I don’t know what that value is, I put it on eBay starting at 99p and see what happens. Sometimes it can be surprising and can be quite exciting, such as the time the unused roof panels that had been behind my shed for five years went for 100 quid. My shed is full of treasures.
Initially, there was almost no interest in the ladders, one or two watchers but no bids. The auction came to an end after seven days and I got a message to say that they hadn’t been sold. But then I got a message from a guy who said that his WiFi had gone down at the moment he intended to make the bid and, by the time he was connected again, the auction had ended. He suggested that if I relisted it, and added a buy it now option for ten quid, he would buy it there and then. I did, he did and the deal was done.
This morning he turned up to collect. I imagined that he would be a painter and decorator or at least a DIYer who wanted a long set of ladders. Modern step ladders seem to be much shorter (more stable) what with all that silly health and safety nonsense. Talking to the guy it turned out that he was going to use them to make some shelves. “They’re going to look fantastic,” he said as we loaded them into his unfeasibly small hatchback. His plan was to match them up with a similar set of ancient wooden stepladders, lay some planks between the two and create some funky old fashioned looking shelves. Why didn’t I think of that 20 years ago?
I commented that he could have had them for a pound had he just asked me to relist them. I suppose the idea of a buy it now price is that you have to set a value in advance and I’d not done that before as I had no idea of their value. Not having had any bids in a week meant that they had no value; plus, to be honest, my main motivation was to ensure that this family heirloom didn’t go into landfill. Seeing any of the contents of my loft going to a new home is sufficient to soften the blow of parting with them. He could have made me an offer of a pound cash, or some such. Perhaps he was being careful not to operate outside of the eBay rules against private transactions. However, his explanation was that he hated the idea of offering me a pound and be taking advantage of the fact that they hadn’t sold. I suppose it’s just three cups of coffee or thereabouts. So, as far as he was concerned, the onus on him was to offer me a fair price, thus, doing the decent thing.
The only shame about the whole experience is that he seemed like such a decent bloke, and with such great taste in interior design, that I wish I had the chance to get to know him.