One summer when I was still young, my family took a weekend and cleaned out a bunch of stuff in our garage and house. We were going to take our cra … uhh … gently used personal belongings to our local flea market. We wanted to bless someone else with them, and we would rather have the money.
One of the things I took with me was my cross-country skis. I used them for quite a few years and had really outgrown them. They had some sentimental value because they were the first skis I had ever used.
In fact, I remember the Christmas morning that I woke up, ran into the living room and saw them and a pair of downhill skis leaning against the wall. Everything inside of me went ballistic when I realized what it meant. Soon, I would be a skier! I couldn’t wait!
After we opened our presents and ate breakfast, we took our cross-country skis over to one of the areas where they were having a race. We had planned to just ski around and get used to them, but there was a race course set up. Apparently, my puppy dog eyes worked. On my first day of skiing, I was allowed to enter the race.
Believe it or not, I took first place, beating out a kid who had skied for eight years. This started a racing addiction that just hasn’t left. Once again, those skis meant something to me.
So here we were in beautiful downtown Truckee. We set up a little table to hock our wares. One of my mom’s friends was there helping us out when a couple came up. They asked me about the skis. I answered all of their questions and then they asked the price. With sadness in my heart, I told them $30. It was an incredible price for trusty skis that helped me win my first battle.
The couple looked them over and seemed really interested. I knew I had sold my skis and was about to watch them walk away with what could only be described as my friends. (Hey, if Toby Keith can have a red cup as a friend, I can have my skis.)
All of a sudden, they looked at me and said, “Eh” and turned to walk away—but not with my skis. And for some crazy reason, desperation welled up inside of me. I yelled out, “Wait …. $20!” They then stopped, looked at me, and turned to walk away again. “OK wait ………. $10!!!” I said.
The came back to the table, quickly gave me $10 and swiftly walked away before I could cry. They knew there is a well-known kid’s law that says you must give the skis back … and let the child keep the $10 if one teardrop falls.
I stood there, shocked at what happened. With my mouth hanging open, I looked up at my mom’s friend and said, “Why did you let me do that? You didn’t say a thing.” To which he replied, “You had to learn.” Those four words seemed like a samurai sword penetrating my stomach. I looked back at him and said, “But I’m a kid!” Apparently that didn’t matter.
I can still remember the sting of that day, especially the part where the couple was able to look at my precious skis, decide that they didn’t want to pay that much, turn and walk away. And then, do it again when I first dropped the price.
I still think taking advantage of a helpless (maybe susceptible is a better word) kid should be against the law or something. But it taught me that being emotionally attached can get you in trouble—whether you’re the buyer or the seller.
Question: What ways have you seen the power of walking away?