I had an interesting phone call today – someone trying to sell me “old coins”.
They were actually sets of football medallions from the 1998 and 2002 World Cups, which were sold or given away in supermarkets at the time. They are virtually worthless and even with the help of eBay they are almost unsaleable. We buy them if they come in with other things and even then we try to avoid them because they clutter the place up and encourage people to bring in even more useless junk.
Like Gresham’s Law, in which bad money drives out good, a shelf of unsaleable crap seems to just grow and grow until you become a junk shop rather than a coin shop. Actually, that’s more like Topsy, but I’m trying to sound intellectual.
I apologised, even though it’s not my fault, and said that we didn’t buy them. This started an argument as the caller pointed out that we were a coin shop and these were “over 30 years old” so we had to buy them. (As I write that, I realise they are only 20 years old).
I’d been in the middle of a tricky email, using Google Translate, to an idiot on eBay, and this new idiot had interrupted me, so I’m afraid I didn’t put things as tactfully as I might have done.
I could have been less blunt in telling him we had coins that were 2,000 years old so 30 years wasn’t a selling point.
But the problem really started when I told him they were medallions not coins. He couldn’t understand the difference. And I, unfortunately, was even less tactful in my explanation of why they weren’t coins. Well, to be fair to me, I was tactful on the first and second time I tried to explain it. I was, I admit, a bit sharp on my third attempted explanation. He just couldn’t grasp the ideas that not all round flat things are coins or that I was free not to buy them.
It ended with him shouting “I’m not an effing idiot you know!” and disconnecting the call. (I have altered the language slightly.)
Of course, he was wrong in that too, because he was an idiot.
After that, I went back to the email. We have an unhappy Spanish customer but we aren’t sure why. He has now sent us two messages in Spanish and the translation websites are struggling. I can’t work out what he is actually unhappy about – it seems that I got it wrong on my first attempt but his second email is no more help. I’ve composed a message using short sentences and very simple concepts in the hope that the translator won’t garble it.
No doubt we will sort it out one way or another.
This was probably the sort of day I needed as an antidote to my recent unusual happiness.