Sunday, May 31, 2009

Flooded Treasures

Lately I've been reading Oscar Wilde's fairy tales. Interestingly enough I'm coming across some that I had read in class during grade school. Obviously now the societal quips and commentary no longer go over my head, instead they knock me right between the teeth as if Wilde was yelling to me from the grave, "See? Humans haven't changed at all, it's the same bureaucratic nonsense and it always will be...P.S. If I were alive today you know I'd be a stand-up comic."

On Saturday I was walking down the road and there was somewhat of an informal yard sale going on in Fremont. I went to check it out and there were books. Tons of books. Turns out what happened was this guy, he was an older guy, lived in Seattle his whole life, has his own float for the Solstice Parade, believes Seattle Times is a huge conspiracy, cool guy. Anyway, turns out a bunch of these books were flooded, so this guy dove into the dumpster and fished them all out. He was giving them away to any interested parties. Dostoevsky, Kierkegaard, Hunter Thompson (more), all found, all salvageable. I also added some Chomsky and Nietzsche.

He asked for two dollars since some of the books weren't flooded, I insisted on giving him three. Once when I was in between semesters at college there was a leak in my parents' basement and some of my books got it. A blow dryer, a little bit of sunlight, and a stubborn attitude that wouldn't settle for re-buying a soul-less republication from Barnes and Noble was all I needed to get them back to being totally readable. Hopefully I'll have similar success with these books.

Now, when I was in college I worked at Carnegie Mellon University in the receiving warehouse. Every so often I would go to campus to make deliveries to the book store. Sometimes there was a guy, similar to the Seattle guy, that would sell books on campus. I'd always see a flier near the book store so I knew when he'd be there. I'd try to go shop for a bit and since no one really wants to go back to a non-air conditioned warehouse in the middle of summer, it usually wasn't hard for me to convince my co-workers to stall for a bit while I checked out the book selection.

One time, I found the entire collection of "Notes of A Dirty Old Man" by Charles Bukowski. Not the collection that was published later, but all of the original writings that appeared in the paper he used to write for along with some of the other stuff he had been doing during that time that had slipped under the radar. I remember picking it up at the book sale and showing it to the guy. "Spine's ripped, I can't sell that...You want it, it's yours." Since then I've read that collection so many times that the ripped spine did give in completely, the book's held together by athletic tape now, and I still read it from time to time.

Experiences like the above mentioned make me wonder why I spend time worrying about money.

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