Today’s episode is Part II of III, Part I being yesterday's post.
Go ahead. Go read it. We’ll wait.
My dad and I stare down at the clean piles of dishes.
“Once a mold-covered threat to health,” he says, smiling, “now gleaming stacks of salable goods.” He takes a drag from his cigarette. “How much you thinking of asking?”
I look at him, surprised. “You don’t want a cut?”
“I want my $4.50 back,” he says, smiling, ashing carefully, away from the crockery. “This is all you, though. You give me $4.50 back and we’ll consider these babies yours. Anything you make, you keep.”
Think and Grow Rich, my dad likes to say, and already I’m thinking and growing rich. Why, I’ll just load these in the big yellow cart that my brother uses for his Sunday route…
That night, after dinner, and after my father’s interference regarding whose night it was to dry the dishes (mine), I set out with a cartload of sparkly, genuine truck-stop plates, cups, and saucers.
It is small-time stuff, really, and these are the words I repeat to myself as I pull the cart. “The cartload of dishes?” I say, grinning into an imaginary microphone. “Oh, that was small-time stuff, really. But the sale of those dishes? That's how I made my first million – and that’s the hardest million, you know. The first.”
Surprisingly, the first trailer isn’t interested in used dishes.
Nor is the second or the third.
My dad's words ring in my ears: There are nine "no's" for every "yes", Pearl. Selling is no time to get sensitive.
At the fourth, I sell four plates for a quarter apiece. I stuff the dollar bill into my pants pocket and smile. I am a dollar closer to being debt-free.
It is at the fifth trailer that the clouds part and the setting sun sprays me with prisms of pearly, truck-stop potential.
The One Percent.
The One Percent live one lot down from us. They aren’t our neighbors – they are our neighbors’ neighbors; and while there are three people and one dog living there, you'd never know it by the traffic they generate.
The One Percent are not subscribers to Better Homes and Gardens. The aluminum steps that lead to the front door wobble in a drunken manner when climbed; and the screen door is missing both its screen and the spring that will keep it from being grabbed by the wind and slammed against the side of the trailer. The trailer itself is rust-streaked, giving a world-weary impression. I stare at it, let my eyes un-focus, imagine it heading toward California, a family of Okies inside, worldly goods piled on top and strapped down with baling twine, a biker chick in a rocking chair perched at the top, ala The Beverly Hillbillies.
In contrast to all this? Three spotless, dust-free Harleys, lovingly parked atop carpet remnants on a pristine, re-surfaced driveway.
I look up. This particular model of mobile home has the kitchen at the front. The windows have been broken out, shards of glass on the sidewalk.
On the sidewalk leading up to the front door are the broken pieces of what just may be every dish this trailer has ever housed.
Already, I am Thinking and Growing Rich.