Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.  

A few years ago I bought a Volkswagen-based dune buggy style rig with no engine. The guy I bought it from delivered it, which was very convenient. I planned to use the front end steering for a project. The project involved an airplane fuselage that I had purchased. The idea was to marry a Honda motorcycle in my possession to the airplane as motive power. The VW front-end would provide the steering, and voila, a fun roadworthy tricycle. Wait a minute. If this were a test of sanity I just failed miserably. A project of this scale would require good welding skills. Mine are poor. Creativity would be needed, but that was no problem. The ability to engineer and build creative ideas into reality, maybe halfway there. So as far as bringing this thing to fruition, I could not see it. Time to sell the components and tackle more doable projects.

I had been preparing for retirement projects for years and I have several in the wings. When I retired I was overwhelmed with them. Some I deemed practical, others, not so much. The airplane tricycle being the least practical made the top of the list, and the dune buggy made the most annoying "in your face" lawn fixture. It had to go, so I listed it in all the online marketplace forums. I've talked about this before. Between my friend Paul and I, it became a running joke. We were both ready to put money down that it would never sell. Why? It is such a specialty item that it would take a very highly specific person to purchase it. I think that in the past five months I've sold it at least three times only to be "ghosted" by those buyers. Paul and I finally came up with a profile of the ghosters. Young male party-goers so wasted late at night or early in the morning that all judgment and good sense had escaped them. In their inebriated revelry, they saw the dune buggy, made a snap judgment, committed to buying it, and woke up a few hours later with a bad headache and a serious case of buyer's remorse. Well, no money exchanged hands so the perfect 21st-century thing to do is act like it never happened. It got to where it was happening almost weekly.

I would get messages from young males asking if it ran. The photos depicted an open engine bay with no engine. As frustrated as I became I remained polite and answered all questions reasonably and factually. I've noted that many Marketplace listers claim "I will not answer" when asked, "Is it still available?" If it is still listed, it's still available. I did not adopt that attitude, even though 99 percent of those inquiries lead to nothing. I answered each inquiry. This sort of thing went on for months.

Finally, on a Sunday morning, I received the message "Is this still available?" I answered, "Yes it is and at a good discount." After a couple of exchanges the inquirer from way out in New York state said "OK, we'll be there in two hours." I explained to them that they could not possibly get to Southern Vermont in two hours and that I wouldn't be available until the late afternoon anyway. Further exchanges resulted in an agreed-upon price and time of pick-up of 5 p.m. At that point my friend Paul called and we both had a good laugh about the so-called time of pickup and we almost took bets on when we would finally call it another no-show.

At 5:30 p.m. I received a message that the buyer was 30 minutes out. At 6:15 p.m. they showed up. The gentleman was in his mid to late 40s, knew exactly what he was looking at and what he was going to do with it. He winched the dune buggy onto his trailer by himself within minutes. His wife got out of the truck and talked with us. We had a delightful visit with this very pleasant couple, learning that they are dedicated car people with many similar experiences with retrieving cars to the ones my significant other and I have had. They immediately understood why we needed to sell the dune buggy to make room for another vehicle. All the while my significant other was snapping photos with her phone and sending them to Paul as proof that these folks were real and that the accursed dune buggy was going away with people who knew what it was and who would use it. One parking space opens ..

The Morning Almanac with Arlo Mudgett can be heard Monday through Saturday mornings on radio stations Oldies KOOL FM 106.7, 96.3 and 106.5 and over Peak-FM 101.9 and 100.7.


If you'd like to leave a comment (or a tip or a question) about this story with the editors, please email us.
We also welcome letters to the editor for publication; you can do that by filling out our letters form and submitting it to the newsroom.