Tales of woe from an Ebay addict.

May 1, 2012 3:20 pm

There are very few things in life that prepare you for that inevitable day when you awake from the night before, wearing nothing more than a ‘I love Barry White’ t-shirt, a pair of novelty, boxing glove shaped slippers, boot up the computer and discover that you have indeed won 47 tactical combat knives the previous evening upon that odious and pernicious auction site known as Ebay.

‘Congratulations’ it reads in mocking knowledge. Blind panic, of course, now envelopes your body as the real life consequences of such profligacy hit home. What shall I tell the bank manager when he sees my account has suddenly delved into the red? And what on earth do I tell my wife? It is one thing embarrassing her by running around in a Mexican wrestling mask and your underpants during 30th birthday celebrations, but how the hell do you begin to explain the purchase of enough weaponry to start your own militia?  Christmas presents maybe? Or try in vain to persuade her that real investors place their money in cold hard steel. First, however, I thought it prudent to step back and take a long, hard and rational look at the situation. How had online auctions and the availability of cheap bourbon collided in such a horrific fashion? It was time to admit I was an Ebay addict.

It had all started innocently enough some years ago with the purchase of the odd Christmas present here or birthday present there, but, I am now aware, that was where the seed was planted. These were merely ‘gateway’ purchases. As a 30 year old man the necessity to own retro styled Adidas tracksuit tops is, of course, imperative, but not easily pacified. Yet there before me, on this wonderful site, lay thousands of them to choose from. The first seven tops came with such ease that I hardly even noticed the time spent on their acquisition, further more the expense. After a total of 14 tops had landed upon my welcome mat the problem should have been very apparent, but a fit healthy, 30 year old male owning so many sports casual garments would, in some circles, be an affirmation of vitality, or simply a keen and fastidious attempt at fashion. Would it be possible to pull in the reins on this Ebaying frenzy, I wondered, but yet continue this strange journey to its conclusion, whatever that may entail?

The need for an Ebay fix was now rivalling that of any narcotics abuser. Those beautiful last 15 seconds of watching an item you had a bid on and nervously hoping you wouldn’t be out-bid by some other Ebay addict. The thrill of seeing the item briefly disappear only to be instantly replaced upon the screen now donning  the headline ‘Congratulations’ you are the highest bidder for item xyz. This all had to be achieved rather more frugally with the purchase of less valuable items, and so began the next phase of my Ebaying saga and things started getting weird, really weird.

The first such item bought under the new and revised parsimonious restraints were a set of 10 bumper stickers that read ‘I love Dairy Alpine Goats’ and indeed who doesn’t, for a total of only $3.25, a cheap but satisfactory thrill. Subsequent purchases included a set of four SpongeBob Squarepants drinks coasters for a reasonable $4.50, and during a particularly quiet Ebay night, with both tiredness and desperation looming, a Bart Simpson shaped piñata for a bargain $4. The end of this bizarre odyssey, however, came at 3.am on a Wednesday morning with the purchase of aBostonLimited Edition 7’ single for $2.75. What sort of sick animal puts aBostonsingle online in the small hours of a weekday morning? Ebay pushers that’s who, a lowly cabal of twisted individuals hunkered down over filthy keyboards, lurking in the darkest recesses of the web along with perverts and Star Trek fans, who will, at any moment, sell you any old crap because they know someone, somewhere out there is desperate enough to buy it, and I was in their grasp.

As with any physical or mental addiction, over time the highs are harder to come by. The drug needs to become stronger or the risk taking greater.  Coming first place in an auction of goat related merchandise at 1am on a Monday morning just wasn’t giving me the kick I needed. Surprising as it may seem, there are not that many bidding foes on goat paraphernalia in the early hours of a workday morning – it was indeed a hollow victory. This is when the final and most disturbing aspect of my Ebay addiction began to take shape; chicken bidding. The idea is to bid upon something you don’t want and can’t afford in order not to win it, but only just. Much like jumping out of the way of an oncoming train the thrill comes with just how close to death you dare take yourself. I wasn’t going to die with chicken bidding (although if I had of won some of the items I bid upon then my wife may have had a good go) but it was a risk and a thrill all the same, and if played correctly would cost nothing. I started carefully with, as it turned out, a woefully inadequate bid on a bass guitar. I could not play such an instrument, but never the less bid a crazy £120. The winning bidder bought the said guitar for almost double that so I persevered with items I had some fiscal knowledge of.
Next came a bid on a Boss in car stereo system which I neither needed nor could afford, I bid £87 and was only out bid in the last 3 minutes of the auction – an incredible rush. I upped the ante and next bid upon a complete home tattoo start up kit, and why not. This was the closest shave yet and paradoxically the biggest rush from chicken bidding I would ever get, I was outbid by a single five pound note during the last 12 white knuckle ride seconds, the item finally going for £142. I am sure I would still be in a hospital bed if I had won that particular auction.

My luck, however, had to run out and my next two chicken bids went south earning me two Sony MD players in one auction alone and a cheap in car stereo that I still did not need in the other. I had learned from the financial near miss of the tattoo kit and only had to pay out a total of $65 for all three lots.
The end was nigh, however, the bells were tolling and I was only one more bid away from facing up to my addiction in the cold light of day. I have always been an admirer of knives, not in any mean or violent way but a connoisseur of their workmanship, history and variety. So there it was, a collection of 47 of the beautiful blighters, Bowies, hunting, folding, butterfly all with cases and a retail value of over $260 – wow. I put a modest bid of $100 on them but that was soon beaten with over 2 hours of the auction remaining. So I increased the bid to a massive $163, how I came up with the amount is a mystery but it sounded on the money for a close and thrilling shave. I went to bed not able to stay awake long enough to witness the climax, but sure in the knowledge that I would arise and have an early morning buzz from nearly winning… The rest they say, is history.

I no longer allow myself to go online unless with the sole purpose of buying a specific gift, I have in all sense of the phrase gone cold turkey. Ebay and I, however, are once again soon to collude as I have decided to become an Ebay pusher, I have some rather nice bumper stickers to shift and a raft of murder weapons to find homes for not to mention that bloody Boston single. Will anybody buy such crap? Of course they will, they always do…


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