The Days Dwindle Down to a Precious Few…

….well, tolerable few, anyway.  We are getting near the end of our winter sojourn, our hiatus, our respite.  Our big shopping foray.  Our winter dip in the shallow end.  We have stayed our welcome but only just, we could be past it…hard to say. Ten days from now, we begin the trek home and what a convoluted trek that will be taking us first to Victoria before the car points in the right direction. I am getting closer to home by the day and I can taste it.  Homesickness, bittersweet.

Mostly just sweet.  If there is any bitter it is just in the anticipation of creaky bones, aged muscles and loads of loads to carry and schlep when we get home.  We are once again heavily laden from the treasures and junque that will fill the car and the trailer to the brim. We are much less like vacationers and more like outfitters, salvagers and opportunists with too much time on their hands and too much treasure at hand.  Did I tell you I got two more winches?

Seriously, my only limitation to acquisition is the vehicle and trailer capacity and, as you know from last year, I added the roof rack from hell to extend our potential for more and we use it!  This year I cheated and shipped a 1400 pound box by truck and barge.  I could star in Hoarders: the hermit kind.

Sally, usually the voice of reason, has become an enabler.  She ferrets about, collects and finds like I do now.  She no longer complains about a salvage op or a junque trawl.  She’s onside so long as it is NOT in Surrey.  She hates Surrey.  The other day, she elicited a promise from me; “I don’t care if there are ten free, new winches, nine new gensets and a Toyota Tundra with a camper on it, all for free!  We don’t go to Surrey!  OK?  Deal?”

I had to agree.  I have always maintained (even after the first Pit Bull launched itself at Sal only to be stopped by the barbed wired, chain-link fence as it splattered all-legs pressed against the fence) that one could not determine the potential for ‘good junque’ by the neighbourhood.  “Sal, think about it, a person in Surrey could have a good used car, could have a good used tool, some nice salvaged construction materials.  They could advertise on Craigslist like anyone else and have the item of your desire like anywhere else, eh? Why not?”

That argument pretty much won the day twenty years ago when we were looking for a step van (another story) but the legitimacy of the argument eroded as the years yielded one major (and usually scary) disappointment after the other.  I confess to having serious doubts about anything-Surrey for the last few years but I refused to let experience be my teacher.

But Sal became more and more convinced that Surrey was a black hole for honesty and truth.  Even when she saw an ad that looked great and promised even better, she’d say, “It won’t be true.  It’ll be bait and switch. You’ll see.”   And we’d go.  And it was.  Some so blatant you wonder how they can answer the door.

But I mention this mostly because of the new Surrey phenomena of last minute location disclosure.  Seriously.  It is weird.  “So, I saw your ad for an anvil.  The blacksmith’s anvil? On Craigslist?  Do you still have it?”

“Unh.  You better talk to Sam.  He has the anvil for sale.”

“Well, I don’t have to talk to Sam if he still has it.  I can, it seems, just come and see it.  No?”

Unh, like, you better talk to Sam.”

“OK.  Is Sam there?”

“Unh, I dunno….I ‘ll go see….but, like, he likes it that you leave a number, OK?  And then he can phone you back…OK, like?”

“You live in Surrey…right…am I guessing right…?”

“Unh, do you want to leave a number?  Sam says he’ll call you right back.” (……..if you are talking with Sam why not just put him on?…Oh, never mind).  I leave my number and a few minutes later Sam calls.

“Yeah, Sam here.  Ya wanna anvil?”

“Yeah.  That anvil seems the perfect size for me.  About thirty pounds, maybe 40?”

“I dunno, man, its f’ing heavy, like.”

“Yeah, OK.  Give me your address and we’ll come out.  Is today good for you?  Mid afternoon-ish?”

“Yeah.  I’ll be here.  Phone me when you get close and I’ll give you the address.”

“OK.  Fine.  But close to where?  Don’t you have to at least give me a hint as to what is the nearest large intersection or something…”

“Yeah, like, OK…right…unh..we are close to 132nd and 80th ave.  Ya know Surrey?”

“More and more all the time.”


“Never mind.  I’ll call as we enter your airspace…see you in an hour or so…”

Any one of several scenarios then unfolds: the anvil was sold or was made of ceramic or wood or was out back in the chicken coop near where the Pit Bull was tethered.  They would only open the door an inch and, scanning me with a flinty eye, would only tell me where to look.  The smells wafting out from the door ajar suggested that the chickens lived and died in the house along with them and a gro-op. Sally was pulling on my arm and saying in hissed tones, “See!  What’d I tell you.  Let’s get out of here.”

“Geez, now that we are here, sweetie, don’t you at least wanna see if we can get past the Pit Bull?”

Surrey, BC.  Don’t Craigslist there.

So, anyway, we are going home soon. Lots of stuff.  Wintertime pretty well spent.  But no anvil this time.  Lots of weird stories about Craigslist characters, Surrey neighbourhoods and Sal’s growing bias towards the closer proximity neighbourhoods for buying second hand junque.  And I have to agree with her, I am afraid.  I gave Surrey over twenty years and came up with zip every time.  It’s just that not too many people living in Shaughnessy have second hand old anvils, ya know?.


6 thoughts on “The Days Dwindle Down to a Precious Few…

  1. One man’s junk is another man’s treasure. Beating the bushes for free stuff pays off big time. As a fellow repurposer I know the value of trolling Craigslist for a bargoon.


    • Cheap and free is good but don’t forget the hard-to-find. Anvils don’t grow on trees. Ain’t gonna find big honkin’ roof racks or machinists vices in the West End. Some things just gravitate to the eastern townships. Betcha Mission has a surplus of anvils. I sure as hell know where to buy Pit Bull puppies.


  2. I dare say the majority of stuff for sale in Surrey on Craigslist is stolen. Perhaps why they dont want to give you an address until the last minute and then make you hike out to the back yard to look at it. Warrants for the house not the yard?


    • I dunno. I refuse to believe bad people choose ONE neighbourhood (mind you, Surrey is the largest municipality in BC, I think). And I refuse to believe ONE neighbourhood has only garbage and lies for sale. Still, I have yet to find the exception to that belief in decades of trying and I have a wife to placate. So, placate I will.


  3. We moved to Burnaby in 2006 to work for a couple of years. Everyone warned me about Surrey. We were looking for a new apartment and saw a promising (and cheap) one in Surrey. What could be the harm in looking I thought? Not as advertised.
    Left disappointed but on the way home thought I would stop at Staples and pick up a printer cartridge I needed. In and out of the store in 1 minute. On the way back to the truck I thought that drivers side window looked awfully clean. That’s because it was no longer there. Smash and grab. Witnesses said “that happens all the time here”
    I am with Sally. Never go back to Surrey.


    • Hah !
      A friend of mine took a new job promotion from Toronto to Surrey as a manager of a stereo store back in the 1980’s.
      His FIRST DAY on the job the store was robbed and when he left at the end of the day……..his car had been stolen!
      He loathes Surrey………

      .” From Hells heart I stab at thee…”


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