The Deal on Wheels

Early in my marriage, I started getting phone calls from strange men asking me questions I didn’t like answering. The calls began to cause marital problems between my husband and me. One day I finally told my husband I didn’t want to be his phone girl anymore.

Back when cell phones were still considered a luxury that my husband and I couldn’t afford, he listed our home phone number with a for-sale ad in the Deals on Wheels magazine that reaches several states in different time zones. He had gotten optimistic at the thought of making some money off the 1957 Chevy pickup that was still in decent shape, but remained parked out behind the shop. After he saw other for-sale ads on similar classic pickups, he began to speculate about his own small fortune from selling the abandoned project from his bachelor years. Being married and thirty-one, his interest in the pickup had faded. It was no longer a priority he cared to focus on. He had become more interested in domestic projects like painting our outbuildings, hanging up a porch swing, sprucing up the yard, and squelching his dad’s harping about grandkids.

The majority of the time that someone called about the ad, my husband wasn’t around. Over a month’s time, we received 40-50 calls which became disruptive. If calls weren’t coming in while I was trying to get something done during our son’s nap time, we were getting calls while I was trying to feed, bathe, or get our boy to bed. I quickly got tired of taking messages from complete strangers about my husband’s pickup. Despite the fact that I couldn’t answer their questions about the pickup’s shape and physical condition, and all of their mechanical inquiries, they continued to press me with more questions. I couldn’t answer accurately or at all, when my husband would be around so they could talk to him instead or when the best time to call would be. Several times I got mad at my husband because I took messages from every caller and he was nonchalant about returning all of the calls.

When the ad ran out and people stopped calling, we still had the pickup which irritated me even more. Eventually it got sold to a neighbor who offered to buy it for a lot less than my husband had envisioned.

Recently, my husband and I met a guy who had experienced similar marital strife over an ad he had placed to sell a horse that drew a lot of calls. He had listed his cell phone number instead of his home phone number in the ad which spared his wife from having to deal with callers inquiring about the horse but the $250.00 cell phone bill didn’t go over so well with her.

I don’t know if the horse seller intended to make extra money to the degree that my husband had hoped to make with his old pickup, but the only small fortune my husband saw from his ad was the cost of living in harmony with me at home.

column originally published May 23-29, 2010

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