Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Never Trust a Buck

There are terrible people out there in the world. Usually when you think about who classifies as a terrible person, you think of truly evil people like Saddam or O.J. Simpson or Bin Laden. It turns out that there are truly evil people all around us and it's taken me 23 years and the death of my great grandmother to find this out. In fact, the evil people I talk of are even related to me. It's unfortunate, but it has taught me that you can't always trust people. I always like to give people the benefit of the doubt, but because of these evil people, I am now a little less open to doing that, which is sad, but after dealing with these people I can't help but feel this way.

As many of you know, my great grandmother passed away about a month ago. It was hard for me since I have a hard time dealing with death in general and with it also being a family member. I was finally getting over it, but then came the preparations for the auction of her estate. Harlan Buck was assigned to handle the process. It should be pointed out that his wife, Joann, was the daughter of my great grandmother and the sister of my grandma Meyer.

It was thought that Harlan would be impartial and treat everyone fairly. He claimed that everything would be handled consistently to keep from having the family members fight. He completely and totally lied. This waste of life used his position to screw our side of the family and benefit his. Apparently he doesn't possess a heart or a conscience (and neither does Joann). Let's examine exactly what he did to bring me to this conclusion. It's an interesting tale.

My great grandmother had stored away some comic books from when my grandma was little in her upstairs. When I'd go visit her, especially when I was younger, she would tell me about them and I could never wait to read them. The thing was, she had them packed away in a box somewhere upstairs and because she was not in the best of health, it was extremely hard for her to get to them. Often my mom would tell me to play with some toys or do something else instead of bothering great grandma Ziemer about the comics. That was often enough to get me to forget about them for the time being.

Just because I would forget about them in the short term I would often think about them after we left and every time we came over. She would always tell me that I'd get to see them someday and, in her later days, told me and grandma that when she was gone she'd like for me to finally have them. I had so many memories attached to those comics even though I had never seen them. When she finally passed away, I clung to those memories (and a blanket that she had crocheted for me) for comfort.

Now comes the time to divide up her belongings and prepare the auction. Harlan deems it necessary to put everything on the auction to avoid fighting between the family members over who might have received more valuable items than the other. If someone wanted something of great grandma's, they would have to buy it. That seemed somewhat extreme, but at least it was a fair plan... in theory. The execution left a lot to be desired.

I was saddened that I would have to buy something that my great grandma actually wanted me to have, but I really didn't have much of a choice. I was prepared to throw down a chunk of cash to get them because they were how I wanted to remember her. A few days before the auction my mother told me that Harlan and Joann had sold a chunk of the comics to one of their friends. At this, I became furious. I was also told that they were sold for $2 each. Now I was even more angry. These were golden age comics from the 1940's and 1950's. Two dollars each was an unbelievably cheap price to sell them for.

What made matters even worse is that there were three types of comics that great grandma had--romance, western, and superhero. It turns out that the buyer took all of the superhero ones because he told Harlan they weren't valuable. It might have also helped that the buyer was one of Harlan's friends. Either way, he got the most valuable comics for dirt cheap and the family wasn't even given a chance to buy them. I was heartbroken.

I later called up Joann to figure out why this was done. I really wanted to find out why this happened. Why did they break the rules that Harlan had set up for dealing with great grandma's possessions? What could have driven them to do this? Upon calling Joann told me that she didn't think I wanted them. What I actually told her and my grandma is that the ones without the covers and the ones that were excessively beat up weren't really worth much. Apparently, to her ears, that sounded like, "Rick doesn't want these so I should sell them to my friends." Which, of course, she did, being the dirty, back-stabbing bitch that she is.

I explained myself to her and how my statement in no way told her to sell them before the auction, but she refused to talk to me like a human being. She spoke condescendingly to me telling me that I was simply causing her trouble and she didn't want to deal with it. Apparently my emotional stress meant nothing to her. She told me she didn't want to talk about it on the phone so I agreed that we could then talk about it in the morning before the auction. I was trying to be polite to accommodate her, but she adamantly told me she would NOT deal with this at all. That's so nice of her to care, isn't it?

I was not about to let this drop because I was being treated completely unfairly and some of my memories were just sold away to some dealer who, by the way, has already sold most of the comics for a pretty hefty profit. In the morning I decided I'd try to talk to Joann and Harlan about it and maybe see if I could get the comics that were left at the same price. It seems like that would only be fair, right? If one person could buy them before the auction for $2 a piece, why couldn't I as well? That would seem logical...

...Unless you were a money whore like Harlan. Joann avoided me like the plague that morning and I wasn't going to work overly hard to talk to her since she didn't want to speak with me. Instead I went to Harlan. He was the one in charge after all, so he should be able to rectify this. Upon asking why he sold them, his reply was, "I thought it was a good deal." A good deal? A good deal for who? Not for you, you dumb old prick. Your buyer (and friend) got the deal. If all you cared about was the money, you sure didn't get much and, by extension, neither did great grandma's heirs.

I then propositioned Harlan to buy the remainder comics for the same price he sold the others at. He said absolutely not. The superhero books he sold, he was told by the buyer, weren't worth any real money and $2 was a good price. Of course the buyer is going to tell you they aren't worth much!! I asked why I couldn't buy them for $2 each and he said because the westerns and romance comics were worth more. I asked what superhero comics he sold then, since they weren't worth much money.

His response: "Umm... some Superman and other superheroes like that."
My response: "Did you know that Superman comics from the 40's and 50's are probably some of the most valuable of the entire lot that great grandma had?"
His response: "Oh wait, come to think of it maybe there weren't any Superman comics."
My inner monologue: "BULLSHIT!"

He then said $5 was his final offer and he could do this because he was responsible for the estate and what he said goes. After that he turned his back to me and wouldn't allow me to say another word. I then went to look at the remainder of the comics to possibly pick some out, still being pissed at how I was being treated. While I was looking through them, Harlan came over to me and told me now to wait until the auction. His justification: You'll probably get the whole lot for cheap--less than $5 a piece. What he was really thinking: "Shit, he's going to buy them for this price. I must not have asked enough."

Flash forward to the actual auction. They started auctioning off the comics... individually instead of by lot. I thought they might go for maybe $5-$10 a piece because most were only in Good or Good+ condition at best, but the first round the high bid was $37.50 per issue. Well damn, it looked like I wasn't going to get any. How could I pay that much money for them? I did eventually get a few and a box of comics where most of them were missing the covers, but it cost me a good chunk of cash to do it.

What made it even worse is that Harlan stared me down as the bidding was taking place. I could tell he was gloating over how managed to screw me over. That dirty old fuck managed to desecrate some of my fondest memories of my great grandmother. Instead of the comics being given to me like great grandma wanted, a couple of comic dealers ended up with them and already a bunch have been resold.

I know this has been a lot to read and is a lot more than I usually post, but I wanted to get the full story out. In one fell swoop, Harlan and Joann Buck, from Hayfield, MN (in case anyone knows them and wants to tell them what terrible people they are), managed to take some of the fondest memories of my great grandmother and turn them into grotesque monstrosities of hate--a hate I possess for Joann and Harlan. A hate that I won't let go. They destroyed something close to my heart and it's brought me more than enough tears. Sure, someone may say that it's only comics books, but that's not all it is, it's a memento of my passed on relative. They're not comics so much as they are pieces of someone with which I can keep from forgetting her.

Along with my heartbreak comes a good share of hate. This is an emotion that I rarely have. Sure, people piss me off at times, but it would take a lot to get me to hate someone. The way Joann and Harlan treated me, though, easily aroused my hate. I passionately hate them through and through. If I were ever to wish a terrible and painful calamity upon anyone, it would be them. I wish them the absolute worst in life. They're not good enough for the air they breath.

In the end, the worst part of this whole situation is it can't be undone. The comics are gone, probably resold already (some for sure already are). With each one goes a small piece of my great grandma and it hurts.

No comments: