Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Saddest Thing I Saw Today

There's a pawn shop in the same building as my new comic store:

uncle easy's pawn

I don't know a lot about pawn shops. When we lived at Fort Campbell there seemed to be hundreds of pawn shops outside the base, and my parents always told me that pawn shops were terrible, sad places and were also frequented by criminals and evil shopkeepers who gouged money from sad, broken people who had nowhere else to go and had to resort to selling everything they owned for a fraction of its value just to get by.

As I've gotten older, I've had slightly more exposure to pawn shops. I don't mean that I've actually been inside one or anything, but I've learned from a number of movies that a pawn shop is an excellent place to go if I need a handgun in a hurry, especially if I have an engagement ring to trade for it. I've also learned that if you visit one, it will almost always be at night, and it will most likely be raining.

All of this knowledge seems slightly at odds with what I've learned about the one by my comic store.

For one thing, it's never raining when I go there. I don't get comics if it's raining because some might leak into the bag and then the comics might get wet. (I get them in snow, though, because if it's snowing then I probably have a coat on, and I can stick the bag in my coat to protect it. I don't have a raincoat, so that doesn't happen, and I just wait until it's not raining anymore.) I suppose it's possible that the rain might suddenly start the minute I cross the pawn shop threshold, but that seems unlikely.

I've also learned that they close before dark. I've gotten into the habit of going to the comic store after work, since I'm already halfway there, and the pawn shop is always closed already. When I went during the day a few times, before I was fully into my new comic store routine, the pawn shop was open, so even though I don't know their exact hours I feel safe in saying they won't be open at night when desperate people show up needing to trade jewelry for guns.

While I cannot verify the character of the people who run the pawn shop based on my limited observation, and therefore prove or disprove the information indoctrinated by my parents, I have learned one other thing about them. They're not good at spelling:


Anyway, beyond those general observations, I don't give a lot of thought to the pawn shop next to the comic store, other than that their early closing time means that I can park in front of their store and not get hostile stares from the people who work at the Mexican bakery that's right next to the comic store and hate having non-customers park in front of their store. When I was pulling up today, though, I saw the most terrible thing in the pawn shop window:

sadness (1)

Someone is pawning a prosthetic leg.

For a second I really felt like I might burst into tears. My overactive imagination immediately supplied a hungry, needy, one-legged person who was probably a war vet and having trouble finding work and difficulty sleeping from the traumatic stress flashbacks and needing to pay for expensive meds but getting screwed over by the VA and they were totally at the end of their rope and all they could do was walk to the pawn shop at night, in the rain, and offer up the last thing they had left: their prosthetic leg. The shop keeper, of course, recognized their desperation just by staring at their dark-circled sleepless eyes, and offered them an insultingly paltry sum for their prosthetic leg that they had no choice but to accept before staggering out into the rain soaked parking lot using the stick they left by the door because they also couldn't afford a crutch.

Then, as I was getting out of the car and feeling incredibly guilty spending money on comic books instead of giving it to one-legged war vets, I got a closer look at the prosthetic leg, and all of my sympathy was immediately replaced with cynical disdain:

sadness (2)

Yeah, it's covered in UT Vols logos.

Is there nothing, literally nothing, that people in Tennessee won't paint orange and slap a T on? And who buys that? Who thinks, "I can walk again! But I wish I could somehow walk and show my team spirit..."

I don't even know why I'm surprised anymore.


strong cookie. said...

This story is clearly a complete work of fiction. My reasoning? This line:

"For a second I really felt like I might burst into tears."

Joel said...

It was a really short second.