Recently I celebrated by 23rd birthday on March 14th which was during the week of South By Southwest (SXSW). Birthdays have never really been that big of a deal to me. I have never really been the kind of person that wanted tons of gifts or anything like that. Just a simple party surrounded by people I love is really all I cared about.
David and I made our way through downtown to one of my favorite streets in Austin, Rainey Street. Rainey Street is great because it used to be a residential area but slowly the area transformed into bars and coffee shops. So all the bars look and feel like houses and have front yards with tables set up for people to hang out on and enjoy their beers as well as spacious backyards with picnic tables and usually a stage for bands to play. Along our way there we happened upon a yard sale where David insisted that we found some weird clothing for me to wear for my birthday. As we rummaged through the sale a girl popped out from behind a clothing rack, “You are gonna find the weirdest shit at this place,” she said with excitement.
“We are looking for something weird for him to wear for his birthday,” David said as he pointed at me.
“I got just the thing for you.” The girl said as she scurried over to a rack behind us and pulled out the strangest jacket I have ever seen. It looked like something straight out of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. Its bright colors were sure to catch anyone’s eye, not to mention the plastic gems that were sewn on the left breast.
“Yes! That’s perfect!” David said. “How much?”
The girl handed it over to us. “Oh, I don’t work here, I’m just hanging out.”
We later found someone that was actually running the yard sale and sold it to us for a bargain of $6.00. David generously paid for it as a birthday present to me.
I slid the jacked on over my long sleeve button up and was instantly shot back in time to the early 90s when this jacket was popular.
We began wandering the streets in search of live music. I was embarrassed to be wearing such a ridiculous jacket until I reminded myself of all the strange people I see in Austin on a daily basis. Within only a few blocks I received several compliments on my new jacket. Maybe it was nostalgic for people, or maybe it was the flashy colors, but whatever it was the general public seemed to love my new jacket.
Fast-forward to about two weeks later: Jet, Ashley, and I went out to one of our favorite bars, The Blackheart on Rainey Street, to see one of Jet’s friend’s band play, the Harvest Thieves. We were hanging out on the front yard of the bar and I was having a conversation with Ashley until I was interrupted by some random guy who felt the need to compliment Ashley on her shaved head. He was a short fellow with long, wavy, brown hair that reached his shoulders. Some facial hair circled around his mouth and he very closely resembled Robert Downey Jr.
We began talking with him and before long the conversation shifted to my jacket. This man was very intrigued by its unique design and liked it so much that he was offering to buy it right off my back.
“I’ll give you $100 for that jacket right now.” He said.
Now I don’t have a lot of money to my name at the moment because I just relocated to Austin and was still in the process of job hunting so $100 is quite a bit of money to me. “$100?!” I said in disbelief. “You’re gonna pay me $100 for this jacket?!” My brain was having trouble processing why someone would want to pay so much money for such a ridiculous jacket. Especially since it was bought for only six bucks.
“Yeah, dude, a hundred bucks right now.” He insisted.
“Naw man, sorry, I can’t do it. I really like this jacket.”
“Okay, okay.” He lowered his head and thought for a second then raised it again. “How about $200?”
At this point I couldn’t help but laugh. There’s no way this man was being serious. I couldn’t believe anyone is their right mind to be paying so much for a jacket like this. But he didn’t appear to be drunk or on any type of drugs. “You can’t be serious right now.” I said in disbelief.
He reassured me, “200 bucks right now.”
“I’m sorry many but I can’t do it.”
“THREE HUNDRED DOLLARS!!!” He yelled as he reached into his pocket and retrieved a money clip containing a wad of hundred dollar bills. He counted out three of them and held them up to me then proceeded to put the money in my hand to prove how serious he was. “Here. Take it.”
I was instantly shocked with the amount of money he had. “What the heck do you do that you have so much money? Are you like famous or something?” I was skeptical that he was just carrying around a wad of fake cash so I held it up to the light and there I saw Benjamin Franklin’s watermark staring at me confirming its authenticity.
He upped the ante even more. “I’ll even throw in my cowboy boots.” He pulled up one pant leg and turned his foot to the side to display his leather cowboy boots.
“Those are really nice boots.” He gained my interest a little more.
“Okay, maybe not the boots. I like these too much.” He quickly retrieved the offer. “But come on man. 300 FREAKING DOLLARS.”
I thought about it for a moment and thought about all the things I could buy with that money. Earlier that day I was camera shopping and found a camera I really wanted for about $700 so with this money I would be about halfway there to getting it.
But, then I thought more about it. Money has never really meant that much to me so I wasn’t really thinking about the money I was more thinking about what I could get with it. The more I thought the more I realized it wasn’t worth it. Sure, $300 is a lot of money right now but what about a month from now? Or how about a year? Would I still have that money? Hell, would I even remember getting that money? I could use that money now for quite a few things but honestly it’s not really that much. Heck, that’s about how much I pay each month in student loans.
I then thought about the jacket itself and all that it was brought me. Whenever I wear it I constantly have people come up to me and compliment it or ask the story behind it which creates an easy ice breaker and leads into meeting a new person.
So, if I were to sell this jacket then I wouldn’t just be selling an article of clothing but rather an opportunity. An opportunity to give anyone a reason to come up and talk to me and for me to get to know them. If I were to sell this jacket then it would almost feel like I would be selling a piece of myself.
If it were any other piece of clothing I had then I would gladly sell it for $300. Hell, I would sell my pants and walk around in my boxers for the rest of the night. Any other piece of clothing I could easily replace by going to the store. But a jacket like this I am sure I will never see again for the rest of my life.
I once again denied his offer, “I’m sorry man but I can’t sell it. This jacket means too much to me.”
He realized that I could not be bought, shook my hand, and went on his way.
Later I realized that there are certain material items that we all own that is nearly impossible to put price on. For some it may be an old family bible that has been passed down through generations, for me it’s something as simple as a jacket, and as for the gentlemen trying to purchase my jacket it was his cowboy boots. This man had plenty of money to buy whatever he wanted but when it came to him parting with something that meant a lot to him he was very quick to reject. We all own things that we hold a higher value to than any dollar sign which is what makes them sentimental. Maybe someday I will sell this jacket if the price is right but I think I’d rather trade it for something like a better opportunity. So until someone offers me my dream job of having my own show on the Travel Channel I’ll just continue walking around like I belong in a 90s sitcom.