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It's the Pitts: My favorite wreck

Lee Pitts Published on 24 January 2013

Americans love wrecks. This explains the popularity of demolition derbies, the Three Stooges, professional bull riders, NASCAR and Hollywood marriages.

In the auction business, we too have our share of wrecks. When auctioneers use the term, it refers to a sale that’s so bad no one will get paid.

A typical auction wreck was the time we had a horse sale at an auction market and one of the consignors decided to ride his horse into the auction ring rather than lead it in like everyone else was doing.

I guess his vision was clouded by the whiskey he’d been drinking, because as he rode into the ring his head clobbered a metal pipe overhead.

It knocked him out cold and held up the sale as the ring men dragged his body out of there and dunked him in a water trough to revive him.

Then there was the horse sale when a trainer was showing off and stood up on his saddle to twirl his twine like Will Rogers.

But something spooked the horse, it crow-hopped and the rider came crashing down and did the splits with his crotch bearing the full brunt of the saddle horn. All the guys in the crowd let out a collective groan but the women seemed to really enjoy the show.

My favorite wreck happened recently at a school auction. One of the lots was a tiny two-seater car that would fit in the trunk of any pre-1980 Cadillac.

We often see this at charity auctions – where a dealer will offer a car to a charity and they get to keep everything over his cost.

If the car doesn’t reach the floor price, the car doesn’t sell, the charity gets no money and no one knows it. If the car sells, the car dealer gets some favorable publicity, the buyer gets a good deal and the charity makes a couple hundred bucks. But they’d make more profit selling a $200 cake.

On this occasion a nutritional overachiever who was 6-feet-4 and 300 pounds asked me to refresh his memory by telling him what the floor price was.

He knew the deal since he was on the board of directors. I told him $17,000 and he then stood up in front of the room and made exaggerated bids to show he was a big supporter of the school. But he had no intention of buying the car.

The car dealer must not have liked Mr. Big Shot because he waved me over and said, “Since he really wants the car that bad, go ahead and sell the car if you get $16,000.” Mr. Big Shot thought he was safe in bidding $16,500 because it was under the floor price of $17,000, but much to his chagrin we went ahead and sold him the car.

Boy, was he surprised! The car dealer, who seemed to really be enjoying himself, then asked if we’d get a picture for promotional purposes with the buyer inside the car. (Wink, wink.) Mr. Big Shot made several attempts to get in by himself but we had to resort to brute force and push the full-figured buyer into the tiny car.

When the picture came out in the newspaper, there was body tissue oozing from every orifice of the car.

The tires looked flat and the buyer’s frightened face was flattened against the front window. By the look on his face, I’d guess he was sitting on the gear shift.  end mark