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Monday, October 25, 2010


In my days of yore there were several categories of what could be called rip-off characters.

Leading the pack was the used car dealers. They were not very honest even though some of them would call themselves “Honest John” or the like. You knew you had made a good deal if the car you bought would run long enough to get it off the car lot. They knew every trick in the book about how to cheat a customer. They would put gear lube in the crankcase instead of oil to quieting the engine from knocking.

Another trick was to taking bald tires and re-grooving them. Sometimes they would cut the groove all the way down to the tread and then paint it with black paint to disguise it. Another thing they used was the warranty, but if you had trouble you had to have their garage fix it. There were always things that were not covered by the warranty that cost you more than if you had taken to a legitimate dealer to have the work done.

Before my car experience I had observed my kin folks dealing with horse traders. They were the precursors of the used car dealers. In order to reduce the skullduggery of the dishonest traders, our town set up a place where you could lie, cheat and steal in your dealings. It was called the jockey yard.

Outside the yard all deals had to be as represented or the law would intervene but inside it was buyer beware. Most deals were shady but if you were smart enough you could make out okay. This is what caused guys to keeping back, when they wanted to try to beat the odds. This was a challenge, a duel of wits that guys enjoyed.

I used to like to watch deals being made and I remember one where there was a good looking mule for sale. I knew enough about “horse flesh” to do a quick check, you start at one end and go from there to the other end and lastly check the teeth.

Right off I spotted a flaw, and stood aside feeling smart and waited to see what others thought about it. 

The first thing I looked at was his eyes and knew immediately he couldn’t see.  While I knew the animal was blind I didn’t say anything because it wasn’t any of my business.

The animal looked like a fine mule and people would give him the once over and then they would move on until a guy came up and saw he was a sleek looking beast and he started to bargain with the trader. Finally there was a deal struck and money was changed. The buyer left with his new mule and after awhile he came back, extremely distraught to say he wanted his money back.

He had finally discovered what the defect was with the mule. The trader said a deal was a deal and explained what the rules of the jockey yard were. The man left leading his blind mule and feeling badly about his purchase.

When horse trading the non- professional never knew for sure if he got the best deal or even a good deal.

Once my uncle had a nice young filly and he concluded that she would only be good for riding and he needed a work horse. We knew a trader and tried to trade the filly for a large work horse. After a lot of jockeying back and forth the trader said oh, I can’t get rid of Bonnie, I’m a fool about old Bonnie. About this time we knew the deal was done we wanted a straight across deal and he was trying to get some boot, something extra.

Finally the deal was made, a straight across trade and we left feeling good about the transaction. The mare was a good work horse but one morning when we went to the barn yard there stood a colt. Bonnie was in foal and we didn’t know. When the trader found out bonnie had a colt he felt he should receive some pay for the colt for in his mind he had only bargained for the mare and the colt was a separate deal.

We felt he should get something so we gave him the horse laugh.

There have been a multitude of laws passed to protect us from the modern day version of the old horse traders but it is still a case of let the buyer beware.

These con artists are lurking around every corner seeking whom they may devour. Check out this story!

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