As is, Where is and Other Sad Tales | JIM FURLONG

It is the most unlikely of  places to awaken an emotion, in particular sadness. 

I was flipping through The Telegram the other evening, but it might as well have been any evening paper in North America. 

What caught my attention wasn’t the wars and conflicts  across the world. It wasn’t the economy or our nation’s state of affairs. It wasn’t  the murders in our cities although they are horrible enough and it  wasn’t even the death notices. Instead, what grabbed me by the heart were the “classified” filling the back pages of the paper. There were the usual things like an application for a fish plant operation or permission to open a bar somewhere or other. A litany of  business proposals and transactions. But, upon closer reflection, those pages were very much something else. They were also a broad public chronicle of dreams and hopes and plans now dead.

Hidden in the little boxes of “the classified” section were those black edged items calling for the sale or auction of goods and property.  

Those boxes were the work of legal firms engaged in legitimate legal business. They were selling stuff by tender or auction and generally speaking, it was stuff, belonging to people to make good on debts or unresolved legal situations. The lawyers were notifying the public of houses to be sold and land going to the highest bidder. Always the arrangement was framed by those horrible words; “as is where is.”  

In other words the sale is final with no promises other than pay your money and if you are the high bid, you own whatever is on the block.  

There were as well the “smaller” transactions, like  the contents of a storage locker, likely being sold to cover unpaid fees. The sale announcement usually is accompanied by the usual description: Items to be auctioned include miscellaneous household goods, furniture toys etc. How sad is that.  

Who owned the toys or the furniture or the miscellaneous household goods and how did they end up under the keen eye of an auctioneer? Was it the detritus of a divorce or a lost job or a death or maybe the hard luck of  the dislodged. All these people had hopes and dreams now dashed by a stranger with a rapid  tongue and the crack of a gavel.  

Lots of plans gone wrong. Lots of once promising relationships broken forever. Lots of business ideas turned to dust. As “the immortal bard” Robbie Burns said: “The best laid schemes of mice and men …”