LIVE LOCAL, LIVE SMALL: Road tripping for sink fraud

Jul 11 • FEATURE SIDEBAR, Live Local, NEWS & VIEWSNo Comments on LIVE LOCAL, LIVE SMALL: Road tripping for sink fraud

“You know, Chris Rock has a bit about how ATMs should have some sort of warning on them when you try to withdraw money at like 4 in the morning—like, ‘Do you really want to do this?’ Because there is nothing good that you are spending money on at that time of night.’”

GO FOR A SINK, COME BACK WITH A TYPEWRITER:  In her journey for a cast-iron sink, Gwenfar returned from Asheboro, NC, with a typewriter instead. Photo by John Wolfe

GO FOR A SINK, COME BACK WITH A TYPEWRITER: In her journey for a cast-iron sink, Gwenfar returned from Asheboro, NC, with a typewriter instead. Photo by John Wolfe

My friend, Eric, grinned.

“I think that’s how it all started.” I nodded my head. “I was combing Craigslist at 1 a.m. That’s not a good time for rational decision-making.”

“I think that’s when most people look at Craigslist,” Eric chuckled.

“Yeah, ‘sink fraud’—who knew?”

I have been shopping for a double-basin cast-iron farmhouse sink, with two drain boards, for a while. I have several different projects going on, but that is one I come back to periodically. Well, primarily, when I can’t sleep. Then I surf Craigslist.

Now, I can reporcelain a sink, so I do not need something in immaculate condition. But it should be solid and 60 to 66 inches in length. Jock was out of town, so I had access to his pickup truck, and John was available for a day of driving when a sink popped up that was exactly what I wanted. I sent John the listing; he made arrangements.

“You are sure this guy is going to be around in the middle of the day? He doesn’t need us to come in the evening?” I asked. “The middle of the day when most people are at work?”

“He said he would be around all day,” John confirmed. We were expected to arrive in Seagrove around lunch time.

OK, I thought. We leave at 9 a.m., drive to Seagrove, get the sink, have a quick lunch, maybe get to look at one of the potteries, hit the road, and we should be back to the dogs by about 4 p.m. Sounds doable.

Seagrove pottery is quite famous. It seemed a shame to drive all the way without seeing at least one potter in action. I explained our plans to Anthony when he asked why I wasn’t going to be available that day.

“You’re driving three hours each way for a sink?” he asked in disbelief.

“Yes,” I nodded. “If I am going to spend the rest of my life with it, it needs to be the one I want.”

He rolled his eyes and walked off to shelve a stack of books, while grumbling about my priorities and decision-making process.

John and I had a lovely drive out to Seagrove. We stopped at Oxendine Produce on Hwy 74 for peaches, boiled peanuts and sodas. About 45 minutes away from our destination, John sent the guy a text to let him know where we were. Fifteen minutes later John got a reply the guy was still in Asheboro.

“Do you have an ETA?” John sent back.

We didn’t get an answer but decided to at least find our destination. Then if we needed to get lunch and come back, we could.

Our directions brought us to a nice grouping of trailers. It looked like “family land”: Mom and Dad had some land and a trailer. One of the kids got married and they put a trailer on part of the land for them. Then the next kid got married—and so on and so forth. There were nice flowers, some flags in the yard and children’s toys.

“So we’re here…” John left a voicemail. “Parked next to an open shed with two tractors and a mini-van.”

About the time he hung up, the world’s nicest pit bull wandered up and presented her tummy to be rubbed. John finally got a call back. Apparently, the sink, which had been in storage and was supposed to be delivered to the guy at the trailer, was now at his parent’s antique store—“just up the road.” He asked if we wanted to follow him there. We agreed, though not without me questioning why he hadn’t just sent us to the antique store in the first place. That would have been easier—and a little more legitimate. About 10 minutes later, we bade farewell to the pit bull and followed a broken-down Kia sedan with three people and a chihuahua out of the driveway.

“Goat-zeebo!” I pointed to a yard with a beautiful gazeebo with a heard of goats congregating around it to get out of the light drizzle. “This is getting weird.”

“Well, I feel better we are headed into town instead of farther into nowhere,” John observed.

Indeed, we had come into Seagrove proper, which was really quite darling. But, about the time John finished his sentence, we passed through and were on the highway.

“This is different from my definition of ‘right up the road,’” I grumbled. Thirty minutes later, we pulled up in front of an antique store in Asheboro. While we looked for a parking space, the guy jumped out of his Kia, ran into the antique store and came running out with the sink over his shoulder. It was like some sort of weird cross between Jesse James and Brett Favre, but with a surfboard-sized sink.

Did he just steal a sink from an antique store? Because running down the street like that is a bit surprising, to say the least.

“OK, let’s put this down and take a look at it.” I gestured toward the sidewalk to try to forestall him throwing it in the back of the pickup truck.

John looked at the sink. He looked at me. He looked at the sink. He looked back at me. In spite of my extremely talkative nature, I seemed to be at a loss for words.

“What do you think, Gwen?” he finally asked.

I looked at John. I looked at the guy. I looked at the sink. I looked at the front door of the antique store, but no one came running out yelling. Finally, I managed to speak.

“I’m a bit surprised. I was expecting something that would take four to six people to lift.”

We installed a single-basin cast-iron sink in The Loft above the bookstore, which took five people to get up the stairs. Then four got it on the steel stand Jock made for it. When we turned the sink over to look at the underside, it was clear it was a stainless steel sink, which someone had sprayed a porcelain coating on top.

“Naw, this is original cast iron—it’s lighter. It’s a new alloy they made antiques out of.”

I looked at John. His jaw was hanging open in surprise.

“Well, I’m sorry to have wasted your time, to have put you to so much trouble, but it’s not what I thought it was.”

I signaled John and we turned to go.

“Well, I’m a good country boy—I treat people right. I’ve driven three hours to deliver things…” He launched into a soliloquy that was worthy of a Dickens character it was so varied, circular and passionate.

I apologized again and declined.  “Breathe!” I commanded myself as we walked away.

“You want to look in here?” John pointed at a different antique store.

“Yeah, I probably need to calm down before we drive,” I agreed. “That looked pretty sketchy: running out of the store with the sink over his shoulder. You know, if he had brought us into the store, I probably would have bought something, even if it wasn’t the sink.”

I shook my head.

“I own a retail store and let me tell you, we always want people to come inside to do business.”

John laughed, then pointed at a nice typewriter in a case. We knelt down and tested the keys.

“It needs a new ribbon,” John noted.

Back at the truck John negotiated rearranging things in the front seat in order to make room for the typewriter.

“Who knew?” I shook my head.

“What?” John stopped and gave me a look to assess if he had moved something he shouldn’t have.

“Sink fraud,” I said. “It never occurred to me. But we are victims of a fraudulent sink.”

We started laughing.

“I can picture the headlines now, like in those old men’s magazines, ‘I was a victim of sink fraud! You could be next! Learn the signs!’”

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