In May of 1997 John Patsey's bio prompted a thread of Galootish wisdom. Tom Price started he flood with "some tips on survival during the initial phases of Galoothood, "and everybody who had an opinion joined in:
1. You're a User with a capital U. Never use the 'C' word of your own accord. Let SWMBO come to that conclusion. Some of the Galoots have these amazing Significant Others that go with the flow and just naturally assume that they will be collecting as well as using the tools. You know, as if it were the most natural thing in the world. Usually there is some resistance from SWMBO early on but you could get lucky. Who knows.
2. Don't line up all your widgets in one place until you know where you stand with your SO regarding the 'C' word. Planes especially have a lot of visual impact if you put a bunch of them on a shelf or shelves. Clustered about the shop or house in twos or threes, they don't have nearly the same impact. The ability of SWMBO to discriminate between the planes, drills, braces, what have you, is typically not highly developed. New ones can pop up here and there and it isn't noticed until you line them up in one spot. Bad idea.
3. Each project must be a reason to acquire a specific tool or tools in order to speed up the work or increase the quality of the finished product. Some guys have milked this for years. This tactic is especially effective if you actually complete some of the projects.
4. Get the William Alden, Garrett Wade, Woodcraft catalogs, etc.. Keep them around and (pay attention now - this is especially important) _after_ you have acquired the ah, breast drill (just for example) start moping around about how the new breast drills are so expensive and the quality sucks yada, yada. Show SWMBO the catalog(s) to prove your point. Then after the appropriate waiting period, magically produce the antique breast drill and gloat about how you paid chump change for it and what a steal it was, ooh and ahh over the quality of it...I think you get my drift. If you hear your SO coming down the basement stairs or out to the garage, pick up your latest acquisition and Look Busy Making Something.
5. Repeat the phrase, "They don't make them like they used to" over and over and over. This is your mantra. Learn it well. Meditate on it. Be at one with it. Whisper it in your SO's ear for a few minutes every night. Then after the initial conditioning period is over, introduce the concept of 'new old tools'.
6. Emphasize the concept of safety and how hand tools are superior in this respect yada, yada. Whatever you do, don't let SWMBO read any of the recurrent threads we have here on Chisel Stab Wounds, How To Get Blood Stains Off Of Wood, etc.. Bad idea.
7. You won't be worth a damn on the First Monday of the Month otherwise known as Flea Market Monday or FMM. You'll have Tool Lust just like all the rest of us. Accept this. Work with it. Schedule around it.
8. This is a lifelong obsessio.. er, hobby. Your life will change in ways you can only dimly perceive.
9. Encourage SWMBO in her own hobby. Especially encourage her to collect something that can be found in antique shops, garage sales, and auctions. When you go out hunting tools, be sure to get at least one of whatever she collects. Be sure to point it out when the item you bought her cost more than what you bought for yourself: "See Carol, I spent $x for those buttons. My new Stanley 68 folding carpenter's rule only cost me $(x-15)."
10. Keep a package of those pre-moistened towelettes handy in your car. Your hands can get pretty nasty after pawing through a few boxes of rusty tools at your flea market of choice. Kinda hard to innocently explain your delay while on a SWMBO Errand when you have rust stains on your hands. Color coordinate your attire appropriately. Dark brown Dockers (cotton trousers tailored for us big-butted baby boomers, Jeff) are excellent at hiding rust stains. Whatever you do, don't slip up and wipe your hands off on the car seats. Bad idea.
11. Forget your Visa card. Flea markets are the last great bastion of raw capitalism and they don't take plastic. Or checks. This is cash only. You're in the Underground Economy now.
12. Take a bag with you. Plastic grocery bags are de riguer. Avoid anything too fancy. One of those L.L. Bean canvas bags is way too effete and will mark you as a yuppie bastahd with money. Bad idea. Double up on the plastic bags if you're going after chisels.
13. Dress to conceal. Don't wear fancy loafers without socks or 'yuppie casual' clothes that make you look like you stepped off your sailboat. You want your old pants with the paint stains and the shirt with same. A rip or two around the knees is a nice touch. Footwear should be coordinated with the rest of the attire. You are striving for the 'part-time handyman scrounging cheap tools' look. If you are ducking out of the office on a Friday afternoon, at least ditch the tie. All bets are off in California. Wear whatever the hell you want there.
14. You see something you want, you step right over and latch onto it. Don't be shy. Pick it up and look it over. Don't put it down until you are absolutely sure that you don't want it. Don't put it down prematurely because I'll be standing behind you and I _will_ pick it up. Remember that. I don't care if you're wearing a Galoot cap or not. I'm right behind you. Don't get absent minded and walk away from the table with it though or the vendor's cousin Bernie, a 300 lb biker with some amazing tattoos, will land on you and retrieve it.
15. When you haggle your way to a good deal, contain your glee. Laughing maniacally and shrieking "Do you know what this thing is really worth??!!!" is guaranteed to cut down on repeat business with the same vendor. Keep a poker face and try to say something polite, like "She ought to clean up pretty good".
16. Don't educate the vendor. You start spouting stuff from Patrick Leach's Stanley Blood and Gore or PTAMPIA or John Walter's new Stanley price guide and you may convince them that you are going to seriously lowball them on that Fantastically Rare Widget you have the death grip on. Of course that is _exactly_ what you are going to try to do but don't telegraph it, for Heavens sake. If they ask you what the thing is for (sometimes they won't have a clue) just scratch your head and mutter, "Beats me, but it looks like I could use it as a paint scraper."
17. Don't dawdle. Even a modest sized flea market can take a while to work through. Walk at a good pace and train your eye to see tools. Forget the rest of the stuff. Saw handles, plane totes, rusty objects are what you are seeking. Learn the pattens of where vendors put the rust such as ends of tables, with garage items, in boxes underneath the tables. Look in the boxes because I'm right behind you and I _will_ look in the boxes. Learn which vendors bring tools but don't forget to check them all out before you leave because you just never know...
18. Keep money in different pockets ($40 in hip pocket, $20 in LHS front pocket, $10 in RHS front pocket, $5 in coins - you're wearing jeans, right?) This enables you to come up with any multiple of $5 from $5 to $75 while still doing the "pull out the contents of the pocket, empty it onto the table, sift through for the money, count it up, etc, routine. "Gee, I know you've got $28 on it, but I've only got $20 here...". And you can still "find" the other money if you need to.
19. Travel with a companion. Harder to organise, but effective if you're willing to put in the work. I often "do" the local flea market with my brother Nick, who lives nearby and shares my tool acquisition desires. He's lurking here, BTW. We'll do a good-guy, bad-guy thing where he picks up something he likes, and I proceed to tell him it's missing a part, or has a non-genuine knob, or he should be getting a so-and-so instead. Mind you, you've got to pick a dealer who has no idea at all. It makes the dealers nervous. Nick looks doubtful, dealer looks at him, he makes a half-offer, then stops. I say something more derogatory about the tool (not rude, you understand, just something like "Well, if you want to spend your moeny on _that_...") and dealer makes him an offer.
20. Final "two-on-one" technique. I find something, point it out to Nick. He goes in and low-balls the dealer. If he gets it, we're OK. If he doesn't, I can go in and a) know what won't work, b) have lowered the dealer's expectations, and c) not offend the dealer.
21. I can't believe we've left out one of the oldest bargaining tricks in the book: "Just a minute, I gotta ask the missus." Val and I use this to our advantage. We both approach a booth, and she scowls disapprovingly, usually moving off in mock disgust (although sometimes I'm not too sure). This display is clearly visible to the vendor, and works best on men. It's sort of a version of good-cop/bad-cop, only the bad cop is in absentia. I pretend to be the harried, hen-pecked husband (I do this remarkably well... a little too well), and negotiate my best deal. Then I drop the "gotta ask..." bomb on them, and start to leave. This causes a rather surprising panic from the vendor, as he sees his sale go down the tubes. This works especially well on vendors who don't specialize in tools. It is also effective when the tool is rather heavy, as the vendor would rather a big burly Galoot like me, haul it off, than he having to drag it back to his car. The ironic thing is that SWMBO is usually the one who spots tools at the swap meets. I think it exploits the notion that you and the vendor are no longer at odds with one another, but are two *men* trying to solve a problem, mostly to undermine the authority of the female. Heh heh, if they only knew.
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