Any of you who are aged 50 years old or older will remember the good old days of buying second-hand goods in New Zealand.
They were the days of the Trade & Exchange.
If you wanted a good second-hand fridge for your flat, you would open up the publication and look under a section called “whiteware”. You’d scroll with your finger down the printed listings until an unbelievable deal jumped out at you.
Fridge-freezer. Kelvinator. 1.5m x 1m x 1m. As is where is. Needs new seals. Will swap FWYH. ph 5347895
You’d pick up your landline and frenzy-dial. David would answer at the other end.
Oh Hi David. I’m interested in the fridge in the Trade and Exchange. Would you be keen to swap for a bass amp. It’s been used for busking only.
Bring it around. I’m at 15 Parade Drive, Buckland’s Beach. It has a caravan out the front.
And away you’d go. With the trusty amp in the boot, it seemed like a deal too good to be true. You had the Araldite at the ready to stick the fridge seals back on. You were a complete cheap skate, only one degree removed from Steptoe & Son.
On approach to David’s house, you could see he was a professional T & E’er. Indeed there was a caravan outside. It was white and orange and all the window apertures were rusted out. Next to it was a series of flax bushes surrounded by car tyres. In the entrance way there were two white swan tyre sculptures. The starlings on the front lawn took flight at the sound of your rattling trailer.
David himself was a shaggy individual who looked like he could use a decent shaving-foam shave rather than the quick once-over with the Remington electric that he’d clearly been using for several years. His wife, Barbara, was making white bread sandwiches in the kitchen; it was 12:34pm according to the stove clock.
The kitchen cupboards had a peeling brown wood-panelled verneer on them. The sandwiches looked ok, they were corned beef and mustard.
David would take you out to the garage and show you the fridge. It was a forlorn-looking appliance, the racks inside had lost some of their coatings and the butter conditioner door had broken off. There were no egg holder trays and no ice makers.
You can get those off the Trade & Exchange
David was a gruff individual.
Still, a swap was a swap and David, with absolutely no musical talent whatsoever, took the amp and handtrucked the fridge onto your trailer.
There was no feedback to leave, and all you could really do was just take the old junk and hope that the $5 of petrol and the $50 trailer hire was worth the pain of a trip to Buckland’s Beach.
Later that week you’d notice that David had listed the amp under the musical instruments section, this time requesting a specific swap in the form of a fly-screen door.
You’d moved on though, and were searching for a car radiator for your Mitsubishi Mirage GLX. It had overheated on the way over to pick up a Trade from Westmere and word on the street was that you could DIY another one in. Never mind that it needed a recore, never mind that you’d later spend $150 on coolant, you just wanted the thing to get you through the next few months of your commute to your job at Sounds Unlimited on Queen Street.
David, meanwhile got his fly screen door. It was a manky piece of shit, but he dutifully installed it so that the flies stayed out while Barbara deep-fried their chips in the fryer they scored from Jonathan, another chronically addicted T & E loser.
All was well in David’s rusted-out world. He fingered the brass salad servers on the formica credenza and poured himself a ginger beer (homemade), all the while eyeing up the deep fryer, bubbling enthusiastically on the bench.