Charlie's Blog: Toys



There are two good days in a boat owner's life. The first day is when he buys the boat. The second day is when he sells it.

I am not a fan of toys. I hate toys. These are not the toys that kids like to play with such as firetrucks, Legos, and action figures. These are those ridiculous big boy toys such as the muscle car, the motorcycle, the ATV, the RV, the bass boat, and on and on. I despise those toys, and I despise them for good reasons.

The seed of my antipathy for toys was planted when I was young watching my dad blow time, money, and energy on cars, a camper, a boat, and a motorcycle. I watched him outgrow these impulses as he gravitated to more useful things like work trucks, lawnmowers, tractors, and backhoes. For some reason, those things got used way more than the boat. This is because those things were tools. But I am getting ahead of myself.

Unlike my old man, I never got into toys. I never cared for them. Part of the reason was because I was cerebral and would rather read books or listen to music than ride motorcycles or go fishing. Another part of the reason was hearing my old man make jokes about other dads running up their credit cards to buy these toys. As far as I know, the old man always paid cash for his toys until he stopped buying them completely. Regardless, my disdain for toys began early for me. I never bought any of this crap.

For my peers, it was a different story. All of my blue collar working friends liked two things--toys and financing those toys. I noticed that I always drove the oldest car or truck in the lot while everyone else upgraded to new Jeeps, muscle cars, and sports cars. Some drove shiny new Harley-Davidson motorcycles. My dream car has always been a work truck. You can get things done with a truck. For my peers, a truck is just what you need to pull your boat trailer, your motorcycle trailer, your ATV trailer, or your RV.

I never had the money for these toys. My peers didn't have it either. But the financing is always there to turn your dreams into nightmares. I've never known anyone who paid straight cash for a brand new bass boat. Needless to say, the purchase of these toys on credit turn into ticking time bombs waiting for a layoff or economic downturn to obliterate the lifestyles of these fools.

In 2007 and 2008 when the housing market imploded, I noticed many toys in front yards with FOR SALE signs on them. It bugged me that so many people had wasted so much for equipment of leisure. The seeds of my disdain for toys blossomed into a tree of hatred that still lives and grows today. I can't stand watching hardworking people fall into this trap. If you wonder why the rich get rich while the poor stay poor, it all comes down to those toys and the financing of their purchase.

I do not believe in buying toys. I prefer to buy tools. The work truck is the top tool for a man. The second would be a good mower or lawn tractor. The third would be a utility trailer for those tools. A tractor is also useful. These things have zero sex appeal. They aren't fun. You can't brag about owning them. I suspect people buy toys to impress other people. I don't care what other people think about me.

I would like to believe that people learned some lessons from those bad economic times, but they haven't. In my neighborhood, the neighbor across the street owns two bass boats. Another neighbor bought a muscle car. Down the road, there is a guy who owns four boats and an RV camper. People regularly go down my street on ATVs and golf carts. And to rub dirt in the wound, they pay lawn services to come mow their yards. The mind boggles. I won't get into the cars except to say that a visiting relative said our neighborhood resembled a car dealership with all of the vehicles she saw.

The Gentle Reader may accuse me of being Mr. No Fun, but I am fun. I think I am a lot of fun because I am not stressed about making the payments on useless toys. But I think it is possible to have fun without ruining your life and finances in the process. For instance, you can fish off of a bank, dock, or pier. You don't need a boat for that. But if you still want a boat, you can always rent a boat for the two times a year you actually go fishing. There are also cheap and used boats that will get you on the water as good as a brand new boat. You just don't get to impress your buddies. And the fish don't care. As for the RV thing, rent a cabin for the other two times a year you go on vacation. When it comes to leisure, you are always better off renting.

I believe in cheap fun which is a topic for another post. I just refuse to take the bait that I need to borrow money and buy crap in order to enjoy life. I find the worldliness behind this stupidity to be utterly bizarre. But that is the fate of blue collar people. They are too stupid to say no to this garbage. The company store never died.

I watch working class men take the bait every time it is cast before them. A mechanic and homesteader on YouTube bought a boat. Why? A co-worker bought a muscle car in his retirement. Why? Do they let you drive your age instead of the speed limit? But I know they will pay a price for all this. The boat owner usually gets bored with the thing and takes a 50% loss when he sells the boat a few years later. Others will find themselves looking at foreclosure on their homes and will try to liquidate these toys in their desperation. Or, they will drive to work in their toy only to come back to the parking lot to see it repossessed. That would be funny if it wasn't so sad and pathetic.

Don't buy toys. Buy tools instead. Let hard work be your sport and hobby. And if you want to have fun, turn on the radio and sit in a chair or go for a walk. Those things are relatively free which makes them more enjoyable. I manage to have a good time each day, and it doesn't cost me anything.