Everyday Heroes: Pawn Star

A few years ago I worked in a pawn shop, it was only for a month or two, but it was an extremely depressing experience. The shop was in Neath and there was a steady stream of punters. Either people having to buy second hand goods or else down on their luck and wandering in to sell their once treasured possesions for pitifully small amounts.

I loathed working there. The boredom, the sad, worn out faces of the customers. It didn’t help that we only had 1 CD in the shop, and I’d have to listen to the same songs on a loop for the entire day. To give you an idea of how bad the disc was- R Kelly’s “Bump and Grind” was far and away the best song on there.

The pricing up things that people hadn’t bought back. We sold a bike once, a kid’s bike. Just taking it down from the storage room and putting a “for sale” sticker on it was heartbreaking. They had to sell their kid’s bike, just for a few quid. That must’ve been a low moment for all concerned, and they hadn’t got back within the period we held stuff for, and the kid would never see their bike again.

That was the worst thing. My boss was a total bastard. He’d buy things off people for a pittance then flog them for a profit, he used to say that the reason he bought them for less was because of VAT, which was about 17% at the time, but he once bought a PS2 for £35. We’d sell them on for close to £90.

He was also a total douche. He’d give you grief for no reason and there was no seat behind the counter so you’d have to stand all day, and he’d give you shit if you leant on the counter or anything.

I’m guessing running a pawn shop isn’t exactly the kind of career that’ll attract saints, there is an edge of exploitation in the whole concept, but this guy seemed naturally suited to it.

But today, I stumbled across this story, which shows that even in the depressing world of pawn shops there are genuine moments of niceness. An American pawn shop owner was bought a Purple Heart by a customer who wanted to sell it.

For those who don’t know, and if you’re British and haven’t watched as many war movies as me you might not, a Purple Heart is the medal awarded by the American military to soldiers wounded or killed while serving.

Its kind of a big deal, and the pawn shop owner suspected that the customer wasn’t the rightful owner and purchased it for $30, but whereas my former boss would’ve slapped a price tag on it, this guy didn’t buy it to turn a profit.

He bought the medal so that he could identify the recipient and ensure that it got back to the family of the Private who died in action during the Korean war. The owner of the store said:

“It doesn’t belong in this shop and I’d like to return it.”

And so he tried to find the family of the dead soldier, but so far hasn’t. Hopefully he will, because its sad that this poor dude’s legacy has wound up being that the medal commemorating his sacrifice has been hocked by some bloke looking for fast cash.

So I just thought I’d share this story as it kind of restored my faith in mankind a little bit.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. TTFN.

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