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Adventures in eBayland

Anton’s small returns make him consider digging for gold in the garden a more productive option.

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My 13-year-old son is not avaricious, but he is quietly mindful of the significance of Saturday mornings, when his allowance is due. Patiently, and without ceremony, he waits for me to rise, shower, and have my breakfast. Only then does he announce, “You owe me $5.” I pay up, and Anton goes to his room to squirrel the cash away.

I realize that five bucks is a fairly piddling sum in today’s inflationary world. I have been looking for ways to get a little more mazuma into Anton’s growing hands without forking it over outright. A mown lawn here, a snow-shoveled driveway there helps out, but my son really wants to work and is in the unfortunate position of simply being too young to get a paying job, however willing his spirit.

We talked about this, and I wound up suggesting that he put some of his unwanted or outgrown things on eBay. “EBay?” he echoed, and wondered aloud if he could really earn enough money to make it worth the effort of writing text, uploading photos, and shipping goods, with no guarantee of a sale. “Sure,” I told him. “People will buy almost anything.” And then I described how, only a year ago, two sisters in Virginia had sold a cornflake shaped like Illinois for $1,350.

Anton’s eyes bugged out. “Whoa,” he said, and immediately began to go through his things. Within the hour he came up with a couple of computer game CDs in which he had lost interest. I posted them under my account name. By the end of the week someone had won them for $6. A modest figure, but Anton was ecstatic. He had entered the world of honest commerce.

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