Wednesday, July 8, 2015

The Abe G. and the Dildo Story

                                          The Abe G. and the Dildo Story
                                                              1985
                                 Written 2012 and rewritten 01/2016 unedited
                                                         A true story                            
                                                      Howard Yasgar
                                 
      This true story actually started in 1971, and to this day I don’t know if the situation that transpired should be considered funny or not. I know that at the time that it happened, I felt pretty bad about it and I certainly wished it had never happened.
      Over the years, I have scratched my head many times, wondering if I could, or should have done anything differently.
      In 1971, our automotive parts company was located in Miami and was called “API”, which was an abbreviation for Automotive Parts Industries.
      In 1971, Miami was becoming the hub for export to all of the Caribbean as well as Central and South American countries.
Although our company had originally started out as a local automotive electrical parts wholesaler, it was because of our location in Miami that we had overseas parts dealers ere coming in to see us almost every day. It seemed like they were coming in to us from just about every country in the Americas.
     All the parts dealers that were coming to Miami were all real entrepreneurs, they not only bought our electrical automotive parts, but they would buy pretty much anything automotive that we had in stock.
     They wanted to buy anything that they could sell in their country, as long as they could buy it cheap.
     It soon became obvious to us that anything we had, if priced cheap enough would sell, so by 1975 we had started producing a catalog, under a new company name, that we called Rebuilders Supply Company of Miami. The catalog started out with only about   six pages that I typed out at my desk with my IBM Selectric II typewriter, it had all hand drawn or photo copied pictures, but eventually after a few years that catalog grew to be eighty seven pages, and we were sending copies to automotive electrical rebuilders everywhere, it was getting to the attention of buyers around the world.  
     For me, making the catalog was a lot of fun, every month I started to look for all kinds of new automotive surplus items. I looked for just about anything I could buy cheap and put into the catalog at a low price, and it seemed like the more items I put in the catalog, the more importers came to Miami to see us.
     It was just amazing, some mornings I would come to work and there would be several importers from South America waiting for us to open our doors, and they all had their attache cases filled with lots of U.S. money. Some days there were so many customers waiting to buy, that it presented us with another problem, as we ran out of inventory. So
Then it became obvious to us that we needed more cheap automotive parts for the importers to buy.
      We understood that there was a reason all of these importers needed to buy merchandise very cheap. It was because they had to find and buy U.S. Currency, pay to come to Miami, then pay the freight to ship the stuff back to their countries, then pay the import duties and then on top of it they had to make a profit.
      So for us to fill this need, we started finding and doing business with several surplus automotive parts dealers that were located in Detroit and Chicago. We had found that those cities seemed to be the hub of where we could find quantities of cheap automotive parts.
      Now, finding an honest, bona fide surplus dealer, was no easy trick for us, as the surplus dealers were people that were in a class of their own, each one was special.
      These guys had to know how to buy excess surplus merchandise at lower than rock bottom prices. They usually bought parts that were left over excess from a manufacturer, or they sometimes bought scrap material that was still useable but had been thrown away for one reason or another. Sometimes they bought discontinued items, or even parts from companies that were going bankrupt. Their sources of supply were varied and their business depended on their enginuity.
      As we got to know them, we found that most of these dealers didn’t only buy automotive parts, but they were liable to buy anything, as long as it was cheap.
      They bought all kinds of things, from tools, to auto parts, to motorbikes and even pin ball machines, and soon we also started buying all this kind of stuff from them, and then we sent it all to Miami.
     My partner Don and I would travel to Chicago and Detroit on buying trips every few weeks, and on each trip up north, we never knew what we would find as we walked through the different surplus parts dealers warehouses.
      After a while, we ended up zoning in on a few friendly and somewhat honest people that got in the types of merchandise that we could buy at the right price.
      Once we found who we found out which companies were the rights, it was important for us that we developed a good working relationship with the owners, because we had to trust them with our money.   
      In Detroit, we started doing business Barney Kaplan of Barney Kaplan Surplus Company, called B.K.S.
      Some days, Barney would call us in Miami and tell us about a deal that was available in Detroit or Chicago, and we would send him the money and we would trust him to buy on our behalf.  It wasn’t long before Barney in Detroit became our close personal friend.    
      In Chicago we started doing business with two other surplus dealers, both were located on Canal Street. One of them was a company called Fleet Supply.
      Fleet Supply was owned by Billy Keen and his partner George Lustig. We found that Billy and George specialized in heavy duty parts for trucks, but we really never knew what they would have in their inventory. So every trip to Chicago we always stopped in to see them and what they had new for us. Our relationship with them grew so good that when George was seventy, he invited me to his birthday party in Chicago.
      Located right down the Street from Fleet Supply, was another big surplus dealer, the company was called Automotive Surplus, and it was run by a fellow named Abe Greenstein. When we met Abe, we found, that he also bought and sold all kinds of automotive surplus, just what we needed.
     Once we got to know him, we learned that in the 1950’s Abe and Barney Kaplan of BKS in Detroit, were old friends, and in the early days, Abe had an office in Chicago that they both used to work out of. Barney of BKS, said that they were like two peas in a pod, both buying and selling out of the back of an old panel truck. Barney said that both of them were so hard up for money, that if one of them was invited out for supper they heated up leftover food for lunch the next day on their office radiator. He said they only had lunch if one of them had been invited out for supper the evening before, and someone else had paid for the meal.
     Even though they had all been friends, over the years, the relationship between Barney, George, and Abe Greenstein had become strained, they all did business together, but only begrudgingly.
     Each of the dealers spoke badly about the other, and neither, George nor Barney liked Abe Greenstein at all.
      Regardless, my partner Don and I always found Abe to be a very friendly fellow, he was a short guy about 5 foot 4 inches tall, with a long nose and he wore a toupee. To make matters even worse, Abe wore stilted shoes and plaid pants. He also had what was called a Napoleonic complex, so if you ever went out for supper with Abe, he would always complain to the waiter about everything. He would order a drink called a Rob Roy. But it was always sent back because it was too hot or too cold. He would always order a butterflied steak, which he also always sent back to the kitchen for one reason or another. It was very obvious to everyone that because of Abe’s size and appearance, and the fact that he had too much money, Abe had developed the Napoleonic complex, and it was embarrassing for anyone to ever be with him in a restaurant.
      Besides from that, Abe was always jealous of us doing business with the other dealers like Barney Kaplan and George Lustig, but sometimes this really worked to our advantage.
      Every time we went in to see Abe, We already knew, that Abe knew, we had already been at his competitor’s place up the street from him, So Abe always treated us as nice as could be.
      Abe Greenstein liked to specialize in several things. He bought lots of rejected parts from auto parts manufacturers, then he set up a bench and re tested everything. For example, Abe bought thousands of rejected stop light switches from a Chicago manufacturer, and he had a girl set up to bench test them. He bought them for scrap by the pound, and sold the good ones for fifteen cents apiece. We bought thousands of them, and sold them for twenty five cents each in Miami.
       Another thing that Abe specialized in was what was called “Dealer Buy Back items”, this was a very specialized business.
      Back in the 1970’s there were quite a few major brand automotive parts manufacturing companies that were all vying against each other to get their products into the automotive parts stores. They wanted the parts stores to sell only their brand of products. So to do this, the manufactures salesman was authorized to remove the auto parts stores entire old stock, then replace it all with all new material with his factories brand name on it.
      It was then then that Abe would buy all that old stock that was removed for nearly nothing, he bought it by the pound, promising to remove it from the marketplace by exporting it.
      So when we first met Abe, he had pallet boxes filled with all sorts of automotive radiator hoses and boxes filled with thousands of mixed automotive fan belts. We were elated, as we paid Abe fifty cents apiece for all the radiator hoses and fan belts.  We loaded trailers trucks in Chicago and shipped everything to Miami where we sold the items to exporters for one dollar each. Needless to say, we did a lot of business with Abe Greenstein, and Abe’s suppliers were happy because we were selling everything for export, guaranteeing that the parts left the country. We were selling this stuff as fast as Abe could ship it to us.
      One day in 1980, Abe told me that he had developed a partnership with a fellow in the Philippines. He said that the reason was so he could ship machinery and equipment to Manilla, and his partner would sell it, and then pay Abe’s share back to him in cash, no U.S. income tax was involved.
      Every few months Abe would fly back and forth to the Philippines, he explained it all to me in great detail.
       I knew that Abe had no real social life in Chicago, as he wasn’t what you would call a ladies man, he was short and balding and he looked and dressed strange. I had said that Abe was a real complainer whenever anyone went out with him, so I knew that no one wanted to go out with him.
      So, now I thought it was a good that Abe had something interesting to do like traveling to the Philippines.
      One day I suggested to Abe that when he went to Manilla he should make arrangements to fly down to Miami first and stay with me for a few days. Since we were such good friends and we were probably one of his best customers.
        Sure enough, on his next few trips to Manilla, Abe came to Miami and stayed at my house. After doing this several times, Abe confided in me that it wasn’t all business he was doing in the Philippines. Abe said that in the Manilla all the women treated him like gold, and he had a lot of girlfriends there. He said, the women in Manilla didn’t make fun of him like in Chicago, it was then I realized that it was not the money Abe was after, it was the short pretty girls that he liked, and I could see Abe was now a becoming a changed man.
       One day when I went to Abe’s office in Chicago, and there was a young Asian girl sitting at the front desk. Abe said he wanted me to meet his new secretary named Myrna.
       Myrna was from the Philippines and looked to be about 20 years old, she spoke a little English, so I watched her, as she sat at the desk piling up and then un-piling all the junk mail.
       Abe explained that Myrna was the daughter of his partner in Manilla and was now going to be his new secretary in Chicago.
       When we left Abe’s office we had to laugh, it was obvious Myrna knew nothing about being a secretary, but we said it was good for our friend Abe to have a girlfriend.
       It wasn’t long before we received a card in the mail announcing that there was going to be a stag party for Abe and it also was an invitation to the pending wedding of Abe Greenstein and his pretty fiancé Myrna.
       Every day whenever I spoke to anyone that knew Abe, we discussed what we could do to organize Abe’s stag party, but the timing was very bad for us and neither my partner nor I knew if we could attend, but either way we knew we needed to send him something funny for a stag party present.
       My partner Don and I pondered the question of what kind of gift to get Abe for his stag party, Abe was already a millionaire and had everything, so we couldn’t come up with any good ideas.
       Then one afternoon, my partner and I were in South Miami for a meeting with our attorney. As we left the attorneys office, we stopped in a strip mall to get a sandwich, and as we left the sandwich shop, there was a novelty store next door, so we both went in to see what they had.
       We were surprised, they had all kinds of stuff, and in the back of the store they had a display of sexual aids. As we looked, we thought that most of the stuff was pretty funny, especially the big dildo’s that were all made out of colorful silicone rubber. Some were over a foot long and three inches wide.
      Both my partner Don and I had the same idea at the same time, let’s get one of these outrageous dildo’s for Abe’s stag party. It would be more fun than anything else we could think of. They also sold boxes of hard on pills, so we bought a box also.
       The next day we sent the stuff by U.P.S. to Abe’s attention, with a note that it was for display at his stag party, and we were sorry we couldn’t attend.
      Well, two days later my phone rang, and it was Abe.
       He said, “That was an awful thing you did”. I had no idea of what Abe was talking about, so I said, what are you talking about Abe? He said, “You know what I am talking about”. But I was dumbfounded, I had no idea of what he was talking about, but Abe’s voice was very serious, so again I asked him what he was talking about.
       Abe said, “It was that awful thing you sent me”. It was then I realized he was referring to the humorous silicone rubber dildo.
        I thought for sure that Abe was just joking around with me, but he was very serious, and he said, “You both were just lucky that my Myrna didn’t see it”.
       Well, at least now, I knew what Abe was talking about, but I couldn’t believe that he would call me to complain about it, and I admit the entire conversation took me by surprise, and now I was sure Abe was joking.  I said, Abe, we got the dildo as a joke for your stag party, if you don’t like it, just throw it in the waste basket, I waited for an answer but then there was only silence.
      I couldn’t believe anyone would make such a big fuss out of something that was done as a joke in good humor, after all we were good friends with Abe, and we were also good customers, doing over a million dollars a year business with him.
       Again Abe spoke with a really serious voice, he said, I can’t believe you would do a thing like this to me. But now I was getting a bit miffed, I wondered how Abe could keep up the tirade over something so trivial. I again suggested to Abe that he just throw the dildo in the trash, really, I didn’t know what else to say, and I apologized profusely to him.
      Then again Abe said, “You are just lucky my Myrna didn’t see it.” By now I was getting irritated listening to him, so I said, Abe, why the hell are you so worried about Myrna seeing it, boys don’t even wear pants in the Philippines until they are eighteen, do you think Myrna never saw a penis before, get over it.
      With that having been said, Abe hung up the phone, and never spoke to me again, and we also never bought another thing from him again.
   




          

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