Freudian Slips: Sanford and Son

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Location: Irony, New Jersey, United States

Life takes us many places. It's a box of chocolates and a Hansel and Gretal trail of candy wrappers. I have filmed as an actor in The Happening, Invincible, The Lovely Bones, The Bounty Hunter, The Greek American, Bazookas, Limitless, TV's Its Always Sunny in Philly, Outlaw, New York, The Warrior, The Nail, Game Change, Cold Case, & commercial work includes The Philadelphia Eagles, Septa, Coors, Turbo Tax & Carnival Cruises. Freudian Slips spotlights irony in short story format.

January 10, 2006

Sanford and Son

Christmas has to be the worst time of the year to have a car break down. My car leaked oil so bad that the burn onto my engine block had me driving through plumes of gray smoke. My car was scheduled to go into the repair shop the following day for what I anticipated to be a costly repair. As for the moment, its usage was up and back to work only with sincere apologies to the ozone layer. As the smoke distorted the road in front of me, I tried to figure out where to pool the money to best offset the financial pinch. Flanked by trash cans and rubbish curbside, a multi-piece black leather sectional caught my attention. In making a U-turn to get a better look, I left a cloud of cautionary smoke behind me. My second pass garnered further inspection from the least likely of sources, a car in need of engine repair.
So I raced my smokestack of a car home, switched vehicles with my wife, and returned to the trash pile. The sectional was made up of three separate pieces. I found a manufacturer’s tag certifying the furniture as genuine leather. The frame and cushions appeared in superb condition. Black leather was my color and material of choice for the spot I intended it for. Other than the mangled metal frame of the sleeper sofa, I had no idea why the rest of the furniture had been kicked to the curb. I began admiring the middle piece. The wedge boasted a beautiful soft rounded contour U back that qualified it as a stand alone piece.
Smoky engine block aside, things started to really heat up when I heard a loud muffler behind me. I turned. With no shoulder on the country road, a pick-up truck parked at my feet. Two wide-eyed men got out. They looked to be a father and son team. I can best describe them as hungry.
“Are you here for the furniture?” inquired the older Sanford.
“Yes." I nodded. "I have no interest in anything but the furniture.”
I thought to myself. Who do they think I am? I’m a trash picker with high standards. I don’t climb into dumpsters or root through Rubbermaid can refuse. In a subculture of trash pickers, I would be considered upper crust not plain old crust. So I got that going for me.
“Ugh, us too. The furniture.” agreed the younger Sanford.
Now that it had been established that we were all present for a single-minded purpose, they begin fondling my furniture.
“Hold up guys.” I interrupted. “Surely, you guys have heard of Sanford and Son.”
“Yeah, what about it?”
“If that TV show taught us anything, it's the Finders Keepers Losers Weepers mentality that keeps salvage operations civil.”
“Well, do you want the furniture or not?” asked the younger Sanford in an authoritative tone. The older Sanford continued a bloodhound’s scowl.
“I only have use for the center section, the wedge.” I answered. “You guys can have the rest.”
Another pickup truck pulled up to the curb. I heard car doors slam. This was quickly becoming a rally point for free loaders. If the newcomers had an appointment, we were going to need a police officer to settle this matter.
The older Sanford chides me. “Do you really plan on breaking up the set?”
“What set?” My arms motioned back to the trash pile. I almost laughed out loud. “Remember, this is trash we’re talking about. This sectional might have been sold as one unit but it is being salvaged as parts.”
The older Sanford continued leaning into me. “My son Angelo just got an apartment. Angelo say hello to the man. Yeah, we were out shopping for some furniture. There are some nice homes around here. This is nice furniture. The kind we were looking for.”
I concurred, “Genuine leather no less.”
I live in one of the “nice homes” he mentioned only two miles down the road. My sense of enterprise would not be seduced by the guilt trip. By now, Sanford and Son had successfully wedged the sleeper sofa frame back in its stowaway compartment. They were sizing up their take. That’s when the situation got personal.
“Are you by yourself?” asked the older Sanford.
“By myself.” I confessed to being in buisness for myself.
He further probed, “Is that your minivan?”
“Yes. Don’t get any ideas. It’s not trash.”
I soon realized the operational breakdown. Moving this furniture was meant for two people with the right mode of transportation. I was a heartbeat short of bringing it home and these guys didn’t have the heart to lend a grubby hand carrying what still could be their furniture. I don't blame them. The other problem was that my minivan could not fit the smallest wedge of furniture. Both sets of trash pickers slyly surveyed the desperate moment. I felt that the situation could turn at any moment.
“Angelo, did you hear that? This guy is all by his lonesome. He’s not going to be able to transport the goods in that minivan. Let’s wait him out.”
"Yeah, we were here second."
Now they conveniently adopted the Finders Keepers Losers Weepers universal rule of thumb. Statements like that only make me more determined. I walked the cushion over to the minivan and tossed it inside. Admittedly, it was the easier of the prerequisite steps but the important one in establishing rightful ownership of discarded property.(refer to Sanford and Son episode 14)
After summoning the Greek Gods of Atlas and Hercules, I picked up the center sectional over my head and carried it to the minivan. What I was going to do with the furniture if I got it to the minivan remained to be seen. Freudian Slips would call it either the seat of the problem or a moving experience. The closer I got to paydirt, the more it became apparent that it would not fit in the cabin. I stood on my tippy toes and lifted the furniture atop the never used roof rack. A few deep breaths later, I fell behind the wheel. I enacted the hazard lights and slowly rolled my minivan with cargo past my disbelieving acquaintances. I waved adios to the crowd. You had to see their faces.
This concludes the story of how a beautiful piece of furniture came to offset an untimely car repair bill. And yes, my car bill totaled the price of one leather loveseat.
- actual piece of furniture now in my basement. It seats two people rather comfy.



Anonymous et said...

Joe, you truly learned your lessons well! All those forced, treasure hunting, yard-sailing days, when you were a child,
has paid off handsomely!

7:20 AM  
Blogger Joe Tornatore said...

the greatest lesson in treasure hunting I have yet to learn - bring a flatbed to the scene for pickup.

8:27 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Joe I have been to many yard sales with your teacher and loved every minute of it. She would say Let's go to Wildwood and I would always be up for it. 27 yard sales later we entered the "City of Wildwood". I was having a lot of fun reading this story and just as I got to the part where you call in the Greek Gods, hercules & Altas, I got called into the kitchen. On my way to the kitchen I was thinking Good Job Joe, you had the sense to call in your brothers "Jimmy" Atlas and "T" Hercules. Good use of a cell phone. I've never been more proud of you. Imagine my surprise when I read the next sentence. I could picture you bounding back to the van with the chair on top of your head. I couldn't stop laughing. What a great story!!!!

Catherine Mary

5:09 PM  
Blogger Joe Tornatore said...

catherine mary,
this meatball is strong.

6:37 PM  
Blogger Catherine Mary said...


7:34 PM  
Blogger honkeie2 said...

Were in NJ do you live again lol. No body around me here in Union county dumps anything worth pulling over for. Last thing I go was a vanity for my wife about 2 years ago that she still uses to this day. But my finds are few and far between.

10:56 AM  
Blogger Joe Tornatore said...

Isn't that like sharing where buried treasure is? My brother was down from Connecticut on that day. I am surprised he didn't get there first.

6:43 PM  
Blogger PaxRomano said...

Now poor Angelo is probably sitting on empty milk-crates supported by cinder blocks in his railroad apartment somewhere in Salem County ... for shame!

7:32 PM  
Blogger Joe Tornatore said...

Trash day in my neighborhood is Thursday. Angelo can pick from what is left.

9:59 PM  
Blogger Maja said...


4:18 AM  
Blogger Joe Tornatore said...

seats, I mean, suits me fine.

10:52 AM  

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