Cleaning out an apartment, getting rid of all your world possessions gets down to lots of strange things you may have carried around for far too long.
In my case, it was a tooth.
To be specific, it was a tooth with a gold grown. My wisdom tooth. Extracted from my head forcibly in 2002 I think. It lived in a little manila packet in my closet for years as I intended to go sell the gold and recoup some amount of whatever exorbitant expenses I originally paid to have it installed. The rigors of every day life always put it 42nd on the list though, so in the closet it stayed. It moved with me, and as gold prices skyrocketed over the last couple years it would murmur at me from behind closed doors: “probably oughta sell me soon. Prices are bound to crash again.” Silly teeth, they are terrible market predictors.
Now, however, I was getting rid of everything. The tooth had to go. In the mad rush to get everything out of my apartment, it eventually moved from closet, to counter, and then finally on the last day as I was cleaning my apartment, into my coat pocket. It stayed there as I took my trip down to Oregon.
Now southern Oregon, as it turns out, seems to be at least half supported by the purchasing of gold. Everywhere I drove in Medford, you couldn’t swing a dead tooth without hitting a sign saying “WE BUY GOLD! TOP DOLLAR!! WE PAY MORE!” So, finally I was cornered: I had time, I had places to choose from and I had the tooth.
I decided to choose the most reputable-seeming shop: the coin merchant in the mall. The rest of the pawn shops and strangely newly-appropriated buildings with banner signs that sagged seemed like they might be shady, and I didn’t trust my precious tooth to them.
So it was, that I found myself attempting to sell gold, feeling a little shady myself.
Me: “so, I have a tooth with gold in it”
White-haired man: “filling or crown?”
Me: “er, crown. I think.”
whm: “not a problem, grip the tooth with a pliers, then take a hammer and it’ll come right off.”
me: “and you guys buy the gold? How does that work?”
whm: “we weigh it and give you spot price for it.”
me: “seems pretty straight forward. I’ll be back”.
The following day I asked my father for a hammer and pliers. I expected him to ask what for, but he just hauled out a number of instruments and presented them to me. On seeing what I was attempting to perform, he suggested, in a manner that suggested this was commonplace, that two pliers might be a better solution.
Note to those who may attempt this sometime in their lives: a tooth that has been sitting around without a head to nourish it, dies. Becomes a bit brittle. Also: gold is slipperier than expected when attempting to grip with a large-toothed set of pliers. Net result: the tooth basically disintegrated into bone powder, the adhesive that held the whole mess together remained a gooey blob like gum on the sidewalk, and in the end I walked away with $38.12.
Tacos are on me. Kids: remember to floss.