Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The 'Vulture Swoop' Violation

I have a problem. It’s not a new problem, and perhaps it’s not even really a problem. More of a behavior, really. My wife would most certainly call it a problem, though, rolling her eyes and shaking her head with disdain. I am the poster child for OCD, or Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. I’ve never been diagnosed, but who needs diagnosing? When I want something, it consumes my every waking thought, and I cannot rest until I have it. I visualize it as a little monkey, living inside my head. The OCD monkey strikes suddenly and without warning and, when it does, all my focus and energies converge on a singular object or goal. My current goal, as outlined previously, is to re-acquire my long-lost Twilight Zone Magazine collection, all 60 issues.

On that note… the hunt continues! After scoring 13 issues on Sunday, I ordered 8 more issues from Mile High Comics yesterday. 21 down, 39 to go.

The holy grail of this endeavor (in my opinion) is the first year of the magazine’s run, 1981. Nine issues, April through December. And as it happens, I’m currently the high bidder in an eBay auction offering these exact nine issues. I’m stuck at work, so I’m monitoring the auction on my Blackberry.

8:25 a.m.

Here's the picture from the auction.What a thing of beauty....

1 hour, 5 minutes left.

9:31 a.m.

56 minutes to go. I’m still the high bidder. In fact, I’m the only bidder. The current bid is $4.99, which is impossibly low. I’m sure somebody somewhere is watching the auction like a predatory hawk, ready to outbid me the last minute (anyone who’s done much eBaying has likely fallen victim to the Vulture Swoop at one time or another). I just raised my maximum bid to $33.01, just in case. If it goes higher than that… well, I dunno. That’s a lot of money for 9 issues. But they are the coveted first 9…

The tension is almost palpable.

9:59 a.m.

27 minutes left. The high bid (mine) stands at $4.99. If I win this auction, I’ll have amassed 30 issues… exactly half of the total collection. Dare I get my hopes up?

My heart is pounding. My head is starting to hurt.

10:10 a.m.

17 minutes left. Still $4.99. I can see the throbbing of my jugular, reflected in the stainless steel of the backside of my iPod. My blood pressure must be through the roof right now. I remember years ago, probably around 1993 or so, being down on my luck and trying to donate plasma for cash, and being told that my blood pressure was obscenely high, that I was literally a “walking time bomb.” My blood pressure is more or less managed these days with medication, but I wonder if I be should avoiding eBay. If I’m going to die of a massive stroke, I’d prefer it to be over something a little more important than a stack of magazines.

10:23 a.m.

4 minutes left. Some nameless vulture swooped in, predictably enough, and outbid me. Caught up in the feverish whirlwind of the auction, I raised my bid to $41.59. I’m the high bidder again… but for how long?

10:26 a.m.

1 minute left. Outbid again. Raising my bid to $42.99. I can’t breathe.

10:27 a.m.

The auction ended with a winning bid of $43.99. I didn’t win. The holy grail, glittering in my grasp, has slipped through my fingers.

I’m literally shaking as I type these words, trembling in the aftermath of the adrenalin rush, engulfed in a heady mix of anger and loss. I need a drink. I don’t smoke, but I need a cigarette. I need to lie down. I’d go home, but I don’t have any vacation or sick time saved up.

This is the nature of the hunt, I suppose. Sometimes the hunter comes up empty. Sometimes the prey is there in plain sight, lined up perfectly in the cross-hairs, and someone else’s bullet whizzes by at the last possible second and steals the kill. I’ve been buying and selling on eBay long enough to know this. With over 400 auctions under my belt, I shouldn’t be affected by this defeat. I should simply shrug my shoulders and move on to the next opportunity.

All 60 issues will be mine eventually. I don’t doubt this. I just hate waiting. It’s not in my nature to wait. My OCD monkey is raging inside my head like a caged tiger, flinging itself against the walls of my skull, demanding satisfaction, howling furiously at being denied this latest prize.

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