So, I bought some neodymium magnets in senior year of college. I had brought a jacket from home with a security tag the store missed, and it turns out a strong magnet is the trick to getting them off.
After making it possible to wear my jacket without setting off alarms in stores, I didn’t have much use for these super strong little magnets, and they sat in my pencil jar.
I more or less forgot about them until a freshman on a For Sale Facebook group at the school asked if anybody would sell him a magnet.
Not that weird, in and of itself, but I asked the kid what he wanted it for and at first he said he had a hard drive to wipe. He recanted and said that was a joke when I offered to just lend it to him for free in that case. What he actually needed it for was to test the purity of some silver he bought. That sounded like a joke to me too but he insisted it was real. For that, he had to keep it.
I offered like, five bucks for it, but he said that was too high. He knew the price of a 10 pack of the magnets, and said that I was charging an exorbitant markup although it was about fair with the list price on Amazon without a Prime membership.
He counter offered with an absurdly low amount. Like, less than a quarter.
I was vaguely insulted and said I’d trade him for an Iced Coffee from Dunkin. He responded that not only was $2.75 still a ridiculous markup, he didn’t know where there was a Dunkin Donuts near campus. That struck me as bizarre since there’s one a few blocks from school on the major thoroughfare that marks one side of campus. The Chipotle was down that street so pretty much every student had at least met somebody down that way and passed by the Dunkin.
Annoyed, I asked him why he didn’t just buy the magnets online if he was so married to the prices there. He said he didn’t have that kind of cashflow at the moment, and counter offered with $0.47.
I told him that even as a college student I wouldn’t get out of bed for less than a dollar, and settled on the grand total of $1 because at this point I needed to see the kid in the flesh.
I rushed back to my housing from the spot I was studying on campus just as we got one of those uniquely Pittsburgh rainfalls that seem to belong in a jungle. I offered to give it to him the next morning since it was a shitty night and I doubted he’d want to come out in the middle of a downpour. He insisted that he had to have the magnet tonight.
I got to my room, dug out the magnets, and went to meet the kid in the building lobby.
He came to the door, soaking wet, in a polo and basketball shorts. He handed me a dollar bill and I let him choose a magnet from the package. They were all stuck together pretty well and in the process of prying one off he dropped it and narrowly missed attaching itself to a radiator.
I offered him tea or coffee, on account of the miserable weather even though at that point I’d be losing money on this encounter but he declined. Told me not to worry, he was Samoan, the rain didn’t bother him.
He than whipped out a huge silver coin and held the magnet to it. Sure enough it stuck (or didn’t stick, I can’t recall, but it proved the purity). I had really thought he’d been bluffing about the silver, but nope, he told me that after the coin he had a bunch of bullion to test back in his room.
I asked him why, for the love of god, he had bought a bunch of silver.
He smiled and said “This way inflation can’t touch me!” before bolting back out into the rain.
Later I looked him up and was unsurprised to see that he was both a Computer Science major and part of some libertarian brony group.
Every time I look back on this though, I can’t help but think about how he had cashflow problems because he bought goddamned silver. Dude, you’re a college freshman. Four years of inflation are really a bigger deal than having enough fluid funds to buy things that cost more than a dollar?