The day before yesterday, an area university trying to reconvert one of its garage bays into usable space tried to get someone to take about 6,000 used pavers out of it by giving them away free. I needed some repurposed clay bricks (the kind they made houses here from a century ago) to finish a patio project I started some time back. So I showed up with my minivan, and a conscious knowledge that if I tried to take more than say, 120 in one load, I ran the risk of blowing the shocks. (Don't ask me how I know that.)
A fellow with a midsize SUV was there before me, blocking the driveway so no one else could get through. He said, "I was here first, so I get them all." I said, "Well, let me take a look around."
He said, "I have a flatbed on the way and he can take them all." We talked for a bit, which was hard, because he kept calling his flatbed guy and asking him questions. So it took about forty minutes to have a 10-minute conversation. As it turned out, he needed blocks for a really big driveway, to go to a really big new barn he was putting up, so the repurposed clay bricks I wanted wouldn't do him any good anyway. Almost all of the blocks were actually locked inside the building, and there was no one there. so the whole discussion was academic. I waited until he got frustrated and drove away, then loaded up the usable repurposed clay bricks that were piled up outside. I needed about 300, and there were only 88 useful ones, but I wasn't going to waste a trip.
That night I e-mailed the guy who posted the original listing and it turned out it was posted early - the rest of the blocks and bricks would be available in the morning. So I went over about 7:30 on New Years' Eve. The guy with the SUV was blocking the driveway again so no one else could get through. When I got out of my car, he reminded me that he was there first so he "owned" all the blocks and bricks in the building.
At that time there were two guys (from the university's groundskeeping department?) inside the building, waiting until 8:00. I could see one pallet of mostly repurposed clay bricks, so I stuck around, even though the guy kept telling me he was here first, so he got them all.
Eventually the groundskeeping guys opened the door, and the guy with the SUV told them that since he was here first, he "owned" all the blocks and bricks they had to give away. I explained that he wanted the concrete brick-like pavers that he could actually drive on for his driveway, so me taking a few more of the clay bricks wasn't going to cause him any problems. There were about 8,000 of the concrete pavers, more pallets than the flatbed he was trying to get there would hold. So I loaded up 112 of the repurposed clay bricks (to make it an even 200) and asked if they would be there for another hour so I could make one more trip.
In the meantime the guy with the SUV kept getting on the phone and arguing with the flatbed driver, then going in and arguing with the landscaping guys. By all rights, I shouldn't even be taking bricks to my van, because they all "belonged" to the guy in the SUV. Oh, and by the way, he wasn't going to be able to get the flatbed there until Monday at least (5 full days away). So could they hold them for him? Oh, and by the way, the guy with the flatbed didn't have a loader, so did they have a forklift he could borrow? The grounds guys were trying very hard to be fair, but the fellow's demands just kept getting more extreme. Finally when they tried to refuse one of his demands, he said, "I'm sorry, you have no idea what kind of financial pressure I'm under." I said, "Aren't we all?" I'm not really, but I had a feeling that the groundskeepers were far worse off in general than the SUV driver. He said, "You have no idea." I didn't say, "Then why were you bragging yesterday about the big new barn you just built?" I DID say, "So you're saying, it's going to cost you more money than it should to get $6000 worth of paving blocks for free?"
He also kept saying, "I thought this was supposed to be 'first come first serve.'" I almost said, "So put as many of those things in your SUV as you can and go away." But I didn't. It's not my job to knock sense into idiots.
He finally got the groundskeepers to promise not to give any of the concrete pavers away until they heard back from him - a promise I would not have made unless he had a gun, and then I would have called the police as soon as he left. Then he drove away. The groundskeepers helped me move another 100 bricks where I could pick them up later. As I was getting ready to drive away, two bearded young men in a decent, but not new pickup truck drove up and asked if they were in the right place. They were polite and glad to find some bricks left they could use.
I got home, quickly unloaded my second load of bricks, and drove back in a hurry. Since no one else had come, the groundskeepers had locked up and left. I looked in the window at the pallet with the repurposed clay bricks and figured that the young men in the truck had taken about 300. (Not as much as you'd think - that's only about 67 square feet). I got my last load and came home, still wondering if the fellow with the SUV made these kinds of demands on everyone he came into contact with.