I owned a Rolex once for a minute, or at least I thought I did. Don’t judge me; I was sixteen and naïve. I still believed that once in a blue moon, a deal too good to be true would come along that defied the odds. A deal that was the quintessential exception to the rules and was, in fact, true.
I can’t rightly say the neighborhood I grew up in was hell on earth, but it was as hell adjacent as you could get without changing zip codes. Everyone had a hustle. They needed to in order to survive. Government cheese was all well and good, but eat enough of it, and you get stopped up like the Hoover Dam, then no one can help you except for Ex-Lax, and that was some pricy chalky chocolate flavored remedy. How would I know what ex-lax tastes like? I ate a lot of hand-me-down government cheese when I first got here.
I understand that some people need visuals when talking about poverty. Just so it’s clear, when we first got to America, people on welfare looked down on us as the poor family in the apartment complex and, once in a while, brought us a brick or two of cheese.
Like with everything else, there were some, like my parents, who worked nonstop trying to get a foothold and provide for their family, then there were others who were content to show up for their food stamps and government cheese for as long as the government would have them.
My mom had two jobs, my dad had one where he put in as much overtime as he could, and my grandfather and I would walk the neighborhood collecting aluminum cans to take to the recycling center. Everyone did what they could; it’s what you do when survival is the objective.
Just so you know, you haven’t lived until you’ve dumpster-dived and landed on a homeless man who was already sleeping in the dumpster. Memories, indeed.
I got to America when I was nine. By the time I was sixteen, the hard times seemed a thing of the past. I’d worked my way to buying my first car, and as a side hustle, I was buying cars at auction, fixing them up, and selling them for a profit.
It was at one of these auctions that I got approached by a Vietnamese guy I’d seen bidding on cars a few times before, and he inquired as to whether or not I was interested in a watch. I was sixteen. That’s my only defense.
I should have known there was something off about him upon noticing that his neck had turned green from his supposed gold chain rubbing against it, but I had yet to sharpen my situational awareness skills. Those would come later and serve me well for years to come.
I asked what kind of watch, thinking he had a Timex or a Casio, maybe even a Citizen, but he smiles and says, “Rolex; only the best for you, my friend.”
I’d never seen a Rolex before and didn’t even know what they were supposed to look like, but I knew the name, and he seemed fidgety enough that I knew he was looking to make a deal, so I asked how much.
“For you, one hundred,” he said. “It’s almost like for free.”
He pulled the watch out of his pocket and presented it, laying it on his other wrist, and I must say, it looked like a watch, with ROLEX written across the face. Even then, something told me I should probably pass, but a Rolex for a hundred bucks did seem like quite the deal.
I fished through my pocket and pulled out a twenty, two fives, and a ten, then went in again to find some lint and a gum wrapper.
“I only have forty cash,” I said, blushing.
“For you, my friend, today only, forty. Give me,” he said, beckoning for the cash.
If a hundred was a good deal, forty made me kind of feel like I’d robbed the man. I gave him the money, he gave me the watch, and I happily put it on my writs.
An hour later, after I’d left some bids for a couple of cars I thought were worth picking up, I was driving home when my wrist started to itch. It was the wrist with the watch. I unclasped it and pulled it off at a stoplight, only to see that my skin had turned green and was forming a rash in some places.
I felt silly, foolish, not angry precisely, perhaps a little mad at myself, surely not at Tang, because his job was to run a con and sell me something he likely paid two bucks for at a profit. My job was to walk away, say no, or figure out what a real Rolex should look like.
A lot of fraudsters are moving a lot of product today because the people they’re offloading the product to don’t know what the real thing is supposed to look like. It’s easy to pass a fake Rolex to someone who’s never seen a real one. It’s just as easy to pass fake gifts, revelations, prophecy, or manifestations to someone who has never encountered the true power of God.
More on this tomorrow. I think it needs to be fleshed out.
With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea, Jr.