A nice fellow bought a Stanley Number 5 from me on eBay a couple weeks ago. Several days later I got an email from him, told me he was interested in a No 6 and asked if I hadM any available to sell. I emailed him back and told him what I had including a nice type 17 with a frog screw, a bit rough but not too bad, that would make a great user. He said he was interested and asked how much. About that moment, as I'm reading his email I got a notice from PayPal that that he’d just bought a Bailey 4 1/2 from me that I had listed on eBay, at the Buy It Now price. Well after I thanked him for that purchase I told him that the 6 would take some work but as he was a good repeat customer and not going through eBay $80 and $15 shipping. (Yea, I know. My prices are exceedingly low) So he took it but we agreed that he will pay when the project was finished and he was able to review some photos. (Now realize that this whole conversation is taking place via email so time is passing very slowly)
The japanning on this one was a bit rough, some bubbling like most neglected type 17 planes do. But once I began working on it the japanning started flaking off like crazy. In fact, when I hit it with the pressure hose, it came off like the blowing snow flying through the air in the middle of a Wyoming winter wind storm. (Been there, done that). I blew off most all of the stuff from the frog back so now it's MIA. It had clearly been exposed to moisture at some point and rust got to undermining the finish. The sad part is that from the frog forward it was undamaged and like new. At this point, after I patted away the tears I decided that the only option was to repaint the whole thing knowing full well of the extra work involved in removing all the old remaining japanning, masking, drying, repaints, etc.. If you've ever fully restored a plane, you know of which I speak. I contacted the buyer and told him there would be a delay and he graciously accepted my seemingly lame excuse.
I finished it over the course of the following week and on Sunday emailed him back with photos and a confirmation of the price and to tell him that it was going to go out on Monday if he still wanted it and if so he could now pay for it. Said he absolutely wanted it but requested that I wait to mail until next Monday as he was going to be out of town. I didn’t hear from him or PayPal so Monday I asked him if he wanted to pay when I mailed it and he said that he'd already paid. UH OH. Now I’m getting suspicious (which is my law enforcement background showing through) and a bit worried, (ditto). So I confirmed with him my email address for my PayPal account. (Again, we are doing an email conversation and this is taking hours.) Well, he did a cut/paste from the email address I'd given him, into the “pay to” spot on his payment page and it turns out that I misspelled my own name so his payment went off into the electron ozone. I can imagine his chagrin when contemplating about how this dumbass who can't even spell his name, was working with sharp objects on a plane that he had just paid good money for.. Luckily, he was able to retrieve the lost electronic money and made payment to the correct account.
A bit later I get the notification from PP that I'd received his payment but it appeared that the amount was wrong. I checked my account and turned out that he'd deposited $125 instead of $95. I wrote him back explaining the error and he said he knew how much he deposited and the extra was, get this, a tip for being an honest seller with humility and integrity. The guy tipped me $30 bucks for being an honest, hard working, independent, capitalist! I’ve never been tipped before, at least not as an adult. Now I don't know this fellow's financial status, don't care and it doesn't matter. What does matter is his kindness and generosity to more or less, a total and complete stranger. I was a bit flabbergasted and a lot humbled. I told him "thanks" and I’d “pay it forward”.
I remember the day when small business people were the heart and soul of this country and by many standards, they still are today. Small business employ more workers than any of the big companies and I think most try to pay competitively because in many cases, their employees are also their customers (or will be). Back in the day, most business owners were honest, hard working people, the vast majority with integrity, especially if they wanted to stay in business. Have we come so far as to have to tip people for being hard working and honest? We seem to reward people for just (as my father used to say) "doing the right thing because it's the right thing to do." Seems that in some cases we do just that. Certainly most folks were taught to be decent people as something of a Golden Rule of Life.
So you have read this and are asking yourself "Nice story but what's this got to do with hand planes?" Well, besides the nice pictures of the restored No 6, this experience reinforced my faith in humanity, especially those people who buy planes. Think about that the next time you eat out and have some hard working wait person lugging your scrambled eggs and toast out to you.
It was indeed a most amazingly great day to be in the plane selling business.