I was helping a friend move some furniture one afternoon. I was sitting in his van on 23rd Street, out in front of the Chelsea Hotel. A black guy came down the middle of the street. He was hopping around with a jerky sort of walk, gesturing with his arms at the cars that streamed by him. As he got closer he spotted me. He stuck his head in the driver’s window of the van. “Hey man, you need a watch?”
He thrust an open case through the window and into my lap. Then he hopped around to my side of the van, the passenger’s side.
“Take a look at it man. Movado.”
I had no idea what Movado was. I didn’t care, and didn’t want to encourage the man by asking. I was tired from moving furniture, and not in the mood for shopping. But with the case in my lap I looked at the watch. It looked pretty good, I must admit. A silver metal band, with a black face, and one single diamond-like jewel marking the twelve o’clock spot. Still, I didn’t want it. I tried to hand it back.
“Sorry man, I can’t use it.”
“It’s the real thing. Genuine Movado. Not like one of those fake ones you get around the corner.”
“Oh, I’m sure it’s real,” I said. “I just don’t want it.” Actually, I was not at all sure. What did I know about watches? But again, I didn’t care. I just wanted to get rid of the guy. I snapped the case shut and tried to hand it back.
He hopped back around to the driver’s side. “It’s Movado. Look on the back of it.”
I was hesitant to tell the guy to get lost. He was just trying to make a buck. Since I couldn’t walk away myself, I was forced to open the case back up. Sure enough, there on the back of the watch was etched the magic word Movado. There were a bunch of other words etched there too, but I didn’t bother to read them. I closed the case and tried to hand it back, again. He still wouldn’t take it.
“You see? You see? Movado,” the watchman said.
I didn’t see how that proved anything. People who have the technology to make fake watches probably also have the technology to put fake engravings on the back of them.
“That watch is worth a lot of money.” He was back on the passenger’s side now. I wished he would quit jumping back and forth like that. He was starting to make me nervous.
“Oh yeah, I can tell,” I said. “It’s a very nice watch. You should have no problem selling it.” I had the case closed and was holding it out the window.
“Look at the price tag.”
I drew the case in again and opened it back up. He reached in the window and flipped the price tag out from behind the watch. “See that? $450.”
Yep, that’s what it said. Once again, I didn’t see how that proved anything.
The watchman was on the driver’s side now, looking around nervously. I sensed he was getting a little bit impatient. “It’s not stolen, man,” he said. “My wife bought it on a bad credit card.” I guess that made it less stolen.
I didn’t care if it was stolen or not. I just didn’t need a watch. But I felt a twinge of sympathy. After all that trouble scamming the credit card people, his wife would be mighty disappointed if he came home without the groceries. She was probably going to be needing bail money sooner or later as well.
“Listen, I’m gonna do you a favor. Only 80 bucks. Movado.” I didn’t even have eighty bucks on me, only about seventeen. And I needed to buy lunch. If the matter wasn’t settled before, it was settled now.
“Where else are you gonna get a Movado for only eighty bucks?”
“Damn straight,” the watchman said.
I told him, “Listen man, I don’t have anywhere near 80 bucks. I can’t help you.”
“Well, what’ll you give me for it?”
“I don’t want it for any price.”
“Make me an offer.” I guess he thought I was one tough customer, really haggling. He said, “I might be able to go sixty.”
“Just make me an offer.”
“I don’t want it.”
“Come on man, make me an offer. Come on.”
I finally gave in. “Alright, ten bucks.”
He snatched the watch back and stalked off, back down the middle of the street. “Fuck you man,” he grumbled. “It’s a Movado.”