In a financial environment where stock prices have fallen, gold is controversial and real estate is "iffy," newsprint is not to be overlooked. Motivated by panic or sheer whimsy, some people are revealing in the classifieds the effect "Black Monday" has on their lives.
Ron Rose, a computer consultant in his mid-thirties, experienced both a surplus and deficit of sorts. After years of cajoling, the Atlanta bachelor finally persuaded his mother to part with some family antiques -- 17 chairs, two beds and a dining room full of furniture. When the value of his Blue Chips took a plunge, however, this ad ran in The Atlanta Journal: CAN'T SIT ON MY ASSETS ANY LONGER -- Valuable Mahogany Chairs and Misc. for sale.
Only, don't tell his mother.
Dr. Bernard Vittone, Director of the National Center Dr. Bernard Vittone, director of the National Center for the Treatment of Anxiety, Depression and Phobias, characterizes people who take immediate action after any type of a shock, unique. "Most people embrace more of a 'wait-and-see' attitude in situations like this when they feel powerless, or they apply an 'ostrich' approach to dealing with their stress and pretend the painful experience isn't happening," he says.
Also, he contends, those people who lived through the crash of 1929 have either learned the value of a nest egg and are more prepared for a financial crisis or will simply opt to let the cyclical nature of the stock market even the score. Vittone suggests that young professionals are more likely to be running these type of ads in the classifieds.
If that description holds true, Bob Taylor, a San Diego stockbroker, fits the copy. At 26, like many other professionals his age, he has seen the "bear" bite the "bull" for the first time in his short career. After a few weeks in the hot seat, soothing and advising worried clients, Taylor's own ticket came due. When he couldn't meet a margin call on his own investments, the following was prepared for The San Diego Union Tribune: BROKER MAKES BOO BOO -- Must recoupe. 1985 Corvette for sale. Dow-Jones red. Bruise me at $14,900.
The auto section seems ripe for philosophy. One poor chap in The Philadelphia Inquirer lovingly and methodically listed all the attributes of his two late-model BMWs for sale and in the final sentence blatantly blamed the stock market for his predicament.
In a 9-by-5 ad in The Miami Herald, replete with Spanish subtitles, a Honda dealer proclaims in a banner headline, "END OF THE WORLD SALE."
Read between the lines and the back pages reveal some success stories. One person's catastrophe represents another's windfall. Such is the case for Israel Daigle, a seasoned plane broker in Los Angeles. The commodities he deals in are executive planes such as the Citation, King Air and Lear Jets.
Daigle had the marketing savvy, soon after the market plunge, to run a "Cash for Your Plane" ad in major newspapers around the country. In a soft Louisiana accent, Daigle confesses that between the oil crash in the West and the drop on Wall Street his profit margin is a bit "sweeter" these days. Sometimes, he says, he is able to purchase 20 percent below wholesale value. Considering retail prices of his high-tone lines can range from $250,000 to $20 million, it's a bull market for Daigle.
Also trying to capitalize on people's financial jitters is "Phil," a private art collector in Massachusetts. His prescription for stock market nerves -- invest in one of his Erte' graphics, bronzes or one of his original watercolors. The price tag for this cure, however, ranges from $4,000 to $25,000.
Finally, there are those who found some humor in the current financial and political climate. Connie and Serf Guerra, a retired couple from Rockville now raising horses in Midlands, Va., decided against any drastic changes in their stock holdings, opting for the "wait-and-see" attitude. This didn't stop them from taking advantage of the situation to market some of their live stock. They had great success selling their Tennessee Walker, Senator, named by his previous owner, Sen. Lloyd Bentsen (D-Tex.), with this ad: SENATOR -- More fun to ride than Congress, spirited, 6-year-old gelding, 16 hands, make me an offer I can't veto.
Nancy Gazze is a Washington-area free-lance writer.