Tom's Secret

What is it with Lionel??? I've been a value added dealer and service station for over a decade. I've been a staunch supporter of Lionel even when they got into the war with MTH. (But please don't think I take sides. I respect MTH's products very much as well.) I have been a big Lionel fan since I was a kid, even though we couldn't afford Lionel at that time.

So after all that, you would think maybe I would get a little consideration when I ask Lionel to do some little thing for me!

You may or may not know that I have just picked up a very nice mainly Post War collection which I purchased in Montreal, Canada. This is the third collection that I have purchased in Canada, and if you have ever tried to import something into the USA from Canada especially if it is commercial, you have to be organized for customs. I'll tell you, I have maybe a couple of hours worth of conversations, faxes, and other paper work in trying to have everything ready so that things go smoothly when I cross the border back into the good old USA.

One of the things that I needed to help speed this process was a form called ‘Affidavit of Manufacture'. This is a form for any officer of a manufacturer to sign and fax back simply to certify that the trains that Lionel made in the post war era for instance were made in the USA. And of course we all know that, but it is very doubtful that customs would.

So I called Lionel and talked to Cindy in sales who told me she would get back to me by the next day. Well, the next day came and went, so on Monday morning I called Cindy again and asked her if she needed more info or whatever. She gave me some story that her boss wasn't in, and she'll talk to him about it and get back to me. So to be thorough I faxed her the form and a polite letter explaining that this would assist me greatly in importing the trains back into the USA.

I didn't hear from her by the next day which was getting close to my deadline date, so I called her one last time, and I could tell by the tone of her voice, that there was a problem. But even so, she didn't indicate that in any way and assured me that she would get back to me.

Do you think that I ever heard anything more from Cindy or anyone at Lionel? Of course not!! And that confirms my suspicions that Lionel is actually an alien company that manufactures little green things that crawl around. Either that or they have way to many customers and could care less about them. Really a shame. I'm open to apologies Lionel, But I'm not going to wait by the phone. Boy am I ever glad that I deal mainly in the secondary Lionel market and not very much from distributors in new Lionel! I wonder if they would get back to me if I decided to start selling huge amounts of new Lionel! Truthfully, probably not!

And despite Lionel's arrogance and/or disorganization, I did manage to sneak this collection past the custom's guys when they weren't looking, and you'll love this one if you like high grade and hard to find mainly Post War items. Why there may even be a Hell Gate Bridge in this one somewhere even though that is pre-war, so please check the new stuff and choochooauctions.com for the next couple of weeks, as I know you guys are going to find some really nice things.

This was not only a nice collection, but The gentleman and his wife were so nice. If every person I deal with could be that nice, it would be so wonderful!!

And speaking of wonderful, that reminds me of Christmas season. And the day before Christmas Eve in 1999 was a busy day for sure in our store. I remember that Thursday very well.

For some reason I had been working alone at least the last couple of hours in the store. We close at 8PM in December before Christmas, and I was getting pretty tired by the time 7:30 came around. All I wanted to do was go home have a martini, pizza, my beany baby, and my coloring book. (OK, just fooling, but I had to wake you up somehow!)

It had been sort of dead since 7PM, so I thought maybe I would close 10 minutes early, get the books done and get out of there. So I did. I carefully turned off the computers, turned off the lights, locked that back door, and went to my office to do the paper work that is required at the end of the day before a responsible business person can leave.

And I was sitting there hardly working when I heard the chime that sounds when the front door of the store is opened.

No, I had turned off the lights, but either I had forgotten to lock the front door, or someone was breaking in.

As I started walking to open up the store I had two things on my mind. 1) Should I take my gun? 2) What to tell the guy who was waiting out there in the dark store my reason for closing early. It was now 5 minutes to 8 and I was hoping I could just convince whoever it was to come back tomorrow, or run like heck back into the office to call the police.

But when I opened the door, I found a big surprise in that it was the Governor of the state of Pennsylvania standing there looking at me as if to wonder, what kind of a business is this anyway?

I drew a sigh of relief as I had opted not to bring my gun. And then I thought what would have happened had I set the alarm??? I could just see it, Governor Ridge busted for breaking into Train City. That would have been interesting.

But that wasn't the case of course as Governor Ridge has been a customer of mine off and on now for many years around Christmas time. He tells me that he buys the trains for his Son, which is a wonderful thing to do.

So Tom Ridge's secret is out. He likes trains, because if your kid likes trains, you like trains also. No way out of that one Governor.

Ironically this week, if you watch much of the Republican convention, you will see a lot of Tom Ridge, who drew serious consideration as Vice President from George Bush.

I'm not a real political type guy. As a matter of fact I more or less hate politics. But Tom Ridge is one guy who is not only very straight forward, but honest. And that is a very unusual and respectful characteristic for a politician these days.

Now I have had one other encounter in the politics game. Have you read The White House Collection?


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Revised 7/30/00
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