Who would have thought that (in addition to love, revenge, and the desire for power) three-digit registration plates arouse such strong passions in the sons of men?
My friend’s mum has an old car which she wants to dispose of. The car itself is worth..well, whatever the scrap metal is worth, roughly – but the licence plate, that’s another matter! Since the plate hails from a time long past, instead of the usual 6 digits it has three, and these three have a mystic allure because they’re related to the model number of the car, or Satan’s area code, or the numerological code for invisibility, or something,anyway.
So my friend, on behalf of his mum, puts the rego plate up for sale to the highest bidder. Pretty soon someone offers him a sum somewhere between ten and twenty thousand, and then someone else offers more, and, well, basically I bought my entire CAR (2 years old, still under new car warranty) for what these people are offering for a registratione plate! One guy, on having the bidding process explained to him, comes back with ‘I’ll tell you how it works! We arrange to meet (dark alley, half past midnight, don’t ring the police), I’ll bring the cash, you hand over the plate (and it’d better not have any fingers missing!) and I’ll give you the money (unmarked banknotes, black leather attaché, you can pretend you won it at the Casino).
When he finally sells the thing, he rings the bidders to tell them the disappointing news (disappointing to all except the winner, I guess, who probably goes out and throws a champagne luncheon on the Opera House terrace). Then the name-calling begins. ‘You rotten lousy son of a bitch, you’ll never sell another licence plate in this town, I’m telling you now!’. ‘You pathetic fuck, you’re just a lying, cheating player, aren’t you!’ (yes darling, sorry I’ll make it up to you in the morning!).
Which goes to show. Something. But what exactly???