The Jew addicted to gold

Gold RingI was briefly active in one of the Web 2.0 webcam community sites, Stickam (though I didn’t use the user name Cyde Weys, so good luck finding my profile). I didn’t much like their interface, which didn’t allow sorting of live feeds by number of viewers, so I write my own script that scraped all of the live cam pages, tabulated the viewership numbers, and ranked the feeds in order. That way I could always have the most interesting feeds at my fingertips. But they modified the interface and removed the live feed viewer numbers from the listings pages, thus removing the data my script needed to function. I found myself unable to find good feeds easily and stopped using the site.

But alas, this sad tale is not about the broken Stickam interface. It’s about a Stickam user I met and talked with many times over the course of a few weeks. He was a teenager from the Midwest. He was a Jew; I know so because his user name said as much. And as much as I hate to give evidence in favor of a stereotype about my people, it must be said, he was hugely into gold. He was telling me all of these elaborate stories about trading gold jewelry and how much money he had made. I didn’t believe him at first.

But since Stickam is a webcam site, he was able to show me everything. He showed me an entire drawer full of gold jewelry he had in inventory and hadn’t gotten around to selling yet. He showed me the torch he uses to melt down the gold he sells in bulk to his wholesaler at commodity prices. He showed me plastic bags full of solidified molten gold. He even showed me a testing kit he has that can determine how many karats an unknown sample of gold is, or if it isn’t even real gold, the kit will reveal that too.

He was something else. He easily had over $100,000 worth of gold jewelry just in his room, and he was younger than me. He told me some tricks of the trade, like what certain numbers engraved on the inside of gold jewelry reveal about the gold content of the jewelry. He said he got most of his gold either from yard sales or eBay. He would spend hundreds of dollars at a time on jewelry, with the seller thinking they’re getting a good deal, but in reality, they’re selling gold at far below the commodity value (which is over $750 per ounce as I write this). He recounted his favorite find: a gold ring he bought at a yard sale for a few dollars that turned out to be made by a famous silversmith who rarely worked in gold; it was worth many thousands of dollars.

Amidst all of this wealth and smart dealing on gold, you must think I would be envious. But I’m not. One night on the webcam I noticed him acting erratically: shaking around, making funny faces, unable to stay still. I asked him what was going on, as it looked like he was on drugs. His candid answer took me aback: he gets high off of gold. Literally. One day while melting down gold to sell to his wholesaler, he inhaled some of the fumes and discovered it gave him a pleasant high. So he started doing it on purpose. He said the high sometimes lasted for more than a day at a time. He had literally become addicted to gold.

I can’t imagine what the physiological effects of inhaling gold fumes are. He didn’t know and didn’t seem to care. I imagine the risks are somewhat similar to huffing spray paint. I stopped talking to him soon after that. The whole thing was simply too weird for me. Here he was, a teenager making an absolute killing on arbitraging gold, but he was throwing his life away by getting high off his product. And I didn’t even know that was possible. I’ve heard of all sorts of substance abuses, but who has ever heard of huffing gold?

So that’s my story of the Jew addicted to gold. I know some people will be tempted to use this tale as reinforcement of a silly stereotype, but realize this: my tale makes an utter mockery of that stereotype, pushing it onwards to absurd levels that are scarcely believable had I not seen them with my own eyes.

One Response to “The Jew addicted to gold”

  1. Will (green) Says:

    That’s… messed up. What sorts of fumes would gold even have? I mean, it seems like it would just give off a little bit of CO2, maybe a little bit of vaporized oxides, you know?
    Didn’t one of your buddies double-major chemistry?