This is the story of enterprise in hard times. It is the story of a teen who dedicated himself to improving his lot. It is the story of how one young man turned an old cell phone into a Porsche. Without any money changing hands.
Steven Ortiz is a man who understands what it is to be committed. So, according to the San Gabriel Valley Tribune, he spent around six hours a day on his iPhone, trawling Craigslist's barter section, seeking deals that would somehow make his asset base seem more impressive.
While his enterprise hasn't quite reached the scale of the man who traded one red paperclip and ultimately ended up with a house, it is still quite something for a 15 year old to enjoy this level of both smarts and dedication.
Ortiz began, around two years ago, with an old cell phone he had been given by a friend. He traded it for a better cell phone. Which he subsequently traded for an iPod Touch. Some people would be happy to have traded an old cell phone for an iPod Touch. But not Ortiz. He told the Tribune that he managed to barter the iPod Touch up to a dirt bike, then another.
A MacBook Pro came into his possession, before he somehow managed to obtain a Toyota 4Runner.
The 4Runner was less useful to him than it might have been to some, as he was only 15 at the time. So he bartered that for a golf cart that had been somehow sportified. This got traded for another dirt bike. Then came a street bike and a series of cars.
One of these was a 1975 Ford Bronco, which is revered, at least in some quarters, as a collector's item. And that's how he got his 2000 Porsche Boxster S convertible.
This, remarkably, was a bad deal. For the Porsche is only worth around $9,000. But just imagine the looks he now gets at Charter Oak High School.
Steven's father, Esteban, explained the principle to the Tribune: "A lot of people don't have money right now, in this economy. So they think, 'I really need a new phone, but I don't have the money. Here I have this CD player lying around that I don't use anymore, maybe I can trade.'"
Naturally, there are some who question whether he is merely a growing con man. But he insists that people have certain needs and are prepared to trade away other, perhaps more valuable, things for those needs to be met.
By the way, should you be in need of a 2000 Porsche Boxster S convertible, I have a feeling there may be one going soon. Steven is finding it difficult, having lost his job in a sushi restaurant, to meet the running costs on this fine car. So what are you going to offer him? A Lexus? A house? Or perhaps an internship with Warren Buffett?