The Tale of The $30 Ping Pong Table

The year was 1999 and I worked as a low-level employee at the local K-Mart. I was a general handyman, doing everything from receiving to cart retrieval. It was a great job for a 16-year-old boy and it presented at least one very important opportunity.

There was a floor display ping pong table in sporting goods which had seen better days. Management decided it was time to go and marked it down to some very low sale amount.

Lucky for me I got wind of what was happening and before the clearance tag could be added I was asking my manager what the lowest price was that I could buy it. The answer? $30.

I didn't hesitate. The $30 was paid and I started making phone calls because a few things were certain.

First, I had no way to transport a ping pong table. It would not fit in my 2-door Nissan Sentra. Second, there was no point in even asking my parents if it could come to my house. There was no space and it wasn't going to happen.

Ultimately, the ping pong table was transported to the seminary building less than a block from my high school.

Seminary, for members of my faith, is a program for high school-age kids that offers a daily scripture-based class. In many parts of the country, it is offered early in the morning before school starts but I grew up in a place where I felt lucky to be able to take seminary as a class during the middle of my day during high school.

So the building was a go to hang out center for high school age kids, especially of my faith. When a class wasn't being conducted the ping pong table often came out and countless hours were spent in innocent diversion.

After 2 years of abuse from high schoolers I graduated and moved to Utah into an unfinished basement and the ping pong table came with me. In its new home ping pong became a go-to entertainment option for my coworkers, friends, and my brother who lived above me in the finished portion of the home.

It was there that this picture was captured which is the only picture of the ping pong table I could find and the table is only visible in a small corner of the picture…

My friend Kirt feeling quite confident about his Ping Pong skills


I wish I could tell you how many games were played on the $30 table. I'm sure it was thousands. I'm sure that ultimately more than $30 was spent over time on the ping pong balls though if we had to purchase new paddles I don't have any memory of it.

In January 2003 I moved out of that home for a 2 year missionary experience in Brazil. Needless to say, I didn't take the ping pong table with me.

This began the saddest time of the table's life. While I was in Brazil my parents moved into the Utah home and decided to finish the basement. The ping pong table didn't play a part of their overall design for the space. So my Dad folded up the table and stuffed it into the furnace room. Frankly, it was more like a furnace closet.

My Dad was giving me the benefit of the doubt. Instead of throwing it out he figured when I came home I may take it with me on my next adventure. When I did return home I fairly quickly took a job in summer sales which took me away from home for a summer and that fall I was married.

There was no room for the ping pong table in our apartments, or eventually in our home. Perhaps there was theoretical space but not a dedicated space where I could justify it with my young family. My Dad continued to be patient though comments were made on occasion.

In 2011 I moved to Colorado and my Dad's hope that I might one day come for my ping pong table was extinguished. With the help of a neighbor and a truck, the table was dismantled, and hauled up the stairs and to the dump.

It was a good table that provided joy to hundreds. It will forever be missed.

P.S. If you ever find a ping pong table in good working condition for $30 or less please let me know.

Leave a Comment