Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Garage Sale Junkies

The madness started when we discovered a flyer stuck to our mailbox, which is illegal I know but also don't care.  Neither did whoever put it on our mailbox obviously.  It was from a lady down our street wanting to put together a community yard sale. She had made some extra money last Spring and thought if we all got together and unloaded our junk on the unsuspecting we'd make some easy cash.  I'm all for trading my unwanted stuff for spendable currency so we decided to hop on board.

We took one night and went through the garage sorting stuff to sell and stuff we had to keep.  The girls were pretty selective at this point and decided that the washer and dryer would not be sold.  I tried to reason with them.  After all, Laura Ingalls had clean clothes and she didn't have a washing machine.  It was true that we didn't live near a river but we did own a pool and isn't chlorine like bleach practically?  Soak them in the pool and hang them on the fence to dry and I bet we'd make at least thirty bucks per appliance.  Still, the selfish women refused to be inconvenienced so we sold the kid's stuff instead.

The garage sale was to start at seven in the morning and I was surprised at first that seven even happened twice a day. The girls assured me it did as they set the alarm for six so we could set everything out before the community event began.  We went to sleep thinking of the easy money we were going to make.

When the alarm went off, I groaned out of bed, suddenly regretting the decision already.  It started at seven, which meant I had to be up at six. I'm not sure why this useful piece of information eluded me, but it did and I wasn't too happy about it.  Still, I woke up on time, slipped into yesterday's jeans and a fresh shirt and fumbled my way to the garage.  With a flick of the switch and a push of the button, lights were on and the garage door was creaking its way upward.  It didn't seem to like the intrusion on its slumber any better than I did.

There were men in my driveway.  Through groggy eyes not yet pried open with strong coffee, I stared at two men standing by pickup trucks ready to pounce, who looked like they knew six o'clock came twice a day and were excited about it.

"Good morning. You folks part of the big yard sale?"


"We're just going to stand here and watch.  Hope you don't mind."

I glance at my phone, which also doubles as my watch.  6:15. “Watch what?"

"Watch you fine folks set up, of course.  Hey, you selling those surfboards?  Have any musical instruments you're selling?  Tools?  Guns?"

I wasn't even aware that you could sell guns at a garage sale and right then those men were glad I wasn't selling firearms even if they didn't know it.  The questions kept getting shot at me as I tried to wrap my mind around the fact that it wasn't even daylight yet.

"I'm a collector," he said as he helped me set up a 50-gallon guinea pig cage.  "Do you have any old coins?". He helped move a dresser out.

I had to disappoint him, after he helped me move all of the heavy furniture that is.  I only collect naps and this garage sale was making me want one already and it hadn't even started yet.    Other people kept coming up before the event was underway as well and asking the same zillion questions.  One guy even came up and asked if I had any airplane parts.  Really.  I suppose pilots pick up spare parts and make a killing on the yard sale circuit.  I did ask him which airline was using used parts for future reference, however.  This is why I don't fly.

From there it was a parade of obnoxious, irritating bargain hunters with no manners.  Char was selling her Avon Christmas plates and we had them in a box under a table that held candles, wine glasses and some perfume bottles of nice design.  Some little old man with barely a gray tuft of hair on his head picked up a perfume bottle and turned it over to examine it.  The heavy end fell off and into the plates sending shards of glass and that sweet smell of jasmine through the air.  He handed me the broken bottle and simply walked off.  I just watched him waddle away, dumbfounded.

We even got ripped off by a pastor!  We were selling an ancient lawn mower for twenty dollars and had it set out by the giant glass cage, which I told one man had been used for the kids' time-out sessions.  A man tried starting it and discovered a messed up gas hose, which now I figure he messed up considering the way it all played out. He had told Teri about it and she went ahead and lowered it to ten bucks.  The man then asked about some blinds we had out and was told they were five dollars.  He didn't want them, just the mower.

Enter Robbie, ignorant of all that's preceded.

Teri asked if I would help him load it in the van and while my back said "No," my mind said, "Sure.  Let's do it."  So, I fold up the handle and helped him lift it into the back of his van.  He hands me a folded five spot and heads to the neighbor's sale.  Unfolding the bill, I'm surprised it's only a five and question Teri.

"I told him ten because he said that one tube was broken and he needed to do this or that to it."  She also told me about the blinds.

So, I see the man's wife and call him over.  At first, it's not a big deal to me.   I assume it's a simple oversight on his part and give the man the benefit of the doubt.  It wasn't an oversight.

"She told me five dollars.  I tell her this part’s broken and I'll need to fix it.  Don't you remember you said five dollars."

"The five was for the blinds.  I told you ten for the lawn mower."

"No, you didn't.  You said five.  She said five.  I didn't want the blinds.  I wanted the lawn mower."

And I was about to just shrug and let it pass when he added, "I'm a pastor."

"You're a what?"

"I'm a pastor."

I'm not sure what he was trying to say with that claim, but the man was totally ignorant of my luck with pastors.  He was also unprepared for my outburst.  "You're a pastor and your lying about five dollars?  You are stealing from us and you think telling me you're a pastor is your get out of jail free card?  You're doing a disservice to your faith and your God.  What church do you pastor?"

"I'm a Pentecostal pastor."

"Get the hell out of my yard."  I was so pissed off I forgot to get the lawn mower back.  I couldn't believe it.  Sean, the guy who takes care of my pool said I should consider it my tithe.

And there were others, characters all.  One lady had a scanner that she would use to read the barcodes on the books.  It then told her if she had any of the books we were selling or not.  It even informed her which ones were any good.  Another guy gave Sarah and I the creeps not only with his rejected biker look but also his low voice spitting out nonsense information about his life.     I kept waiting for the knife to come from his back waistband and a cackle from his lips.  There were nice people as well, like the home schooling mom with three kids that liked our books and the man that bought all of my old computer cables.  Most, however, were belligerent telling me what should be the prices or how we were doing it wrong.  There was even an old man who faked being sick so I'd lower the price for him.

"How about eight dollars because that's all I have anyway?"  After I surrendered he pulled out a ten to pay for his stuff.

I don't mind the wheeling and dealing.  That's part of the game for some.  It's the lying and deception that comes with the whole mess that I hate.  We made decent money but I told the girls never again.  Next time we think about having a yard sale, I'm just calling Goodwill.  Let them have the headache.  I prefer my odd characters to be in my books, not my driveway.

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  1. The part about the pastor was priceless - shakes heads.... I loved the way You portrayed each character that You captured... smiles!

  2. Thanks, ladies. Glad you both enjoyed it.

  3. Nice job Rob! That's why I don't do yard sales - and I'm not going to waste my weekends driving around for that one "priceless" piece that some INSIST exists at every yard sale. Your blogs are great - thanks for the enjoyable reading material.


  4. Thanks Roxanne! Glad you enjoy them.