August 22, 2005

one man's trash...

... can get to be quite voluminous over 35 years in one house. We helped my father-in-law run a garage sale on Saturday, and I was astounded by what people bought. There were some useful things, and some not-so-useful things, but by the end of the day quite a few of both had sold. There was plenty left over so the people at the dump would not feel left out, however. And we hadn't even gotten to go through about 40% of the garage before the sale.

I hate garage sales. Hate them, hate them, hate them. Garage sales have only three benefits in my mind: First, they give you an excuse to sit around and not do yard work or other home projects for most of the day. Second, you generally do end up with less stuff and more cash at the end of the day. Third, the people you see come through can be strange and wonderful things.

We had two ladies hobble by (I think one was the sister of Moses), and one of them asked about a few balls of blue yarn. She makes small American flags out of yarn; apparently she has some sort of machine that helps. It was late in the day, so we just gave her the yarn for free (don't tell my father-in-law). The next day she came back and gave us one of those little flags made from that yarn.

Early on a woman stopped by and found a smallish picture frame in our 25-cent box. She had no cash, so we told her to take it anyway (don't tell my father-in-law). She came back around noon to drop off the quarter.

One guy drove up in what looked like a 30-year-old, hand-camoflaughed Suburban with a low-walled trailer bumping behind it. He had long, greasy-looking hair and a long, gaunt face that suggested the cigar sticking out of his mouth was just the latest in a very, very long line of predecessors. He quietly stalked about the tables for a while, investigating every nook until he'd found a half dozen things he wanted and had piled them in the middle of the driveway. I don't know how much he ended up paying, but this was definitely a case of one man's trash turning to another man's treasure.

A lot of the locals had opinions they felt like sharing on the real estate market, since the house had a "sold" sign in front. The concensus is that we've passed the peak and prices will continue to soften for a bit, perhaps even decline significantly. Everyone spoke about it with knitted brows and grave concern, then merrily went along and bought the $3 badminton set or a few old music boxes or a dozen shelf brackets found in a box full of random garage leftovers.


Unknown said...

Nicely written, Pete. I hope Gary is doing OK.

bluesugarpoet said...

Once I had a garage sale prior to one of my many moves, and this guy that looked very similar to the "Suburban-driving-greasy-haired-guy" (only my guy was driving an old van sans paint and back seats).

Two items I was selling in particular were a yellow GE stove going for 100$ and a fairly old dark green vinyl recliner for 10$. Mr. NoSeats really wanted the stove, but he tried to make the recliner the leverage point. "This is a good deal on this recliner. I'll give you 50$ for this and the stove," he said. I politely declined that offer. "Well if you think you're selling that piece of crap for 100$ you're crazy!" he angrily lashed out at me.

Oh yeah, that will make me relent, I thought.

"Have a nice day, and here is your recliner for 10$." I said.

Not more than 20 minutes later, two people were almost fighting over who would get to buy the stove for 100$.

Garage sales are very interesting, and I hate having them too. I would much rather stroll around Wal-Mart and chat with lonely people who seem to strike up conversations with me whenever I go there.