Saturday, August 20, 2005

One (w0)man's trash...

At seven a.m., this cold and misty morning, not at all like the bright, blue-sky summer morning I had expected, shivering in hat, sweatshirt and even gloves, I began to arrange the boxes atop the table in my carport. I had spent the previous day organizing, tagging, sorting and preparing these items that I had made peace to part with.

I had placed a civilized ad in the local newspaper announcing that the sale began at eight a.m., a reasonably early hour for a Saturday. We went out with friends last night and I barely got four hours sleep, so I was not my usual morning self full of cheer.

I lugged out my last satchel of goods--a heavy plastic bag of clothes--and then ran back into the house to make the signs to put up on the end of the street where traffic went by. Five minutes later I returned.

They had descended.

In a strange cluster like something ominous out of a good macabre horror movie (the kind with no blood or screaming teenagers), they hovered around my table with weighted blank expressions. The kind of face on someone who is going to scream or hyperventilate in just a few more moments.

In the FIVE minutes it took me to make signs, like naughty toddlers they had pulled things from bags, disorganized things I lovingly tucked into price-specific compartments, scattered pairs far across the table from one another, and overturned easily-breakable items.

"I'm not open yet!" I said with a hint of hysteria in my voice. A smidge of violation.

"We know!" said one, a lady with a head of wild curls that bounced with her unhinged anticipation.

I didn't stop to ask, "if you KNOW, then why are you still pawing through my boxes?" I had this urge to slap their hands away from my stuff.

"I'll be RIGHT back, don't touch anything," I said, and then bolted for the end of the street with my signs flapping in the misty wind.

Of course they touched. One lady pointed a jagged fingernail at a box of beads I used in my jewelry making business. I had nicely organized these beads--semi-precious stones and beautiful crystal and glass--into bags priced at $2 each. There were at least thirty bags in there. "How much for this whole box?" she asked.

Because she was pushy, and I wasn't feeling friendly yet--having not had the allotted time to get coffee even, being that it was a whole hour before I was scheduled to open--I told her "I fully expect to sell every one of those bags. So $50." That did the trick. She shrunk away from the box glowering and began to paw through a selection of earrings that another vulture had scattered.

"There's no pairs here!" she cried.

"Yes there are," I said. "They've been..." I paused, scowling at the bouncy-haired lady likely responsible for this..."dislodged."

Meanwhile, the cars continued to arrive, screeching up hostilely, leaving their cars running, sending the neighborhood cats who had come to sniff my belongings fleeing. 'Don't you people know how to tell time?' I wanted to yell. 'Would you have banged down my door had I not yet been out here?' I tried to lay out books in rows as they shoved past me to get closer to items they clearly HAD to have, or so said their primitive, animal brains.

By eight o'clock, when I would have opened, I'd made $100 on odds and ends. Men came seeking military paraphernalia, which I did not have, only to leave with broaches made out of belt buckles and other things I couldn't imagine what they wanted them for. I sold Israel glass baubles to a man who thought they were Mexican glass (he would not be disabuse), and who told me I look like Julia Roberts (no, it didn't earn him a discount)

In the later hours of the day the civilized folks came, offering reasonable prices and calmly weighing their decisions. They made actual conversation, asked if they could hold/touch certain objects.

I learned a lot today about the value of items, the high of the hunt, that moment when, rummaging through someone else's personal pieces of history and habitation, you stumble across something you do not know why you need it: a little plastic toy kaleidescope, or a glittery silk bag that holds barely more than a lipstick, a box containing a few tiny, cracked crystal spears and a mysterious polished stone of tiger's eye...they come, they tear apart, they try to beat out the person next to them for the deal, and reluctantly buy all that five dollars will allot, and then they creep back to their cars, peel out and go on.

I imagine that these people's homes are full of tchotchkes gathering dust, shelves littered with ceramic elves and matryoshka dolls, plastic pigs and little pin cushions without pins. I imagine that their garages and cars, their desks at work and their bedsides tables are also strewn with these cheaply-bought objects, and I wonder, do they really love them, need them, notice them, or is it just to fill up the empty spaces that would be there otherwise?


At 4:51 AM, Blogger Myfanwy Collins said...

oooh, ho, ho, ho! This is very, very funny, J! Sounds like you a made a killing, though.

At 9:54 AM, Blogger Katie said...

I'm terrified of early bird garage salers. They are a different breed altogether.

At 9:12 PM, Blogger Jordan E. Rosenfeld said...

"breed" is a good word, Katie.


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