Last weekend I rented a table space at a yard sale, in the hopes of getting rid of some of my husband’s “collection.”
My husband hoarded just about everything imaginable during his 64 years on this planet – coins, trading cards, comic books, cigarette lighters, military medals, stamps, Avon bottles, Budweiser Christmas steins, Star Wars and Star Trek toys, model trains and even dollhouse furniture. At one point, the collection took up three storage units, to the tune of nearly $400 per month. Multiply that by 25 years, and the collection ended up owing us money.
I’ve managed to sell a lot of his treasures on eBay, but the big stuff, the stuff that would cost more to mail it than its actual value, I decided to try to sell at the yard sale. This, of course, meant I had to lug everything out to the car and then somehow squish all of it into it.
After carrying the first of the model-train sets out to the garage, I learned that my back isn’t as flexible as it used to be, especially when it comes to lifting boxes the size of card tables. I began to refer to my back as “Cereal,” because it was making such a variety of “snap, crackle and pop” sounds every time I bent over.
Eight train sets and six boxes of junk later, I was lying on the sofa and praying for a traveling chiropractor (one without a cell phone or GPS system in his car) to get lost on my road and appear on my doorstep, asking for help.
When I arrived at the yard sale early the next morning, just about all of the other sellers already had set up their tables. I figured they must have arrived in total darkness and felt their way around, holding flashlights between their teeth.
I’d thought I would be able to park my car right near my table space, but I had to park about a block away and carry everything from there. By the time I was halfway through, I was so exhausted, I was ready to leave the rest of the stuff in the car and sell just what I’d already unloaded. Luckily, my sister-in-law, who also was selling at the yard sale, spotted me and came to my rescue. If she hadn’t, someone probably would have found my body, twisted into a pretzel shape from a giant muscle spasm, lying on the ground next to my car.
I finally got everything set up and then eagerly waited to make money. I was determined to sell every item – mainly because I didn’t want to have to carry any of it back to the car.
I must confess I had a lot of fun watching and meeting people – some of whom were more interesting than others. There was one man who really wanted one of my $5 items. He came back three times, picked it up and looked at it, then put it back down. Finally, he asked me if I’d take $3 for it because that was all the money he had. I gave in and said OK.
Well, he reached into his pocket, pulled out a big roll of bills, peeled off three one-dollar bills and handed them to me. He then thanked me and walked off. I was so dumbfounded, I just stood there with my mouth open.
Then there was a little girl who fell in love with a craft item I painstakingly had worked hours on for a craft fair the year before. At the craft fair, I’d priced it at $20, but no one bought it. So at the yard sale, although it was torture, I priced it at only $1.
The little girl, who was with her father, picked up the item, “ooohed” over it and said she really wanted it. She asked her dad for a dollar. He flatly refused. I noticed, however, that he was carrying an armload of tools and video games. He then whispered something to her. The little girl looked up, smiled sweetly at me, fluttered her eyelashes and said, “Can I have this for free?”
If her father hadn’t given her the idea, I might have said yes, but his actions really irritated me.
“Sorry,” I said. “It’s a dollar, and a real steal at that price.”
Perhaps I shouldn’t have used the word “steal” because the girl held the craft item close to her chest and said defiantly, “Then I’ll just take it!” and began to walk off.
The father turned and gave me a pleading look, but I didn’t give in. Finally, he told the girl to put the item it back on the table. The look she gave me when she did, told me she hoped I’d be attacked by swarm of killer bees. I ended up not selling the item, but still, it was the principle of the thing.
By the end of the day, not one big-box item had sold. Most of my small stuff, however – the stuff that would have been easy to carry back to the car – was gone. I frowned at the huge train sets and swore I actually could hear my spine groaning in protest.
That’s when my brother-in-law, like a knight in shining armor, suddenly appeared, wheeling a dolly. “Need some help?” he asked.
I felt like kissing his feet.
Now, all of the items I brought home from the yard sale are still sitting in my car. I just don’t have the energy or ambition to unload them.
So if you’re in a parking lot at a mall or shopping center somewhere and a strange woman happens to approach you and says, “Pssst! Want to buy some nice model-train stuff, cheap? Just follow me to my car!”
It’ll probably be me.