I was in the basement the other day and I couldn’t believe how much “stuff” was down there.
Without exaggeration, there are so many 20-gallon plastic storage tubs stacked on top of each other everywhere, the basement resembles a maze through the Himalayas. I honestly fear for my life when I go down there because I have visions of being crushed beneath a sudden avalanche of storage tubs (many of which contain Star Wars collectible toys) and my cause of death will be listed as, “accidentally impaled by Darth Vader’s lightsaber.”
The reason why I was in the basement was because I’d been inspired by a recent episode of the Antiques Roadshow. That’s the TV show where people find what looks like junk they’ve fished out of a dumpster in a back alley somewhere and they bring it to the show to be appraised by experts. The amazing part is just about every item, no matter how cruddy or beaten up it looks, turns out to be worth a small fortune.
“Yes,” the expert will say, examining a bent, warped walking stick.. “I can tell just by the shape of this and the carvings on it, that it's the same walking stick that was used by Sir Edmund Hillary when he became the first man to climb Mount Everest."
“Really?” the person who brought it in to be appraised responds with about as much enthusiasm as someone who’s just awakened after major surgery. “So, what’s it worth?”
“Well,” the expert answers, “If this stick were to come up for auction, I expect it easily could go for as much as 2 million dollars.”
“That’s nice,” the owner says in a monotone. “But I think I’ll just hang on to it…for sentimental reasons.”
Heck, if someone ever gave me news like that, I would pick up the appraiser and spin him around, and then do cartwheels across the appraisal-room’s floor. And to heck with sentimental value. I would unload the item on the first person who showed interest in it…and looked rich.
Anyway, after watching the show, I was certain that somewhere hidden in the catacombs of my basement was an item that would make me instantly wealthy. All I had to do was find it.
I hate to say it, but my husband and I spent our entire married life collecting things. One year, we collected dollhouse furniture. The next, it was Star Wars and Star Trek toys. Another year, my husband bought thousands of trading cards while I became obsessed with Barbie dolls. And as our house began to resemble the main warehouse for Toys R Us, our friends and relatives, knowing how much we enjoyed collecting things, generously added to our collections every Christmas and birthday by buying us even more things.
So the other day, I spent hours in the basement, searching through containers of stuff I didn’t even know I had. It was like going on a treasure hunt because I never knew what I might find – living, dead or otherwise.
Two unusual items I discovered during my search included a David Hasselhoff Baywatch doll and a talking Donald Trump doll that shouts, “You’re fired!” I suspected, however, that neither one was going to make me independently wealthy.
Then I came across a heavy box, still sealed. I lugged it upstairs and opened it. Inside was a solid pewter sculpture from the movie, “The Lord of the Rings.” It depicted the nine members of the Fellowship of the Ring – Hobbits, elves, a wizard, a dwarf and more, all meticulously sculpted.
I’d never seen it before and had no idea how it ended up in the basement. But to me, it looked like something that just might be worth big bucks.
So I listed it on an eBay auction with an opening bid of $100. Someone immediately bid on it. I was excited, thinking I’d found an item worthy of the Antiques Roadshow – an item that was going to increase my financial status to the same level as the Rockefellers’. I had visions of myself hiring a private jet for my next vacation.
The sculpture sold for $295.
The only plane I could hire for that amount would be the kind that comes in a box, has to be assembled and is operated by a remote control.
Still, I thought $295 wasn’t a bad amount for something I hadn’t even known was gathering dust down in the basement. I notified the high bidder and eagerly awaited her payment.
But instead of receiving my anticipated $295, I received an email from the woman. In it, she said, “I’m very sorry, but my young son bid on this without my knowledge. I hope you’ll understand, but I’m not going to pay for it.”
I wrote back and told her I understood, all the while secretly hoping her son would be grounded and not be allowed to touch a computer or any other electronic means of communication until his 21st birthday.
Then eBay suggested I try what’s called a second-chance offer and offer the sculpture to the next highest bidder. I checked his bid and it was $290, which wasn’t too far off the high bid. So I sent him a second-chance offer, which was good for only 24 hours.
“Wonderful! I want it!” he responded…72 hours later.
To which eBay informed him, “Sorry, but the offer has expired.”
Desperate, I tried to arrange for the guy to privately buy the sculpture from me, but I soon discovered eBay doesn’t allow private transactions. For one thing, they won’t release any email addresses, so all correspondence has to go directly through them. In other words, there is no way they’re going to allow someone to cheat them out of their commission.
It took a while, but I went through all of the proper channels at eBay and finally sold the sculpture to the second-highest bidder.
He turned out to be from Germany. I’d listed the shipping cost at $13.50. When I brought the package to the post office, however, the shipping charges to Germany ended up being $82. I practically needed a defibrillator.
So I’m beginning to think it might be a good idea if I refrain from watching the Antiques Roadshow for a while.
In the meantime, if you know of anyone who’d like to buy a talking Donald Trump doll, I have one here…cheap.