It seemed like a good idea when I brought it up to Rosalie, renting a space at the Johnson Rec Center parking lot for the big all-city garage sale yesterday. Fifteen bucks for the space, eight bucks to rent a table. She thought it would be a good way to get rid of some of the baggage we’d acquired in the last several decades. It seemed like such a good idea that she took two days off from work, Friday to get ready and Saturday to go with me to our parking lot space.
We had organized our stuff a week before the sale, Rosalie taking care of all the odds and ends in our cupboards—knick knacks and bud vases and electric juicers and coasters and thermoses, even a crystal punch bowl with eight cups hanging from hooks alongside the bowl, one of my more stupid purchases years ago when we had a cocktail party with too many guests. And a vacuum sweeper we’d replaced with a newer, bigger vacuum. And the two bikes we hadn’t ridden in about ten years. And I organized the many many books I no longer needed (still wanted, but no longer needed) and all the cd’s I’d acquired, no longer needing them because the music they contained was now safely harbored in my computer, and all my excessive golf equipment I no longer needed since my golfing days seem near an end. Friday afternoon I had loaded the car with our long folding table and the card table, and all the boxes of inside stuff and some of the boxes of my books and one of the bikes. The organizing and getting ready was finally at an end, and Friday night was here. And the next day we could get this good idea on the road.
We arose at 4:15, left the house at 5:10 for our 5:15 arrival at the parking lot. Got there in pitch darkness, where a young man directed us to our assigned spot. Unloaded the car. Returned home for another load while Rosalie stayed behind to start arranging our stuff. Loaded a bunch more boxes of books and all my cd’s (about 300), some of the golf stuff, and the other bike. Back to Rosalie. Unloaded. Returned home, but by this time, the 6:30 deadline for cars in the area approached. Somehow I muscled a large, very heavy bookcase into the trunk (the bookcase, lying across two tables, would hold the books), the rest of the books, the rest of the golf stuff, back to unload right at 6:30. Parked the car in the vendor spaces and got back to Rosalie in time to get set up for the 7:00 starting time. All together, there were over a hundred people who had rented spaces for the sale. As the day lightened, I could see tents and large picnic umbrellas going up, tables covered with wares, vendors and early purchasers wandering around, checking out all the stuff everyone had brought to sell. I was surprised to see so many sites with clothes to sell, even one nearby with shoes and used socks. Who in the world would want to buy used shoes, let alone used socks? That’s just one cut above buying used underwear. I shudder to think about anyone wanting to buy either.
The sun rose in a cloudless sky, a breezeless day, temps rising into the high 80’s, the mid-90’s in the sun. Which is where we were for seven hours until we could pack up and come home at 1:00. I had enough sense to wear a hat, but Rosalie was there without, not even sunscreen. It was a long, sunny day.
And it was a long weary day watching people wander up to paw through the books and cd’s, to look at and inquire about the prices on my five sets of irons, my multitude of old drivers and 3-woods and oddball hybrids, all the sleeves of golf balls I’d bought and then tucked away for some future time when I’d need them, the bikes, the vacuum sweeper. I thought at the price I’d set for the books and cd’s, a buck apiece, that I’d have lots of people realizing what a good deal that was, especially for the cd’s. Wrong. Most bought from one to five. Only one guy was smart enough to find 21 cd’s he wanted. A lady asked if I had any Elvis and I told her I thought the day the music died was the day Elvis first stepped on stage. Oh, my, was she incensed.
As the day wore on, we kept dropping the prices on nearly everything. The bikes and vacuum went for $15 apiece, one of the iron sets for $30, the glassware and knickknacks went for about a penny on the dollar. I’d forgotten how little either of us liked to engage in haggling. And it seemed that nobody wanted anything they couldn’t get for practically nothing.
Finally, 1:00 came limping in and we were able to pack up and bring home more than half of what we’d taken. And we were hot, and dirty, and more weary than either of us had felt for a very long time. We sat on the patio, panting, heaving sighs of exhaustion, shaking our heads. We counted the money. About $400 on stuff that was originally worth well over $5,000. That came to about eight cents on the dollar.
It had NOT been a good day, it had NOT been a good idea. Why must we learn life’s lessons only after it's too late? We took hot showers to cleanse ourselves of the grit from our labors, to cleanse ourselves of the psychic grit from selling ourselves like whores on a midnight street corner. And we swore to each other that we would never again engage in a garage sale. Never, never, never. NEVER!