Salmon migrating upstream. The tears of Isis flooding the Nile or public drunkenness arrests during Spring Break. Some things in life a just a given to happen. The annual community yard sale is another one of those happenings.
Once a year, our homes are purged of the gifts we got from relatives we never see, holiday parties at work, and 2 for 1 sales at Payless. While guilt keeps you from merely depositing your Great Aunt Rose’s Christmas ceramic salt and pepper shakers into your local landfill, selling those shakers for $1.25 helps to put that guilt to rest(just don’t tell Aunt Rose).
When Hannah read about our community yard sale from the green construction paper sign hanging from a telephone pole at the edge of our development I was thrust into figuring out what in the house we could sell(damn Hannah’s new found literacy). Myself, I feel no such emotions of guilt from letting the fine men of AJ Bloneski’s hauling away our clutter. My wife? Racked with guilt. Anytime I throw something away it’s like the Tell Tale Heart only it’s not a dead guy under the floor, it’s a candy dish from the dollar store her cousin got her for a Secret Santa gift sitting in our trash can calling out to her. It didn’t help that my kids began to inventory everything in the basement for the sale(given enough time I’m sure they would have found a way to break down the pool table and get it out to the garage).
So the night before the sale, I’m in my garage arranging our makeshift store like the elves who helped that poor Cobbler. I break all sorts of man codes when I convert my Black and Decker portable work bench into a toy display. Two 10 gallon Tupperware containers stacked on top of each other becomes a place for puzzles and other games. Simultaneously I am also playing goalie for my kids. I have to send them back in the house telling them to return the randomly snatched items they think are good to sell tomorrow(I guess I should have explained my alarm clock and their mom’s hairdryer weren’t for sale before we started?).
The sale is set to start at 8am. This means people will inevitably begin cruising around your block like a Tiger Shark going in for a kill shortly after the sun rises(don’t be surprised if you get a knock on your door either). Keep in mind most of these people are the same humans who wait in line for three days on the sidewalk waiting for an X-Box, trample Walmart employees during ‘Black Friday’ sales, and expect a full steak dinner 10 minutes before a restaurant closes.
8:00am sharp I open the garage door to reveal my bounty. I’m hoping for a ‘Oh my god, this is the first time we saw One Eyed Willy’s pirate ship’, mouth agape, eyes wide opened response. What I get is the flow of human traffic divert to my garage in a mildly interested manner(I can’t help but think how much this reminds me of a George A Romero zombie film).
At any yard sale, you get a few types of shoppers. Those who are looking for the hidden Constitution in a picture frame or some other rare treasure unknowingly being sold for $.50 to be shown on Antiques Roadshow. Then you have the bargain seekers. Those people who would rather spend $1.00 for a pair of socks instead of shelling out $5.00 at Target for a pack. There are the parents and grandparents looking for toys for their kids and then there are the people who have nothing better to do on a Saturday and have $3.50 in their pocket and are looking to fill the trunks of their cars.
I can tell you that my Tub Time Dora the Explorer has no hidden draft of the Declaration of Independence and Ming Ming isn’t housing Spanish doubloons. My puzzles are guaranteed to be missing the last three pieces needed to complete them and my baby changing table should have been chemically scrubbed before putting it out.
I chained Penny out front to be my literal and figurative barker to bring in some patrons(even at the risk of being annoyed by Marley references). I’m $2.50 in the black when the Fisher Price slide and Puss in Boots stuffed animal are sold. Penny is pulling people in left and right(she will get paid in Pupperoni’s).
Two guys who are conversing in another language(I think I may have caught a ‘me gusta’ so I’m guessing Spanish) have their interest piqued by the television set I have out. After some deliberation and a demonstration to show them it works, I pocket $10.
I can see it in people’s eyes every purchase is like when Peter Minuit bought Manhattan for twenty four dollars and some pelts from the Native Americans. They think they are stealing my kid’s Kung Fu Panda set for $3.00. I’m just glad someone is willing to pay money for stuff I was more than willing to throw away(If wampum were legal tender I’d take that too).
As the congestion begins to thin so do my opportunities for another buck. My neighbor across the street, who has more inventory on his front lawn than an Amway salesman has in his basement, is beginning to breakdown his stands. With no real end time, his cleaning up signaled to me it was time to call it a day.
I pulled in $35 for items that would have been on the curb Tuesday night. $4.00 of the thirty five went to Mr. Softee who was going through a development bursting at the seams with kids(Talk about striking while the iron is hot?). I dished out another $2.00 for the girls to go around and buy something we are sure to put out during next year’s sale. So I ended the day with $29.00 net. Not bad considering I didn’t want to do this from the beginning.
As I was cleaning up there were still rogue patrons hunting down that right buy with the change left in their car. Some people were looking in boxes oblivious to the homeowners putting away said boxes. I thought closing the garage door would be a good idea at this point before someone stops to ask about my tools or my lawnmower or worse, asks if the grill were still open.
- Gentlemen, you will permit me to put on my spectacles, for, I have grown not only gray, but almost blind in the service of my country (and bald...and cranky...and out of shape...in the service of being a parent) - George Washington
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