There was the year I spent as a high school sophomore pining for a senior pom-pom girl. There was the semester I spent in Ithaca, thinking I was actually quantifiably skilled enough to get a Cornell MBA. There were the hours I spent watching the Dino de Laurentiis version of King Kong and Michael Minghella’s The English Patient.
This weekend’s garage sale ranks up there with all of them as another colossal waste of time. Taking part in the city’s annual citywide garage sale, I spent hours worrying (see this post from several weeks ago) and preparing everything: getting stuff down from the attic, dusting, pricing, categorizing, setting up in the garage to see if I had enough table space, checking eBay for comparative prices, baking cookies, buying water, setting aside a box of free stuff – everything to have a nice presentation and even refreshments. (All proceeds were to go to the local humane society, and I asked for a 25-cent donation per cookie and water.)
The morning was characterized by things that didn’t happen.
I got lots of advice from people ahead of time. Many said that perennial early birds would knock on my door before the official start time, asking to peruse everything first. Didn’t happen.
Others said that professionals would offer me a low, flat rate to take everything in one fell swoop. Didn’t happen.
Still more advised to be prepared for hagglers. Didn’t happen.
I asked my stepbrother to join me so that someone could watch over the merchandise in case I got deluged by people. Didn’t happen.
The other thing that didn’t happen? Not too many people came by and I didn’t sell too much stuff. Some people stopped, walked up one side of the tables and down the other, and got back in their cars. I have no idea what people were looking for – well, one guy wanted a bicycle and another said he was looking for DVDs – but it was clear that whatever it was, it wasn’t on the driveway. Some people just swung into the cul-de-sac, and then kept on rolling. I’ve heard of drive-by shootings, but never drive-by shopping.
In the first hour, most of the money I had came from the sale of cookies. I could just as easily have had a bake sale. One man took six of the free pens and insisted on giving me two dollars.
By noon, I had no intention of spending another three hours in the driveway, letting people sneer at my belongings. As if to second my decision, the skies startled sprinkling. We moved everything back in to the garage (making it a real garage sale), took a couple more visitors, and then closed up shop.
I don’t know how many items I actually sold, but after three hours of sitting with my step-brother, only about two-dozen people had come by. We made $31.50. (That amount more than doubled when my step-brother took some stuff with him when he went home and gave me $40.)
Frankly, this was a blow to my ego. Everyone, myself included, thinks that they have taste. A lot of the items on the driveway were things I’d purchased and simply didn’t have room for anymore. But they were still mine, things I’d cherished at one time. I thought it was rather nice of me to send them out into the world, so that other people could enjoy them.
But whadya know, they’re still mine. At least until I can get to Goodwill.