A World of Speculation

I was out yesterday tending our garage sale. A great day for it–hot, in the sun at least. But in the breezy shade under the tree in the front yard, I communed with Charles Williams (+), Elmore Leonard (-) and then Umberto Eco (!) as the people came, looked over our stuff, bargained it down, and took it away. It was too hot to sell the sweaters.

More than half the people who came were from somewhere else–Hispanics mostly, but also Slavs and Middle-Easterners, some with barely accented English, others with little English or none, paying 50 cents or a dollar for a clothes, books, puzzles, learn-to-read games. A Russian asked me if I’d take a quarter for a nice teen-ager’s fleece pullover (perfect for Oregon winters). I said it’s a good pullover; I was hoping for 50 cents. He looked dubious. Fifty cents. I said how about three for a dollar. Done. Hah. I drive a hard bargain, eh?

The best was the two little Hispanic girls with their mom, who bought I forget what and found she had enough left over to ask about the stuffed animals. My daughter is selling them for 50 cents for the little ones and a dollar for the big ones. Well, the little girls were so cute that we called the middle-sized bunnies they picked “small,” and they went away hugging their new toys.

Planning and organizing the things are always a hassle. Siphoning through the junk, putting the ad in the paper, putting up signs, coming up with displays. I always hate the idea of it, and then enjoy the negotiating, marketing, people-watching and long stretches of sitting in the shade with a book or talking to a neighbor. What can be better than that? (I know. A lot of things. But it’s up there–somewhere.)

I go away lighter (especially after delivering the unsold stuff to the Goodwill), and the folks go away with that special glow that comes from getting a nice stuffed toy for 50 cents or three good jackets for a dollar.