I couldn’t help it. My life had grown so chaotic that I committed the ultimate act of despair.
I had a garage sale.
Actually, as these words are being written, the sale is ongoing. Unfortunately for both regular readers, it will have been long closed by the time you read these words with your morning coffee or evening libations.
I say unfortunately because I am the world’s worst salesman. That, coupled with the fact that my garage was filled to bursting with cool outdoor stuff priced dirt cheap, makes for a major lost opportunity for those of you who weren’t fortunate enough to stop by our little estate on the prairie this morning.
Like most American males, I hate garage sales with a passion. In fact, I would choose to voluntarily have a rusty fishhook impaled into my left eyeball rather than submit to a morning of “garage sailing” with my spouse or mother. However, when the barn clutter reached the point where I was forced to tunnel like a coal miner just to reach the duck decoys, it was time to do something.
I initially thought I could become an internet auction baron, using the services of that hugely popular website that sounds like it was named in pig Latin. However, once all the accumulated items had been piled in my garage for cataloging, I realized that selling all everything in this fashion would likely require a full-time staff of seven people.
Therefore, I heaved a few dozen giant sighs, steeled my resolve and set about preparing for the day when complete strangers would come into my home and take many of my closely held possessions.
To my great surprise the first shoppers arrived nearly two hours before the scheduled opening, far later that I had anticipated. Armed with stupid enthusiasm and fifty dollars in change, I opened the garage door and prepared for the onslaught.
I immediately noticed something I found humorous: most women hated my sale. I found myself laughing at the obvious disgust ladies displayed upon first seeing the bushels of duck decoys and backpacks. Their men folk, meanwhile, were simpering about, clapping gleefully like toddlers and furtively counting pocket change.
We did have a few token purses for sale courtesy of my wife. These were snatched up in a heartbeat as the women ran back to their cars, ordering their mates to follow within five minutes under threat of a serious cold shoulder penalty. Staying true to “the guy code,” none of the men followed within a reasonable time frame, loosely defined as “sometime during the morning hours.”
In fact, the garage sale turned into a giant bull session as the gathering crowd cussed and discussed the various uses of the accumulated gear. This would then lead from one story to the next, like a bird dog nosing through cover.
One man would pick up a fishing lure from the dollar table and the discussion would finally end with another man standing on a chair, pantomiming an impossible physical position while explaining, “there I was, hanging by my fingernails 10,000 feet over the Rogue River…”
I would have probably heard more of the stories if it weren’t for the chorus of honking horns in the driveway.
The sale made more money than I anticipated but more importantly, I gained valuable space in my barn and attic. This was the goal, I kept reminding myself, since it was obvious in sales parlance I had been “severely beaten about the head and neck.”
I am a terrible sales person.
I started the morning vowing not to be taken in by any sharp customers. Unfortunately, there is a sizeable segment of the population who, when not busy negotiating hostage releases in the Middle East, practice their skills on unsuspecting U.S. garage sale proprietors. Several of these folks stopped by my house. By mid-afternoon, the following conversation took place-
Customer: “How much would you take for this crossbow?”
Me: “It’s marked $200 firm.”
Customer: “I’ll give you two dollars, three rusty washers and some pocket lint.”
Me: “I’ll take it and throw in the arrows for free.”
Obviously you don’t want to hire me to work at your automobile dealership.
Anyway, the end of the sale is approaching and I should feel good about the world. By investing slightly over 10,000 hours of my time, I have dramatically uncluttered my home, made a little money, spent an entire day meeting new people and made several local outdoors enthusiasts entirely too happy.
I suppose that is enough good work for one day. In conclusion, I am indeed tired, very slightly richer, less cluttered and yes, happy.
Have you yet guessed on what I plan on doing with all the money raised via our one-day amateur excursion into capitalism?
One hint: there’s plenty of space in the barn.