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Yard sale breaks records just so owners won't have to sell them

June 06, 2012

For years, I have worked my way through the “seven stages of yard sale:” Shock, pain, anger, depression, etc., and finally reluctant acceptance. I keep my distance, avert my eyes when I see one and more or less try to pretend they don’t exist.

The reasons are deep and complex. Some are practical; I cannot count the number of times I have almost slammed into the rear of a vehicle that, with no warning, came to a dead stop in the middle of a busy highway, its occupants staring at a spread of junk, trying to decide if it was worth pulling over.

Other reasons are more societal and theoretical. There’s something about turning your house inside out, exposing its innermost contents to the light of day for all to see — and judge. I mean, let’s be honest; about the only difference between this stuff and trash is that it’s on a table instead of inside a green plastic bag on the curb, where it probably belongs.

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As noted in a previous column, a recent move had forced us to re-examine 30 years of belongings, most of which hadn’t been used in the past 27. At this point there are three options: Dump, charity or yard (gulp) sale.

(Although my Aunt Julie recently pointed out a fourth rail, which is an interesting soup of false flattery and guilt. It involves approaching your friends with an unwanted item that you can’t bear to throw away outright, and saying: “This crock has been in our family for seven generations, and it was used by Napoleon’s chef in 1492 at the Battle of Thermopylae to make pickles, and we want to take it with us but can’t, so we were thinking of someone really special who would appreciate it, and — no pressure to take it of course, but we want you to have it .…”)

But we ran out of friends long before we ran out of items.

So we braced ourselves for the inevitable; we would hold a yard sale. Our friends donated their driveway, and we piled everything into the horse trailer and pitched it on the asphalt.

Beth is maybe even less thrilled with yard sales than I am, so neither of us was inclined to play by the rules. We didn’t price anything, we didn’t organize the junk into categories, and we didn’t even have a “Yard Sale” sign on the theory that most people around here can smell one three miles away.

We just more or less threw everything into a big heap and stood back.

I did not attend because I was busy moving (under the circumstances, the lightest boxes a man has ever hoisted, I can assure you). But Beth found it a fascinating study in spite of herself, turning strangers to friends in seconds as she is wont to do.

She sold a lot of stuff, basically because, for her, the whole affair could not be over soon enough.

Apparently, there were a lot of offers that went:

“Would you take …?”

“Yes.”

“But I haven’t said how much I’d …”

“I don’t care, take it.”

“Well don’t you want to know …”

“I said take it and get out.”

In what has to be a first in the history of yard sales, she even had one fellow tell her she wasn’t asking enough. This really threw some yard sale veterans who are determined to talk down the price or die:

“How much is this saw?” “One cent.” “Too much.” “Make me an offer.”

Our yard sale was supposed to last the weekend, but, no lie, after 2 1/2 hours I got a call from Beth, who had had quite enough. I understood. I came and got her, and trucked the rest of the stuff to Goodwill without a peep.

Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 6997, or via email at timr@herald-mail.com.

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