…Should probably go into the garbage.
Every Spring the flowers bloom, leaves begin to populate our trees and people decide it is time to clean out their garages, basements and other cluttered rooms in their homes. Often, they fill trucks or vans with unwanted “stuff” and donate it or take it to the dump. Others make the decision that it will be better to haul everything they don’t want in their own houses out onto their front yards and see what they can sell to their neighbors.
I find it fascinating that people start early in the morning setting up their yard sale displays. Some will make signs, review the local traffic patterns and post them at all of the busiest street corners. The signs are typically brightly colored, often with children’s artwork on them or other hand drawn pictures intended to entice passers-by to turn down the road and discover what treasures might be waiting for them. Others prefer to call it what it is as the owner of the sign above chose to do. At least they were being honest.
People will spend hours of preparation pricing the items they want to sell. How do you establish the market value of a five-year old Chia-Pet? I don’t understand the complex economics of yard sale price determination but somehow the seasoned veterans just intuitively know. Occasionally there is a rebellious yard sale merchant who, due to a clever strategy or just plain laziness, leaves the prices off of everything and prefers to simply say “make me an offer”.
“Uhhh, I don’t know…I’ll give you $3.00 for that stuffed racoon”.
“$3.00?” he questions as if I have insulted his intelligence. “I couldn’t accept less than $5.00…look at those teeth, $5.00.”
Of course, I didn’t actually want the thing, I was just wondering what someone expected to get for a dead racoon. “$4.00” I say, “that’s as high as I can go.”
He squinted and cocked his head a bit as he looked into my eyes like a poker player trying to see if I was bluffing. “$4.50 and not a penny less” he says.
“That’s okay” I say as I turn to walk away.
“Okay, Okay $4.00…the racoon is yours.”
“Ahh, Sweet Victory!”…Wait… I just bought a stuffed racoon!!!!
As I count out four dollars I can hear my wife’s voice back at home saying “you bought what?”
“But Honey, I talked the guy down from $5.00!” I will say, as if that somehow justifies my bringing home a giant stuffed rodent.
With my racoon under one arm, I head over to browse through the box of old books (the only thing with a price on it)… “Books 25 cents / 5 for $1.00”. An author’s nightmare to be sure. I begin to look through the box and discover such fascinating titles as “How to Crochet Socks for Fun and Profit “, “Yahtzee Strategies of the Professionals” and “The Partridge Family’s – A Groovy Christmas Story” to name just a few.
As I start to leave, I spot it perched on a table next to an Atari game console. Perhaps one of the most amazing gadgets ever invented (with the possible exception of the wheel and the electric lightbulb)…the Inside the Egg Scrambler! As the racoon and I approach the table, man walks over and watches as I examine the Scrambler. I tried to keep a straight face, like when I wanted to buy that new car but I couldn’t let the salesman know it. “Does it work?” I ask.
“Only used it once, the day after Father’s day” the man said. “Still has the instructions in the box. Make me an offer.”
I try to stall while I quickly calculate the street value of a practically mint condition Scrambler. Let’s see, it sold on TV for $19.95, it is probably ten years old but only used once…”I’ll give you $5.00 I said to the man expecting that he would want at least $7.00″.
“Sold” he said holding out his hand.
Sold? What have I done? I should have started lower…$2 or $3….Man, I think I just got ripped off! I handed the man a $5 bill and I could swear I saw him grin as I turned to leave with the dead racoon under one arm, the Inside the Egg Scrambler under the other arm and $9.00 less cash in my pocket.
So, you might have guessed that this is not really a true story. Although, I did see a stuffed dog once at a yard sale…the black was pealing off of its nose. The owner said he’d had it Freeze Dried. I have found some decent things at yard sales, mostly for the girls when they were very little. Clothes, tricycles, things that little kids grow out of so fast that they don’t get ruined. But mostly what I have seen is a bunch of junk sitting in organized piles on people’s yards.
There is a joke about a little boy who is visiting a farm and sees a very large pile of manure. He runs and dives head first into the stinky mound. His mother comes running over and screams at him “what do you think you are doing?”
The little boy pokes his head out and says “with all this crap, there has to be a pony in here somewhere!”
Now that’s a true Optimist!