Dear readers, you might remember from a previous blog that I don’t enjoy going to or participating in yard sales. Traipsing through someone’s collection of used tools, ancient cassettes, old Christmas ornaments, and dozens of frayed wicker baskets is not my idea of fun. Perhaps if I were a collector of things, I’d froth at the mouth when given the opportunity to discover a Tiny Tears doll or a stack of weathered National Geographic magazines. But I’m not a collector, I never played with dolls, and the old Nat. Geo. mags feature articles about countries that no longer exist. Consequently, it’s very easy for me to drive past a yard sale and keep my foot on the accelerator.
What wasn’t so easy was pretending I didn’t read our neighbor’s email… the one that invited us to join the rest of the families on our block who’d agreed that having a neighborhood yard sale the second Saturday in October was a spectacular idea.
While my spouse, Vivian, yelled, “Yes,” and immediately raced to the basement in search of merchandise, reluctantly I dragged myself down the stairs and collected boxes we could fill with objects we haven’t used since the end of the last century. For one shining moment I was buoyed by the expectation of lightening our load of things, things, and more things. But just when I thought we’d cleared a few inches of shelf space, the hammer struck.
“No! We can’t sell that! You never know when it will come in handy!” Viv shrieked.
I shrugged an “oh well,” and wondered how we’d be able to use a can of dried paint.
By later that day I knew I was knee-deep into this yard sale project. And I do mean knee-deep. Hours of lugging stuff up from the basement had my knees begging for mercy. My back joined the pain-party after we carried an old door from the backyard shed to the driveway. The resurrected door had a second life. It would serve as a table to display a few of our “finer” offerings.
Yard sale Saturday began cold but sunny. The early birds arrived before we could finish setting up our wares. Too bad they’d miss an opportunity to purchase the one-person sized slide viewer, or the four mechanical can openers, or the heavy-ass glass ash trays that were made to hold the ashes of an entire pack of cigarettes plus a few cigars.
An older gentleman meandered down the driveway and stopped to look at a dangle bracelet we were selling.
“Is this real gold?” he asked.
“Sure.” I said. Obviously, the sarcasm in my voice eluded him.
“How much you want for it?”
“Two dollars and it’s yours.” I wasn’t carrying that bracelet back into the house. In fact, I was not going to carry anything back into the house.
Watching our neighbor and her husband conduct their sales was like seeing ourselves in a mirror. Viv and neighbor B. were twin whirling dervishes. They greeted each shopper with a staccato “good morning” that could shatter the glass in the mirrors we we’re trying to unload. B.’s husband, T., and I were of the same mind. We agreed early on to slash all the prices during a spontaneous “attention-Kmart shoppers” kind of announcement. By noon we’d planned to have several giveaways.
In advance of the early afternoon closing time, I began repacking boxes and putting them in my car. There final destination was a Goodwill Donation Center not far from us.
Another neighborhood yard sale has come and gone. In its wake are four take-aways.
- This year no one asked us if we had any guns to sell. Yay! Or maybe the gun buyers have bought their allotment.
- Before the opening bell, I heard footsteps in the driveway. They belonged to our favorite first-grader, E. “Can I help you and Ms. Viv with anything?” Her offer of help was the sweetest gift.
- One of the second-grader triplets who live next door to us insisted upon paying a quarter for a lanyard she knew her grandmother would love. She refused to accept a freebie. Thankfully, I was able to issue a full refund (secretly) to her grandfather later that day.
- Every customer who approached our bargain merchandise smiled at us and shared a pleasant thought. That’s saying something in today’s fractious environment. Once upon a time civility was taken for granted. Today, it’s an unexpected joy.
© Renée Bess, 2022
Renée Bess writes fiction, poetry, and creative non-fiction. Her most recent book, Between a Rock and a Soft Place, as well as her six previous books, can be purchased or ordered from: http://www.bellabooks.com, http://www.amazon.com, http://www.barnesandnoble.com, and http://www.kobobooks.com. For more information, please visit her website, http://www.reneebess.com