A few years ago, I found myself possessed of way too much stuff. I made an attempt to deliver it to the local GoodIntentions and was greeted frostily by a drop-off manager who had just been snookered into taking fifteen liquor boxes of garbage from some yuppie in an Escalade. Not nice. But still, my boxes and bags were full of clothes, shoes, books, records, and all kinds of household sundry-type stuff that people dig at the GoodIntentions. The Drop-Off Brahmin sniffed at my boxes and bags, declared the two he'd looked through acceptable and then snapped his fingers so two of his eunuchs could carry them into the store. Cheered by the approval, I started to unload the rest of my stuff.
"Wait just a minute, Missy! I have to look through those, too."
"Every one of them?" I was incredulous.
He stared at me and didn't so much as twitch when a fly landed on top of his forehead. Now, that was zen. It was also very unfortunate because I had to be somewhere very soon and had no time for each bag to be inspected and approved. I offered to leave everything there and they could throw away what they didn't want. No dice. So, I went back home with everything minus the two bags of stuff they'd taken in and got on with my day.
When Big Gay Kevin suggested a garage sale, it seemed like a good idea. People would get to dig for cheap thrills and I could pick up a little money. It sounded like a plan to me and settled on the following Saturday.
The Friday before, I made some signs and went to the intersections closest to my house to put them up. As I was putting up my last sign, an older man pulled up to read it. A lot of people had been doing that and then pulling away, sometimes shouting a cheery "See ya tomorrow!" so I didn't think much of it.
"You got computers?" he asked.
"No," I said, "It's mostly clothes, books, some movies and music and small household stuff."
"Well, lemme go see what you got."
I was taken by surprise by this. "You mean right now?"
He chuffed and said, "Well, yeah. I'll follow you home and check out your stuff."
Two things came to mind: everything to be sold was in a box or a bag to be put out tomorrow and this guy gave me the creeps.
"Ah no." I said "Thanks, but I've got some stuff to do so it isn't a good time. You're welcome to come tomorrow when I've got everything out."
"I won't come tomorrow." He said in an odd challenging way that I couldn't place at first, but realized that it was the same tone my nephew used when he would tell me I was no longer the coolest aunt ever for not getting him a Slurpee AND Angry Angry Beavers Bubblegum Cards.
"Oh, well." I said and gathered my tools and got into my car and drove away.
The hours on the sign said the sale lasted from 8 to 2. At Kevin's behest, I added "No Earlybirds Please!".
At a quarter to six the next morning, I went out to get my paper and saw a van with Indiana tags parked in my driveway. A short, sparkplug-shaped woman wearing an "I Heart eBay" shirt was trying to force open my garage door.
"May I help you?" I asked. For those of you not familiar with Tennessee manners and mores, "May I help you?" means "I don't know you, you're scaring me, and I'm about to get my big strappin' male cousins to escort you out of my personal space."
"You need to let me in so I can look at your stuff."
I was a hardened pro by now.
"No can do!" I said breezily, "The sale starts at eight. You're welcome to come back then."
"I won't come back!" she snapped. I shrugged and went back to my porch.
She glared at me and bellowed at the van, "Beverly! Start the van! We're leaving NOW!"
I saw the van lurch to the right as the sparkplug climbed into the van and poor, put upon Beverly, who was saddled the double challenges of marriage to the sparkplug and being given a woman's name, pulled away. Sparkplug rolled down her window and barked, "I'm not coming baaaaack!" as they rolled down the street.
Oh, but she did come back. And so did the creepy guy from the day before. And so did a number of other very original souls who I had no idea lived in my part of the state. I also got to know my neighbors better, made a little money and got the phone number of a man who wanted to be called if my neutered male dog ever had puppies.
copyright 2006 Jas Faulkner