February 09, 2004



Few things can match the debasement experienced when you drag everything you own and can't stand and then let total strangers dicker you on the price while the neighborhood gets to judge the quality of your unwanted possessions and make snap judgments on your quality of life.

We did that at our house over the weekend. We called it a garage sale.


Even better, I got up at 5 a.m. on Saturday, because I knew the freaks would be there at 6:30 a.m. - not the 7 a.m. time listed in the ad. When did it become okay for people to just show up at your house? When garage sales were created, of course.

That's my neighbor Drew on the left there drinking coffee. He and my wife spent the better part of the morning second-guessing me on prices. Here's the scenerio:

Her: "How much for this?"

Me: "I don't know. Three bucks?"

Her: "Three bucks!?!?"

At this point, I can tell I've offended the gods of domestic retail by either pricing too high or too low, because then she turns to the neighbor(s) and they mumble to each other until I adjust a price to where they like it.

Imagine this scenerio repeated 400 more times on objects varying from Spiderman torsos torn in half to enough computer equipment to run the shuttle. Then you know what my Saturday morning was like.

I tried to push the point that this was about moving product, not getting rich. I tried to make sure it was about regaining garage space. Didn't matter.


Even the dog was up for sale. His price? Very reasonable.


This was our first customer. Time: 6:30 a.m.

She came flying up in her compact car, got out and, with laser directness, went right for this frame with four $1 bills in it. I got this once as a present. I hated it, quite frankly, and never put it up on my wall. I wasn't sure what the gift-giver was trying to signify, since I wasn't going into business and I wasn't exactly a collector of low denominations in sequential order. So I sold it. For $3. She actually made money buying it!

The woman who picked it up thought I was nuts, but that's how bad I wanted to sell stuff that day. Plus, it encouraged her to buy other stuff that was worth more money.

Genius is so underappreciated.


People came in droves. Just waves and waves of them, like they were all being released from some bargain-hunting hatchery. At one point, my neighbor's wife accidentally spilled coffee on an old pair of my son's baseball cleats. She was upset but I told her not to worry. I told the next person who picked them up, "They're coffee-flavored." Guy bought them on the spot.


I saw this woman a mile away. Anyone who is going to wear Pooh overalls is gonna plunk down a sawbuck for a "Night Before Christmas Pooh Robot.'' She asked me not to take a photo of her face.

"You can shoot from here down,'' she said, drawing an invisible Maginot line at her bust.

I decided I couldn't do that to Pooh.

You may have gotten him for a buck, lady, but I exacted a psychic toll.


The Lucky Strike was a nice touch, I thought. Pooh's gonna have a few burn holes by next Christmas, mark my words.


I liked this guy. He showed up and immediately announced that he was a licensed gun collector and was looking to buy weapons. I told him I didn't have any for sale.

Then a thought hit me.

"How about a harpoon?"

Someone gave me a decorative harpoon at some point. It's been carted around for years from garage to garage. The guy looked at it, shrugged his shoulders and said, "What the hell."

On his way out, he picked up the framed Beatles portrait.

"You know,'' I told my neighbor, "I don't think that guy got up this morning and said, 'Today, I'm buying a harpoon and a Beatles photo.'"


There are so many things to talk about here. The shirt. The dog. The hair.

I'm gonna leave those alone. I think.

Okay, maybe not. I just have to say that although I love dogs, if you're a man and you're carrying a full-size poodle - not a toy poodle - to garage sales, just go ahead and have your testicles removed. They obviously haven't been used in a while and you won't be using them in the future.


Especially when you adorn the dog with purple beads and bows.

The best part about this original photo is the guy just over his shoulder:


This poor Joe, who had an extremely thick Charles Bronson-like accent, decided it was time for him to get on the Internet. He needed to get a computer. Cheap.

So he bought a monitor from me. Price: $3.

Then a printer. Price: $3.

Then a mouse. Fiddy cent.

"This all I need?" he asked.

"I don't know what you have already,'' I told him.

He grunted something, handed me my $6.50 and stormed off.

He came back 20 minutes later.

"You have cord?''

I had a cord for him, sure.

He gets in his truck and leaves.

He comes back two hours later.

"What about the... the.. the..." after which he makes the universal hand gesture for "THE FUCKING HARD DRIVE!!!!''

I walked into the garage, picked up a slower-than-molasses refurbished Gateway that my son had used maybe twice and handed it over. Didn't even charge him for it, it was that much fun to screw with him.

Posted by Jeff at February 9, 2004 08:32 AM | TrackBack

I've never hosted a garage sale where I live now.
1. we don't have a garage.
2. anything and everything could be used as weapons by these people.
3. standing on our sidewalk holding money is just asking for trouble.
4. I like my junk too much.
Yours looked like fun, though. :)

Posted by: LeeAnn at February 9, 2004 10:42 AM

Being a licensed harpoon dealer, I wish I would have known about the event.

Posted by: Parkway Rest Stop at February 10, 2004 10:09 PM