In Which the Prof Suspects That Yard Sales Violate the 8th Amendment

As part of the ongoing relocation, we decided to get rid of some items we would never use or had outgrown in one way or another. Indeed, it was in the process of preparing for this that we discovered my recent loss of books and papers. So yesterday we got things set up, and we posted signs announcing that we would host a yard sale at Spackle Manor at 8. This meant that Clan Mondo got up on a school-day schedule, with Mrs. M heading over at 7 for a bit of last-minute prep.

The early birders were out in force — semi-pro antiquers, “pickers”, and such. One of them was particularly pushy, badgering Mrs. M for a pre-opening chance to go through the stuff. However, as a first-grade teacher, Mrs. M is impervious to badgering (Heck, she’s probably impervious to wolverining, as far as it goes), and she shooed the guy back to the end of the drive, where he waited with the rest of the horde while the Spawn and I arrived and assisted.

At the appointed hour, I cleared a path, took a position with our cashbox, and watched the early birders go through our garage with the voracity and focus of a marabunta raid. Mrs. M had priced the stuff at typical yard-sale levels (which meant that I tended to wince a lot when I’d look at the prices, but on the other hand, it’s not like we were benefiting from the stuff anyway. Still, the deals were sweet for the buyers, and I managed to keep my flinching to a minimum.

And things were running smoothly until the pushy guy showed up with a load of stuff, including a dulcimer my father had built and that we had overlooked when we were putting away the not-for-sale stuff. I told him that we were sorry, but the dulcimer wasn’t for sale, and Mrs. M took it from his pile and moved it to one of our vehicles. The guy didn’t take this well, and groused loudly, but I repeated that the dulcimer wasn’t for sale. We sold him the rest of his stuff and he went on his way.

A little later, Mrs. M and I were talking, and she said, “We should have just told him to go away.” I agreed, but we just chalked it up to experience. A little later, an older lady expressed interest in an old window air conditioner, but said she’d need to go home and get a different vehicle (and a couple of grandsons and/or nephews to help her get it into the trunk.) Mrs. M said that would be fine, and the lady departed, saying she’d be back within the hour.

About a half-hour later, Pushy Guy apparently decided we were worth more scavenging than any of Mondoville’s other home emporia and returned to pick through an assortment of some old toys — one or two may even have worked, but I can’t prove it. His eye fell on the air conditioner, and he loudly asked what we’d take for it. Mrs. M told him that we were holding it for the lady who had gone to get the vehicle. In a voice that would peel paint, he blustered that we hadn’t offered to hold stuff for him, and that the customer was always right, and it wasn’t fair!

I was doing cashier duties and couldn’t abandon the till, but just as I was getting ready to tell him that a) this wasn’t our profession and b) we missed the memo that included Robert’s Rules of Garage Sales, it became apparent that I didn’t need to. Mrs. M stepped up to him, and began to speak.

“You have been pushy, hateful, and obnoxious. Of all the people we have dealt with this morning, you have been the most unpleasant, and we aren’t interested in feeling bad today. Please leave.” He stepped toward me, and said, “Fine. I’ll just pay for these toys and go.”

“No, you won’t,” she said with a tone that has chilled the blood of innumerable 6-year-olds over the years. “Put them back. I don’t want to sell these to you. Just get off my property.” And he slunk away. Later, we sold the toys in question for less than Pushy Guy was offering. We still felt like we came out ahead.

Indeed, as the hours wore on and traffic remained steady, we went to discounting, and then lagniappe, and finally giving away some of the slower-moving stuff, which was fine — there’s a lot of need in Mondoville, and success for this activity wasn’t as much about making money (although we made a decent amount) as it was sending things — at least things to which we didn’t have a sentimental attachment — into the world away from us. We gave a few items of furniture to a couple of students of mine who are graduating this spring and will need to set up housekeeping this fall. Several other items went to folks from the college’s housekeeping staff. They paid yard-sale prices for what they wanted, but after a certain point, we made sure that they got throw-in stuff as well.

Finally, noon rolled around, and everyone else was gone, and Mrs. M and I looked at each other as I checked the fresh sunburn on my forearms. We glanced at the empty space in our garage that had once been full, and the relatively few items that remained, which we’re donating to a local church. “We did pretty well,” Mrs. M said. (In fact, when we counted up the total, we had made much more than we had expected to make, even selling at yard-sale discounts.)

“Yeah, we did.”

“And we didn’t lose anything we were really attached to.”

“Nope. And I’m glad you tossed that guy out.” I paused for a moment as I rolled a tool chest (not for sale) back into the garage for the final truckload of moving in the next couple of weeks. “Let’s never do this again.”

And she agreed.

About profmondo

Dad, husband, mostly free individual, medievalist, writer, and drummer. "Gladly wolde he lerne and gladly teche."
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4 Responses to In Which the Prof Suspects That Yard Sales Violate the 8th Amendment

  1. dave.s. says:

    We had our yard sale about four years ago, and were distressed by the bottom feeders and the amount of time it took. Never again! yes. The question now is, Salvation Army, or Goodwill?

  2. ricki says:

    Been there, done that. Did a few “yard sales” of donated stuff as fundraisers for a Youth Group. It is kind of amazing how pushy people and rude people can be. I’m glad Mrs. M. threw the rude guy out.

    (I would probably have looked at the early-comer guy, and gone, “Okay. $20 to come in early and look, and you don’t get to haggle over ANY prices” and seen if he went for it.)

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