I love garage sales.
My heart always thumps excitedly as I approach one and my mind starts to race on what treasures I might find.
Last weekend was the base wide garage sale. It meant that a lot of houses were having sales and I was thrilled. I had planned to only go to the ones around the house so that I could walk. I mean, shopping and exercise? What can be better than that? Dr. Phil would be so proud of me! He’s always talking about trying to get exercise in when you can because this nation is going through an obesity epidemic and blah blah blah.....
I put Natalie in her stroller and reminded Tommy to stay beside me as we walked. We headed for the first garage sale and I nearly had a heart attack when a kid leaped out from behind a bookshelf.
“HI!” he shrieked.
I swallowed back my scream as the kid’s mother chastised him before going back to her magazine with Jon and Kate on the cover.
Then her kid decided that he’d be my personal shopper and kept handing me stuff.
“You can buy these. They’re my old shoes,” he said, shoving a pair of disgusting looking shoes in my arms. Seriously, they were caked in mud and the price tag said $6. Six bucks for disgusting shoes? I think not. I politely set them back down as the kid handed me a book on pottery.
I don’t do pottery.
Actually, upon gazing around the garage sale I realized that there was nothing there that I liked. It was basically a bunch of old stuff that looked as though it should really be tossed in the trash. I mean, I flipped through a book on royalty and a few pages were missing.
“Buy this!” the kid demanded and waved a toy that emitted high pitched music noises when you pressed a button.
No way. For my sanity, no way.
I was wondering if the kid’s Mom was going to tell her kid to leave me alone. I was two seconds away from telling him myself. But the Mom kept flipping through a magazine. I suppose the lives of Jon and Kate are fascinating to some.
I left a few minutes later. The kid was practically throwing stuff at me as I quickly walked away.
“But you didn’t buy anything!” he was yelling. Then he noticed another customer approaching and leaped in front of her.
“HI! BUY THESE!” he shrieked shoving stained socks in her face as she yelped.
I headed for the next sale and hoped that I’d find something of interest. There was a guy sitting on a lawn chair and he just stared as I started browsing. It was making me a little uncomfortable, to be honest. I hate looking at a yard sale when no one else is around. The guy continued to watch me as though he were worried I’d steal something.
But there was nothing to steal.
It was all crap again. There were old looking clothes and a few broken toys and a TV that I can almost bet didn’t even work.
I was starting to get frustrated. Where was all the good stuff? I came upon another sale and from a distance it looked as though it could be promising. There were a bunch of colorful objects scattered around and surely colorful objects meant good things, right?
The colorful objects were all falling apart.
And there was this big black thing that I think went to a car but I’m not sure.
I was starting to get tired and I was tempted to turn around and head home. Obviously no one was selling anything good. But then I noticed there was a sale a few houses down that had a bunch of cars parked around it.
Crowds have to mean good stuff!
I quickened my pace and rushed over there. I always start to panic that someone will buy the one thing I want right before I get there.
By the time I made it to the sale I was gasping for breath. As I was leaning over trying to breathe properly, I noticed a large sign in front of the yard.
All proceeds go to breast cancer research!
Wonderful! I can shop and do a good deed all in one.
“Dora!” Natalie suddenly said from the stroller. She pointed to a box full of toys. Upon closer inspection, I noticed the Dora she was talking about.
It looked diseased.
I’m not kidding.
The hair was discolored and the nose looked like it was about to come off and I didn’t want to even THINK about how many germs were crawling around on it.
“DORA!” Natalie said again.
I started to think.
Well, I can get the diseased Dora since it’s for a good cause and all…but ew, what if Natalie gets sick? There’s some STAIN on Dora’s ear that’s brown and…oh my God, I don’t even want to KNOW what it is…
“Darling, how about we find something else?” I asked brightly, wheeling the stroller to the other side of the sale.
“DORA!” Natalie practically leaped out of her stroller. I caught her just in time.
“Let’s find another Dora toy,” I said quickly. “Tommy, could you help us find another Dora toy?”
Tommy waved a puzzle of the United States under my nose. “Only if I can get this.”
Oh for---punks! I have punks as children! But at least it was a puzzle and it was educational…I mean, grown adults don’t even know where Montana is and my kid will after he puts the puzzle together.
“Fine,” I said as Natalie started flailing. I was really hoping she wasn’t going to knee me in the gut again.
“Found a Dora book!” Tommy called out, pulling a book from a box.
“Dora!” Natalie said sweetly, holding her arms out.
And bonus, the book was only fifty cents.
My total came to $1.50 but I gave the woman a $5 since the money went to a good cause. Plus I felt that if I didn’t give more than God would certainly smite me or something. And I can’t afford to be smitted since I’m doing this parenting thing on my own at the moment.
We went to sale after sale. Sweat was starting to drip off my brow and one lady offered me some water. I think she was worried I was going to pass out on her lawn and then she’d have to cover me up with a blanket and pretend there wasn’t a comatose woman on her yard.
I kept hoping to find something exciting but I never did. I did see some good things but they were overpriced. I always assumed garage sales meant that people wanted to get RID of stuff. But when I found some Gymboree shoes the woman wanted $10 for them and they were quite worn.
When I went to my final yard sale I figured I could try bartering. Women are always bartering on The Today Show and saying that more people ought to do it to save some money in this troubling economy.
The problem is, I’m awful at bartering. I think I’m too polite. I always worry about insulting someone.
Still, I figured I could give it a try. What’s the harm in asking?
I found a Blue’s Clues toy and I asked how much it was.
“Five bucks,” the woman said.
Five BUCKS? For a USED toy that was only a little bigger than my hand? No way.
Amber. It’s time to barter. Just speak smoothly and pretend like your barter every day.
I lifted my chin up and tried to look all regal. Because for some reason, I had it in my mind that people who barter look regal.
“I’ll give you three dollars for it,” I said in what I hoped was a firm voice.
The woman looked taken aback.
“If that’s okay,” I quickly added because she looked as though she were about to slap me or something.
See, like I said, I’m too polite for bartering. I bet the professional barters would have remained regal and would have had a stare down with the woman and said something like, “If I can’t get this toy for three dollars than I’m moving on…”
“I can go down to four bucks,” the woman finally said.
“Fine,” I replied meekly and handed over some bills.
I wish I had a professional barterer as a friend. I’d have brought her with me. SHE probably would have gotten the toy for three bucks. Maybe even two because she’d be so good at what she does.
I think I need to add that to my list of Stuff I Need To Do Before I Die.
Find a friend that is a good barterer....