Oh, I’ve given it my all. I’ve spent long hours weeding through old clothes, household goods and knick-knacks, painstakingly labeling them with little colorful price tags, filled with the hope of making hundreds of dollars. Last year when our homeowner’s association announced its annual garage sale, I was excited. I’m not going to lie: we needed the money!
The night before the big day, I stayed up till midnight preparing my tables and racks of clothes in the garage. At the crack of dawn the cars began rolling up, even though the newspaper ad clearly read “No Early Birds!” The die-hard deal seekers were there at 7 a.m. No worries; I was ready. With my hot-pink leopard-print fanny pack secured around my waist and a cup of hot coffee in my hand, I opened the garage door as if I were unveiling a masterpiece.
The assault began immediately. Within minutes I realized that my cute little price tags meant nothing. They were going to offer me a quarter for everything. From winter coats to crystal vases, I was unable to stick to my guns and ask for a fair price. I couldn’t say “no.” I was putty in their hands as I watched the wedding gifts we never used and party dresses from birthdays past disappear into pickup trucks and vans, never to be seen again, and all for a handful of quarters!
The cars continued to drive up, people swarming all over my goods. I felt like I was at a bazaar in Egypt. I heard so many dialects and languages, but one sentence was always painfully easy to understand: “Will you take a quarter?” Sitting on my little stool in the driveway, I felt defeated. Now I understand why my kids always ask me – never my husband for stuff. I’m a big fat pushover!
I felt my face getting sunburned – or maybe it was the humiliation. The temperature was climbing and I was thirsty and exhausted but tried to force a smile for all my customers. My kids decided to get in on the action. They dragged out a laundry basket full of toys and books. As customers approached, I watch in awe as they skillfully bartered and negotiated.
They ended up making a killing. “What the heck?!” As they counted and re-counted their money, I took a peek into my fanny pack. All I saw were a bunch of quarters. Within an hour they had sold everything, and the laundry basket sat there empty on the driveway. They ran back into the house, giddily splitting up their loot.
A woman walked up to me and pointed to the laundry basket. “Will you take a quarter?” The word “no” finally made its way out of my mouth. “It’s not for sale,” I added, feeling like I needed to give her an explanation for refusing her offer. I am truly pathetic.
So when our homeowners association announced its annual garage sale this year, I quickly declined. As I write this column I’m watching the parade of cars circling through our court and happy to be spectator this year. I admit it: I’m a failure at garage sales.
But you should see my impressive collection of quarters.