Garage Sales

Despite my insistence that my wife bludgeon me with a velvet painting of a matador and feed my remains to our cat the next time I contemplated having a garage sale, here I sit enjoying the aroma of anti-freeze, pizza boxes, and all of the other delightful smells that only one’s garage can produce, on the second day of the Great Graves Garage Sale Spectacular.

Garage sales are a little ridiculous if you think about it.  As a society we spend untold millions trying to protect the sanctity of our homes from intrusion, and then we hold garage sales, where the entire point is to lure nosy strangers onto our property to rummage through our belongings.  I spend most of my time at garage sales fighting off my future-hoarder children from hauling the merchandise back into the house.  And let’s face it.  The stuff we put up for sale at these events is one “Thanks for coming” away from the city dump.  In fact, all it takes is the letter “b” to turn a “garage sale” into a “garbage sale.”  I mean, who really wants to purchase an entire box of used underwear?  Oh, never mind, I just got a dollar for those.

One thing I’ve noticed is that there are certain types of folks who inevitably attend garage sales, and what better way to show my open-mindedness and sensitivity than to categorize people.

The Early Bird

In this case, the bird is a vulture, or in East Texas, a “buzzard.” There is something very wrong with these people.  They are the ones who can’t wait for you to open your garage door at the ungodly hour of 7 AM and have apparently been sleeping on the lawn. This year, when I raised my door, they rushed in with ravenous glares before I’d even had time to open my box of used doorknobs.  They actually began opening bags and boxes that I hadn’t put out yet, helping me arrange them. It was as if they felt sorry for my having to get up so early-and they should.

The Lingerer

This is the garage sale shopper who apparently enjoys my company-because he or she won’t leave.  Yesterday a lady spent at least a full hour carefully examining every one of the 700,000 articles of girls’ clothing I had for sale, and she eventually purchased a single pair of socks for a dime.  She was here so long I’ll probably be able to claim her as a dependent on my next tax return.

The Money Changer

These people aren’t really there to shop. Instead, they apparently mistaken my Tupperware box of change for the Federal Reserve.  Yesterday, a woman purchased a grand total of two sippy cups and handed me a $100 bill.  She wasn’t too demanding about her change, though.  She just asked for 1 twenty, 5 tens, 2 fives, a roll of quarters, and the rest in shield pennies only.  You can imagine how relieved I was.

The Child Care Deflector

Warning! If you include toys of any kind in your garage sale, weary mothers with at least sixteen children each (one of which will apparently be working as a load tester for the Huggies corporation)  will use you for babysitting.   While she leisurely browses through a 50-gallon drum of old doorstops, this beleaguered mom’s army of children will violate every Hasbro safety guideline and make each toy in the garage sale even more worthless than it was before they arrived. The Child Care Deflector is oblivious to the destruction (or at least pretends to be), and she buys nothing, not even a single doorstop.

The Haggler

These are my favorites.  They are seasoned garage sale shoppers who like to imagine they are trading in the bazaars of Istanbul (if they even have bazaars there). They are able to bring down the exorbitant price of a dollar on a perfectly good (if gently used) toilet seat to a nickel.  They are fully aware that you might actually pay them to haul away this junk.

The Imposter

The Imposter blows her cover when she first pulls up in a vehicle that cost more than my house.   She is dressed in designer clothes and bejeweled like a Kardashian.  Why is she here rummaging through my wife’s old flip-flops?  Maybe she’s bored with Rodeo Drive and wants a taste of redneck fashion merchandising.  She’s a big spender, too.  Yesterday’s imposter bought two pair of flip-flops and a pair of SpongeBob sunglasses.

The Drive-by

The most frustrating but probably wisest of garage sale shoppers, the Drive-by never gets out of the car.  Instead she slows down just enough to determine that you have a garage full of landfill fodder that isn’t even worth the loose change you are asking for it.  She could at least play along.

The Announcer

The Announcer is almost always a man, usually wearing a white t-shirt that he outgrew in the 80’s, suspenders and camouflaged cargo shorts.  As he approaches, he bellows, “I’m lookin’ for machine guns and tools!”  He should know by looking at me that the only  two guns I own were gifts given to me by my dad who feels sorry for me (and I’m not exactly sure where they are), as were my precious few tools, most of which are still in their original packages.  The Announcer does buy the box of doorknobs.

The Last-Minute

This shopper catches you by surprise as you are sweeping the garage and boxing up what’s left. You haven’t had a shopper for an hour, and you’ve grown bored counting flies and contemplating your next trip to Walmart where you will blow everything you earned at the sale on ham and deodorant.  The Last-Minute always morphs into The Lingerer, so you sweat for another hour and earn a whole quarter on a NASCAR coffee cup.

Well, it’s almost noon, and the sale is winding down.  I have a lot of work ahead of me packing and cleaning, but I feel a strong sense of satisfaction at what I’ve accomplished. I’d better hurry, though.  I think I hear my wife coming with the velvet matador painting, and the cat looks hungry.


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