A few observations on garage sales

1) People stake them out ahead of time. We had repeated drive bys the night before and in the early morning hours just after sunset. Nothing was out on display. So it begs a question: Exactly what kind of intel could possibly be acquired from this sort of surveillance?

2) No matter how ridiculously rock-bottom the prices, they still weren’t low enough for some. Some people had absolutely no shame asking to cut a deal, despite the obviously ridiculous deal they were already getting.

3) I was a rather indifferent sales clerk. I didn’t really care to mind the store. People could’ve walked away, huffing and puffing, back straining, with armfuls of bric-a-brac. I wouldn’t have noticed. Yet people were honest, more or less, although there was that one old lady.

4) There’s a rhythm to garage sales: A deluge in the morning hours, a lull as the sun peaks, and a rush hear the end. The reason seems obvious to me now: People want to get there early before all “the good stuff” is gone, and they also know you’re going to drop your prices near the end to get rid of everything else.

5) And they also know there will be a final purge, where you pile up all the unwanted by the curb along with a hand-written sign that says “Free.” It’s there now; I’m staring right at it. We had at least half a dozen visitors last night, like raccoons rifling through the trash for leftovers.

But it’s good to travel light, good to get rid of the glut. It still means a mountain of duffel bags and, of course, the Dog of Destiny, but better, much better, than packing up the entire house and taking it all with us.

Ridding ourselves of our worldly possessions, again

The scavengers picked the carrion of our worldly possessions this past weekend. We had already hocked most of our furniture. Dahlia’s colleagues proved a ravenous bunch. They swooped in and carried away most of it within a matter of hours. My favorite: The full-size Weber gas grill we sold with two propane tanks for $40. One of the tanks was still full. Hell of a deal, but then, we priced it all to sell quickly.

The garage sale was more of the same— a sort of “cabinet of curiosities”, the flotsam and jetsam of our two odd years living back in the land consumer glut(tony).  It’s amazing, really, all that we managed to pack into our closets and drawers and cabinets, and all the other forgotten places. All of it we thought we wanted or needed. So easy to do, living here, where owning things is a national fetish, proudly on display, no sense of shame or embarrassment, and no fear of judgment from thy neighbor (at least on that score).

But I was talking about garage sales, and my wife and I ridding ourselves of the detritus of our consumer lives. We did the same eight years ago . when we first moved overseas, but we had an apartment then and owned a lot less. It’s liberating, downsizing, being no longer weighted down by the consideration of soulless, lifeless junk, most of which just ends up in a landfill somewhere eventually or settling on the ocean floor.

There are keepsakes, things to stow away—things that come with a story, with emotions and memories attached. I’m not above hoarding such sentimental things—a Tibetan-style nightstand we had handmade in Nepal, a mirror from a vanity which belonged to Dahlia’s grandmother, an old railroad conductor’s pocket watch given to my great-great grandfather. These are the things worth saving. The hell with all the rest.