Friday, April 22, 2016

Yard Sale Hell

Last Thursday the indignities of middle age and the wisdom of medical science required that I surrender my personal sovereignty for about an hour so a doctor could check for any nasty surprises lurking in my nether regions. Frankly, basic decorum and the unwritten internet rule about it being best that we all resist the urge to overshare far too much personal information forbids me from coming out and actually naming the procedure. But I will say that given what the good doctor did find, I'll have to go through the crap again in five years.

Just for shits and giggles, I will admit that the drugs they used to knock me out made me feel all warm and fuzzy as what for me passes as consciousness faded into short-term oblivion. That being said, what I am about to go through tomorrow morning is probably going to be far more a trying ordeal than the session of preventive maintenance I endured last week. See, very early tomorrow morning my wife will begin her seventh yard sale since we were married with me as her chief and only unpaid and totally under appreciated and overly abused flunky.

On the surface yard sales are simply affairs, you set up some picnic tables in your driveway, bring out all the assorted unused crap taking up space in your house, and then place that stuff on the tables and wait for all the local human scavengers to arrive and pick everything apart like hyenas do a dead zebra. However, that basic premise ignores certain elements to the yard sale equation. The first being that you have to decide what unused crap will be itemized and then sold. This is highly problematic for me since my wife tends to believe anything of mine is a top candidate to be priced and them offered up to the ravaging hordes looking for a bargain. Just this morning after returning home from work, I made sure my DVD collection had not been located and absconded. The worst part of seeing my wife rifle through my belongings is to get the impression that if kidneys could be sold on the open market she would somehow clandestinely get a blood sample so my spare organ could be typed and matched.

Once that is done, someone has to place an ad in some local paper to first attract the foragers. Here it is best to remember that while brevity being the soul of wit, it is also useful in placing expensive advertisements. It's best to state just the basics like time and location and let those searching for that huge bargain find you. But placing such a brief advertisement can also backfire when you see cars slowly drive by your house with the occupants silently appraising the items you carefully laid out while all the sane people were still in bed only to drive away without stopping.

The preliminary steps are over after several signs are made and placed at strategic locations along the roads leading to the house. Experience has taught my wife and I to place the signs out about two to three hours before the scheduled start. During our first yard sale back in 1996, I placed the signs out early Friday evening and had people knocking on the front door barely an hour later with others showing up until eleven o'clock that night. In fact, it didn't take many more yard sales before I noticed it was normal for a certain type of obnoxious person to show up at your front door the night before. Because education and proper hygiene are always suspected as a liberal conspiracies here in South Carolina, the early birds can often look like trailer park renegades on the verge of going Apocalyptic survivalist. Yeah, that's a mean statement but there is nothing like opening your front door around nine or ten o'clock at night and seeing a snaggletooth lady with yellow-tinted skin puffing on an extra-long cigarette asking if she and her friend can come inside to look at the stuff going on sale.

The next few steps all take place the day of the yard sale with all the items for sale laid out on the tables. My wife tries to organize similar items together but there is never enough table space. So you might have things like fragile Christmas decorations placed on top of a blanket laying on the ground. This seems to invite small children, who are always attracted to shiny objects, to ignore all the toys and go straight for the stuff that is highly breakable. For my wife, that is when she suddenly realizes the breakable item shouldn't have been included in the yard sale.

The worst part of an active yard sale is to realize something was left out that the homeowner or visitors might trip over. During one yard sale I left the water hose laying on the ground like a lazy python stretching from the facet next the backdoor to the center of the front yard. Of course, my wife almost tripped over the thing with her then yelling like a enraged banshee for me to roll up the damn hose. Since my mom-in-law already had me very busy carefully moving the heavy tables so they had a more appealing position, I had to break away from her to answer my loving spouse.

After rushing over to the decorative reel where the water hose should have already stored, I bent down on my knees to begin rolling it inside the container. Through some combination of being on my knees, reaching over to turn the handle, while using my other hand to guide the hose in, I threw out my back. Actually, the best description is that all the muscles in my back decided they had had enough of the bullshit and just seized up. For about ten seconds I was frozen in place unable to move, hell, even breathing during that time seemed optional.

I quite literally stayed that way until the slope of the front yard caused me to fall over. As you might expect both my wife and mom-in-law, long since worked up into a shark-like frenzy, yelled at me to get the hell off the ground and get back to work.

My yard sale experiences have taught me a little trick that I plan on using tomorrow. About the middle part of the sale, my wife will get bored and then ask me to watch the tables for what she will say is only ten to fifteen minutes leaving me alone outside. As soon as the next group arrives I plan on offering everything on a buy one item, get another item of equal value for free. It tends to clear things out rather fast, its one drawback though is that there isn't an inverse increase in the cash box, something my wife quickly notices.

The best solution for items that don't sell was inadvertently discovered at the last yard sale back in 2006. It was past noon and my wife, mom-in-law, and I were exhausted after spending all morning outside, which happened to be one of the hottest and humid days of that summer. As usual, we had a bunch of stuff left over with my wife again disappointed that she didn't make anywhere near the money expected.

A charity organization was supposed to drop by and pick up the leftover items, which we had positioned in a neat pile next the mailbox. A couple of hours later the guy driving the charity's truck knocked on our door asking where the stuff was he was supposed to pick up. We all went outside to look and it was then one of the neighbors dropped by to explain she had seen a car pull up with its occupants quickly jumping out and throwing everything inside the trunk before turning around and driving off. My wife and mom-in-law were incensed, while I couldn't help but laugh.

Mom-in-law isn't with us this time and yes, part of me is weighing the option of figuring out a way to leave all the crap alone for a few minutes while my wife is in the house. With any luck, those same people might show up again and save me a lot of hassle.


Pixel Peeper said...

It must be the season for yard sales. Two friends in the last week have mentioned having one. Have fun!

sage said...

You have described garage sale hell perfectly... having held garage sales in all corners of the country, you can be assured that your experience isn't just a southern thing--I've experienced it out west and with Yankees up north.

The Bug said...

"...shits and giggles..." Ha! My husband recently had the same procedure, with the same result :)

My mother LOVED yard sales! Thank goodness she never had one at her house (although she contributed items to other peoples' garage sales sometimes). I try to avoid them altogether. I already don't dust the stuff I have - no need to add more stuff to it!