I knew there was more than one reason I haven’t had a garage sale for about 15 years. It’s not only because I get offended when people don’t buy the junk I don’t want or that my clothes labeled “FREE” are still in the driveway the next morning. It’s also because, after doing the math, I figure I made about 7 cents an hour preparing for the garage sale I had on Saturday. However, it occurred to me that I got rid of a LOT more stuff because I knew there was at least a slight chance we could make some extra money from it. If I were merely decluttering, I think I would have opted to keep some items that truly needed to be gone. So that was good. Overall, it was not a very great use of my time and my feet felt like I had spent the day walking around at Disneyland, without riding on anything. All this to say, it will be another 15 years before I even THINK about having another garage sale. I know I am doing a lot of whining. I will move on now to some surprising things I learned from this otherwise un-fun task.
One thing I learned, in hindsight, is that people (maybe just the one’s who come to garage sales…not sure) are lonely. I think I had longer conversations with a few “customers” than I had with my family members all weekend. One older man rode his bike here. He bought a toy monster truck that he said he was going to fix and turn into a remote control truck using his own special “skills”. He also bought a printer so he had to ride his bike home (he took the monster truck with him on his bike) and then come back with his car. Actually, it was a red jeep. I remember this because after he left he went to his red jeep, got in, then got OUT, and came over to tell me how he had been in a car accident and he totaled his other car and he just got this one with only 1.2 miles on it when he drove it off the lot and isn’t it pretty? I told him it was lovely and congratulated him. It didn’t seem like he had anyone else to tell this to. Then (and I will be careful here, in case he reads this blog somehow) there was another man. He was about 50 and he must have been here for 45 minutes. He just chattered away about all kinds of topics. Like his twin kittens (Harley and Davidson) and how he had met a “foxy” girl earlier in the week whose name also happened to be Heather. He almost left once to follow a cop car on a high-speed chase that went by my house (that really happened) But, alas, he decided to stay. He bought $13 worth of stuff, including my walker, 2 speakers, and a Barbie fishing pole. He paid and then all of a sudden he said, “Oh! What time is it?”. I told him it was 1:50. He said, “My bank closes at 2:00. I’ll be right back!”. I put his items on my front porch and he finally came back today. Two days later. My whole point is that he really seemed like he needed to visit with someone. Even if it was a total stranger. Our world moves so fast and usually (me included) we are so self-focused and over-scheduled that we forget that people, even our closest friends, might need an actual flesh and blood person to talk to. More than a text or an email. A real person.
The other thing I learned is that it doesn’t take much to make someone’s day. Seriously. I’ll tell you a few stories. The first opportunity came when a man bought a basketball. He also considered buying a toy electric guitar for his brother, who he was on the “outs” with and he thought it might be a good $3 peace-offering. He decided on just the basketball and as he left, he noticed a pottery vase I had for sale. It was 75 cents. He picked it up and reminisced about how he used to make his own pottery in school. I reached out, took the price tag off and said, ‘Well, today’s your lucky day.” He gave me a thank you and a big smile and said, “Ya know. I think you might be right.” About 10 minutes later he pulled up and said he decided to go ahead and get the guitar for his brother (maybe he “paid it forward”). Later, a mom came with her two young daughters. She asked if I would hold on to a frame, an air mattress, and some slippers while she ran to the ATM. When she returned, she said she would only be able to buy the frame because her son had apparently “borrowed” her debit card and had not returned it. I took her money for the frame and told her to just go ahead and take the mattress and the slippers. you would have thought I gave her a $100 by her reaction. She was overwhelmed with this VERY small gesture. There were a couple more, but I’ll just tell you this last one. A gramma came in with her grand-daughter. The little girl, whose name was Emma (just like my own daughter) REALLY wanted to buy this pink and purple furry suitcase that used to belong to my Emma. Gramma said “no”, reluctantly. When the little girl left the garage, Gramma said they’d been going through some difficult times lately. I told her to take any of the girl clothes she needed off the table and then we told HER Emma that she certainly needed MY Emma’s suitcase so it would have a good home with another Emma. She was elated and the grandma was near tears and thanked us over and over. None of this cost me much, except attention. It would have been easier to just straighten and read my book and drink my coffee and SIT in one spot (like my feet begged me to do). I am not trying to toot my own horn. I tell ya, my motives were initially to “just get rid of the crap so I didn’t have to haul it to Goodwill”. But ya know-I am grateful that God made my heart aware that I could either have a terrible day having a stupid garage sale, OR I could be a listening ear to people who are lonely or a giver to people who needed a little generosity and kindness thrown their way.
We all have this choice about everything we do, everyday. And seriously, there isn’t a lot we do each day that’s worse than having a garage sale. Am I right? (and you are hearing from a girl who just recovered from Leukemia-so obviously I exaggerate to make a point). So give it shot. It made an otherwise dull day a blessing to me and a few others who hit my garage sale last Saturday. Now, aren’t you sorry you missed it? Maybe in 15 more years, friends.