Saturday morning garage sales


The forecast called for rain and the air was cool and the skies overcast, but the rain didn’t fall.

The grass, brilliantly green against the gray skies, was wet, and puddles still lay on the asphalt when I ran to the curb, classified’s in one hand, and joined two others for a quick Saturday-morning round of garage-sale hunting.

Garage sale shopping is more fun with company. We were focusing on a rural community that had coordinated its sales, and the houses were spread out. Dirt and gravel driveways cut up steep hillsides, damp paper signs pointing with hot pink and orange arrows in the direction of sales. Children sat on front porches, still in pajamas, hair tousled as they watched us, questions mixed with sleep in their eyes. Dogs, tied to trees or sitting in kennels, watched equally curious.

And I learned the one aspect of garage sales I’d never known before: apparently it is customary to sell food at these events — like hot dogs and soft drinks and sloppy joes and sausage with cabbage, scents filling the air from heavy-duty crockpots that have to have been cooking all night.

I’m a picky garage sale shopper. I won’t buy it unless it’s absolutely minimally priced; if I’m going to take the trouble to drive all over sparsely populated countryside in search of your sale, it’s got to be worth while. A box of new but cheaply made glasses was on sale for $6; I bargained $5, and the older woman refused. It’s worth more than $6, she said.

I left the glasses. I didn’t really need them anyway, and yes, of course they’re worth more than $6, but that’s the whole point, right?

I’m a nervous bargainer, though, apologizing even as I mention a price I’d be willing to pay. I’m not sure why.

A number of the sales overpriced their paraphernalia, but it was early still. If you go early, sellers hope to sell higher to the  next shopper. If you go late, everything good is gone, there’s just costume wrestling belts and ancient videos left.

We wandered from one to another, and I never did buy anything; but that’s only have the point.

Mostly, it’s about looking, just in case, and comparing purchases, and planning the next route, and still laughing as you climb out of the car, while bored and sleepy homeowners watch you walk the length of their tables.

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