By August 28, 2012 8 Comments Read More →

The Garage Sale


24 June 2012

Plano, Texas

First guys are a couple of cousins from Missouri.  The older one, a grizzly, gap-toothed bearded guy with a beer belly bulging from a wife-beater, wearing a trucker cap, told me he moved down here from Columbus after his boss refused to pay for an injury that prevented him from working – a five inch clean cut on his elbow – and now he’s working for his uncle to get back on his feet.  They’re picking up Bryan’s queen size bed set for his new room.  They leave to rent a truck to move the mattress and I decide they’re probably not going to rape me while I’m here alone on a quiet Sunday morning with all the neighbors at church, and I wordlessly acknowledge the paranoia and fear my mother instilled in me.

The Missouri guys end up taking a TV (and dropping it on the way to the truck) and a couple of pairs of size 10 sneakers, too.

Total: $165.

A woman on the way to church calls for the dog crate.  She asks if anyone else is interested in it, and I tell her she’s the first inquiry.  I wonder what the rush on dog crates her question implies is about.  Are half price dog crates that rare to come by in the pet world?  Is she feeling out the potential to bargain me down?  She’ll come by after church, she says.

A dark SUV pulls up.  A woman who looks pretty much like the last one rolls down her window and says, ‘I assume you know about the missing person?’

‘No,’ I say.

She begins to get out to hand me a flyer, so I walk over.  She and a tall guy with a foreign accent I can’t place (doesn’t help that half his words are drowned out by ambient suburban noise) give me a run down of the information on the flyer.  I tape it to the garage wall, above the $30 (each) golf bags (which, by the way, Missouri Chris had been interested in briefly when he thought they contained golf clubs).

The missing person is a woman in her late 40s, apparently disoriented and lost somewhere in the back alleys of the subdivision, they think.  She’s been missing since Friday.

A guy calls for the orange cabinet Jolene gave us.  I’d intended to keep it, but it nevertheless became a casualty in the drive to pare down for the move.

A woman texts about the coffee table and sounds committed to buying it.  She informs me that she’s coming from Highland Park in a black Mercedes SUV.  I decide she’s probably not bragging, because coming for a $20 IKEA coffee table is nothing to brag about, even in a black Mercedes SUV from Highland Park.

Tim, the guy who called about the orange cabinet, and his Asian wife (I have to smile when I see her) arrive and realize the cabinet is too small for their backyard purposes of potting soil and dog food storage.  I’ve been taking my pictures at low angles and forgetting to include dimensions in the ads.  Ah, well.  I’m happy enough they’re not mad about it.

An Asian couple stops by and browses.  The wife asks if we have art.  They buy Brad’s 41 toy soldiers and a basket from his mom’s house.

Total: $1

A text arrives about the dog crate.  I explain that it’s reserved at least until after church and try not to feel too Mayberry.

Lost customers call for directions.  Up drives a family with a beautiful little toddler with strawberry blonde hair.  They have another one on the way and are looking for a toddler’s dresser.  They consider the orange cabinets and say they’ll come back.

Solo older woman who buys nothing.

The black Mercedes arrives for the coffee table.  A young blonde woman in sandals and a blazer hops out, thrusts $20 at me and hurries off to rearrange her seats for the table.  I help her load it, and she smiles, thanks me and drives off.

A young family with a little boy approaches and leaves with nothing, but they browse the swimming gear.  The boy is learning to swim and wants the snorkel but not the goggles.  The dad, his left leg covered in tattoos, chuckles at the Dear God plates my mom bought at some 99 cent store.

My mom isn’t back from her retreat yet, so I’m still alone.  I start piling more things into the free box and seriously contemplate changing the Craigslist posting to advertise ‘Last 4 hours of our garage sale permit ever!  Come take anything for a dollar!’  An older man rolls by on a bike and briefly stops to ask if we have bike stuff.  We sold two bikes early on in the garage sale, so I offer my regrets.  He smiles and pedals off down the alley.  A minute later, he pedals by in the opposite direction.

The people finally come for the crate.  They’ve just adopted an Irish wolf hound-sheltie mix who was found skin and bones.

Total: $45

My mom comes home.  She’s disappointed the bed is gone – she’d decided to keep it.  Beyond that, she’s full of directives about what to sell and what not to.  Two and a half more hours left.  At least she’s not yelling about the bed.  Just back from a Buddhist meditation retreat and she’d better not yell.

Absolutely no one comes by.  For the rest of the day.  It is Sunday, and three weekends of garage sales are done.

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  • Very interesting. What a great memory you have if this isn’t fiction? 🙂 We too use Craigslist for our garage sales.

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  • Enjoyed reading this. I just had a yard sale and what a great idea it would have been to write about all the interesting characters who came by my house/garage sale. Back in DC I had a couple of garage sales and to this day I still think about a few people who stopped by and argued over a .25 cent glass I was selling. I ended up giving it to them…haha 🙂

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  • Anya Pham

    We’d done three weekends of garage sales, and on the very last day, I was left to run it all by myself because my boyfriend had something else to do that day, so I had a lot of time to think about how paranoid my mom had taught me to be, even in our safe suburban neighborhood. But we did get interesting people -- especially the cousins from Missouri. 🙂 Thanks for the feedback!

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  • Loved this Ann, this was brilliant, all those characters and great humour throughout. Some great lines, especially “Just back from a Buddhist meditation retreat and she’d better not yell.” A definite episode, great.

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  • Anya Pham

    Hee hee, thanks Garry. She did end up yelling the next day. A lot. But I confronted a lot of the paranoia she raised me to survive suburbia with.

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  • Hi Anya! This was so cool to read 🙂 I can recall a red button and a hidden door somewhere in the garage too…hehe. Your dad was pretty suspicious about the button haha.

    I never organized or attended a garage sale. For some reason I keep thinking it’s typical American? Not sure though.

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    • Anya Pham

      We grew up both having and going to garage sales. Maybe it’s a regional thing -- I’ve spent a majority of my life up and down the middle of the country. But yeah, I think of it as a quintessentially suburban thing. And Plano is nothing if not quintessentially suburban. 🙂

      I’m totally going to push that red button before we move. Right before we move. 🙂

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  • Ohhhh!! Do report back if something happens 😀

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