I want fifty cents.

Author oh, rebecca. Category

Though I used to troll garage/yard/estate sales with the rest of the weirdos, I'd forgotten how weird they could get. When you're shopping, browsing, your contact with the other shoppers is pretty limited. You might be eyeing the same strange little ceramic creature as another, both nervously hoping that the other won't pick it up. You might bump butts in cramped quarters bending over to look at kitchen doohickeys on a plastic shelf. But generally, it's a wham-bam-thank-you-ma'am affair, unless you happen to spend an inordinate amount of time at one garage sale. When you're behind the 'register,' however, your contact with strange strangers is neverending. Never. Ending.

Day one of Sharon's and my yard sale was a little slow, and not too harrowing as far as customers. It was a Friday and we belatedly realized that most people work Fridays and might not be out garage saling. We weren't expecting the barrage of crazies that hit us on day two, from the get-go. Thank goodness Sharon's brother Noah was there to help too!

Our first "customer" didn't actually buy anything. She was traversing the neighborhood as crazies tend to do, and happened upon our yard sale. I have the distinct pleasure of living just 6 or so houses off a fairly busy road, right by a few bus stops and businesses, so a lot of people come by during the day. (There is also a daycare center at the corner, so my favorite time of day is when the daycare employees and their wee charges come walking down the sidewalks like a mama duck and her many little ducklings. It's been known to give me cute attacks.) Customer #1 browsed a lot, and talked even more. She was obviously lonely, and probably didn't have many people to talk to, so we obliged, answering with the requisite "right!" or "mhmm" or even "that's what I hear!" and often even a full-fledged, legitimate sentence. She was almost back on her merry way down the rest of the street when she saw the 50c stuffed animals we'd piled in a plastic box, and regaled us with a half sob-story, half plea, about how she doesn't have kids because of "serious health problems" (never mind that she was in her sixties) but a lot of kids come over and she always has stuffed animals for them to play with and they always want to take them home so she gives them to them, and boy would she like to have some new ones for them but she is on a limited income....

I am sympathetic to those on a limited income because I am on a limited income, as is my mother, but the point of a yard sale is to exchange goods for a small amount of money. If I were truly a bleeding-heart liberal, I probably would have just given them to her, but I guess I am colder and more rotten than I give myself credit for, because I was really holding out for those two quarters to rub together. Perhaps this is why on those "political leanings" quizzes all over the internet, I come up as "fiscally conservative." I told her that we were going to be having this sale monthly and she should check back then for them and more stuffed animals, which prompted her to ask if maybe I would hold them for her till then. I'm going to reiterate myself and say again that yard sale = goods for money (small). Which means I want these things out of my possession. Now. For a small fee. If I wanted to give things away for free, expeditiously, they would have been at Salvation Army last year. But Sharon and I paid good money for those things, and we are obviously not expecting to recover our costs, since everything was at about a 95% discount of the orginal price, it would be good to get enough money to get a candy bar or a package of carrot seeds so we could eat in some way or another. I told the woman, very nicely, that if the stuffies were still there at the end of the day I would be more than willing to hold them for her, but implied that I would not be so much willing to stuff them away somewhere so I could make 50c next month instead of 50c today*.

After that woman, we had a drove of people. Two separate families came and milled about, and one family bought some things and left while the other family looked at everything and made piles of stuff, all while the doyenne of the family was making odd remarks about tarot cards and pennies in shoes. I was selling my modded PSX** with a few original games and a bunch of burned games and one of the kids in the family wanted to know how much some of the games were. He was about nine years old so I made sure to tell him and his mom that the burned games would ONLY work on a PSX with a mod chip - like the one I was selling. They looked at me blankly. So I repeated everything I'd said, no less than four times, before I finally just said "You can have the whole system and all the games for $5." Sold.

Sharon and I tallied everything up, essentially slashing prices in half because they were buying so much, and came to the grand total of $21.50, for the game system, a bunch of books, a bunch of household stuffs, and a whole bunch of other stuff I'm sure I completely forgot about: a whole box and a bag's worth of stuff. Pretty good deal. When she heard the total, though, the mom put on a great show.

"What are we going to put back, kids? Gonna have to put some stuff back..." even though they'd already carried it to the car. Sharon and I sat there, stone still. She rummaged in her pockets, muttering "hope I got enough money..." and pulled out a twenty. We sat there some more while she stood there, then rummaged again, pulling out a dollar and then walking away. Sharon and I stared at each other, whispering "Did she just punk us out of fifty cents?"

Oh yes she did.

On her way back to her car, she stopped, turned around and wandered back to Sharon, thrusting a dollar into her hands. Sharon, assuming that she was making good on the four bits she owed us, made change and was giving her four bits back as change when the woman said "Why are you giving me this?" Apparently she wanted to buy something else, priced at $3, and Sharon stuck firm on the price rather than slashing it in half like we'd been doing. So the woman dug out her money again and handed over the other $2. Strange. We looked at each other incredulously. She had money. We undercut everything she bought. What happened to our 50c?! Jerk.

I think my ire over the fittycent incident is taking over my brain right now and filling me again with rage and ire, so I'll have to continue with the yard sale tales another day.

Because it didn't end there.

Oh boy, did it not end there.

*Even though it is just 50c. I must sound ludicrous getting so uppity about 50c. But did you guys know 50c is one half of a dollar? And that dollars add up? And that I really like/need dollars? Do the math.
**Oh boy. This is a fun story. An ex of mine from another day and age, my pre-21 days, gave me his old PSX, for my birthday, with a bunch of crappy burned games that I wouldn't want to play (at the time, I didn't like dude games like I do now.) Why did I get a hand-me down birthday present, you ask? Was he destitute? Nope. He bought himself a brand-spanking new PS2, which had just come out. He bought himself a gift. For my birthday. Now you can probably see why I broke up with him.


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