Late spring and early summer yoke rain to heat waves, make flowers bloom, herald May-December romances, and unveil new, and frequently bad, tattoos to the world. (Take the pregnant woman with ‘Born to Lose' stenciled on her neck — an aphorism of inspiration for the unborn.) They also mean garage sales.
Garage sales are a great way to dispense with the unwanted past, learn economic basics, and meet opinionated people searching for atypical objects. One disgusted woman offered a bit of garage-sale etiquette, arguing that our price stickers demonstrated an unwillingness to negotiate. And if we weren't willing to negotiate, we were communists who shouldn't have a garage sale. She left with a few pieces of costume jewelry for $4, possibly with the intention of dressing up as cold warrior Margaret Thatcher.
Another woman, who stocked up on cooler bags at $1 apiece, bemoaned her inability to shop in stores, because the government tracks one's purchases; once, she bought something online, and her taxes went up that year. Now she shops only at garage sales.
One man said home ownership is a privilege, adding that it isn't a crime to sleep in the street if you can't afford a house. He considered purchasing an unviewed copy of Ocean's Thirteen but decided against it, instead laying down $2 for a Phillies shirt.
A woman showed up wearing sweatpants still bearing the $7 sticker from our neighbor's garage sale — a true emergency purchase. She weighed buying Bill Clinton's My Life at the presidential discount price of $2. A gentleman spotted the tome in her hands and vociferously suggested that Clinton is responsible for the economic meltdown because he repealed the Glass-Steagall Act. He left in a huff, complaining that we had "utter gall" to try to profit from Clinton's treason. I would like to have him impeached for obstruction of purchase.
Although you might see their old campaign buttons, you rarely see politicians at garage sales. That is a shame, because they are an opportunity to engage constituents and gauge what their policies have wrought. President Obama could have picked up Clinton's book on the cheap, and I'd have thrown in Ocean's Thirteen for nothing —though he's probably seen it given his lucrative friendship with George Clooney.
As the day progressed, sales slackened. We reduced the remaining merchandise from $5 to $1, then to FREE, and finally to FREE-plus-we'll-carry-it-to-your-car. Ultimately, the least wanted goods, including Clinton's book and Ocean's Thirteen, were packed up and donated.
We're not planning any vacations with the profits. But we met some interesting people and even made a few of them happy.
Paul F. Bradley lives in Bucks County. He can be reached at email@example.com.