Sarah Roush

In Ohio, we have a spring phenomenon that takes place as soon as the orange barrels begin blooming on the roadways and kids are released from school schedules. I am, of course, referring to garage sale season. A friend transplanted from Georgia once remarked he had never seen so many people ready to put their castaways on display. He’s not wrong.

I am of mixed emotions regarding these annual events. On one hand, I do love a good bargain, especially if it is an item that I want, but don’t wish to spend much money on. On the other hand, I sometimes feel a bit like a creepy voyeur poking through personal belongings while passing judgment on the cleanliness and condition of the offerings.

Normally, I would never consider participating in setting up a garage sale, but two things met head on in a perfect storm. First, I had a lot of items that Sparky has outgrown. Toys, clothes, chairs, etc. that were taking up valuable real estate in the garage. Second, mom was hosting the sale. She still had all those darn books from her attic to unload – for some reason, there is a shortage of people interested in 30-year old paperbacks. Mom actually had very few items to sell and was basically coordinating a book give-away.

The day of the sale started out promising. Clear skies and mild temperatures promised a great day for sales. We set up our merchandise on four card tables and proceeded to haul books out of her garage. We were lugging enormous banana boxes, most loaded with two layers of paperbacks down the entire length of her drive, when her neighbor Don came over. Don is either a sweetheart or he needs more excitement in his life. Possibly both. He helped us tow a total of four rows of books up her drive – a total of 43 cases with each probably weighing around 35-40 pounds. Don had loaded a small trailer with even more books. We had “FREE BOOKS” signs posted and wandered into the house to get some caffeine. I tried to keep Sparky from playing with all the toys that were for sale.

Customers soon showed up, speculating about all the books and picking up one or two. They were a great conversation piece, but, sadly, they weren’t flying off the property like we had hoped. Sparky found a copy of “The Happy Hooker” he refused to hand over, creating yet another topic of conversation. It was about 10 a.m. when the first raindrops started to fall. Within minutes, the rain was coming down in earnest. We scrambled to toss tarps over cases of books and pull others back into the garage. The rain created puddles on top of the covers and streams in the gutters. It just kept coming.

We were helpless to do anything other than watch.

Afterward, several boxes had to be discarded as the books were too damp to salvage. By then end of the weekend, we made less than $6 an hour and were exhausted and sore. Each of those dumb boxes had been moved at least four times, but mom is down to a mere 22 cases in her garage.

This week, she will be making phone calls to find someone interested in taking the leftovers. If not, I somehow see us making late night deliveries to drop off boxes for various charities like some sort of book fairies, desperate to share our wealth.

Despite the challenges, we laughed and had the opportunity to spend some time together. I also know, that next year, when the community garage sale rolls around, we will happily ignore the urge to participate.

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