We Had a Yard Sale Once: An Assumption Story

I’m writing from a different location this morning. Not just a different house, but a different location inside the house. I usually sit at the breakfast counter and write this piece, but I can’t see the TV from the breakfast counter in this house, which means that I can’t watch morning coverage of The Open. So, I moved this morning’s writing session to my recliner in front of the TV.

We’re in the new house. We’re not settled, but we’re in. I still don’t know what all of the switches on the wall work, but that will come in time. You want to know how many mindless routines you have in your life? Move your forks and spoons to a new drawer.

As we unpacked, we began placing things that we no longer needed in the garage. Yes, we paid someone – 5 someones, actually – to move items that we no longer needed. That sounds insane but, if you give me the choice of going to the beach the week before moving day or staying home and going through stuff, I will pick the beach every time. Unapologetically.

So, yesterday, we had this nice pile of gently used clothing and household goods in the garage – on the side where my car will eventually be parked – and we were trying to decide what to do with it.

“It’s enough for a yard sale,” Leah observed.

“Let’s call the Exchange Club,” I responded.

We had a yard sale a few years ago at our other house. The prize of the yard sale was a 32″ tube tv that weighed about 100 pounds. If you’re my age, you know that the weight on TVs of that size was all on the screen side. The big plastic housing on the back was just for protection and ventilation, and allowed you to fill up space in the big ol’ TV cabinet that you bought.

So we had one of these monstrosities, with the remote, priced at “make an offer.” People don’t like “make an offer”, even though I would have taken $2 for it. They kept asking me, “how much for the TV?”

“Make me an offer,” I would respond, and they moved on to rummage through Jack’s Bob the Builder toys.

So, I changed the price to $3. Three dollars for a 32″ TV. Guys, we live in a time of plenty.

After an hour of so, a gentleman started looking at the TV. He was Hispanic and, though it was unplugged and sitting on the driveway, he was inspecting the TV pretty hard.

“It works,” I offered – and everyone who knows me outside of this blog knows how uncomfortable it made me to say those two words to a perfect stranger. Leah can sell ice to eskimos, I just like to nod and wave.

He just looked at me and went back to the TV.

He may not understand me, I assumed. This was back before the State of Alabama – jails overcrowded already – threatened to throw every non-citizen without a work visa in prison. We had Hispanics of every sort, and you could actually get work done,  good work, for a fair price. Now if you ask someone to paint a wall or repair a hole in your sheetrock, you better be prepared to pay their mortgage for a month – and maybe two months – and you’ll probably not be happy with the work. Instead of threatening to throw people in jail, states like Kentucky and Ohio offered jobs in their manufacturing sectors and assistance obtaining visas. Good people who were good workers fled Alabama overnight. But I digress.

He may not understand me, I thought, so I did what every boneheaded person does, I said it louder.

“IT WORKS, but all the weight is on the front with the screen.”

This time he didn’t even look at me. He just kept looking at the TV and the remote, and touching the TV casing.

I decided, like every boneheaded person, to speak louder and remove as many words as possible and still get my sales pitch across. This was before Twitter. I was trend setting.


And, for reasons I still don’t understand, I repeated “HEAVY ON FRONT.”

So, here I am, in the uncomfortable situation of talking to a complete strange in the uncomfortable situation of a yard sale, in loud, broken English, trying to convince him to buy this 32″ television for as close to $3 as I could get. I think that I was stuck on stupid, because, as he looked up at me, I repeated again, “HEAVY ON FRONT.” I even reached down and patted the screen with my own hand. Right there, that’s where it’s heavy.

He looked me straight in the eye and, in English better than I was using at the time and, perhaps, better than I use ever, said purely and with no hint of an accent, “Yes, I know.”

I honestly can’t recall if he bought the TV. I think he passed, and I ended up taking the TV to the landfill.

That’s a story that my friend Jim will enjoy. He’s always enjoyed stories of awkward social interactions.

Anyway, as I sit in my recliner and type out this story while watching The Open, there is a truck load of clothes and household items sitting on our front porch awaiting pickup later this morning by the Exchange Club. I count not having a yard sale as a small victory.

I hope you win the weekend! Have a great day!

2 thoughts on “We Had a Yard Sale Once: An Assumption Story”

  1. Cracking up at this one – totally out of your comfort zone. We too had a problem divesting ourselves of a large tube t.v. w/ DVD and VCR built in. Rejected by Hannah Home and the thrift store.

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