Come On Down

On Saturday we decided to have a garage sale. Actually, our understanding of this process corresponds better to the idea of a garage sale happening *to you,* like as soon as you cart your belongings out into the driveway, paint your address and the words 'garage' and 'sale' on a sign, lash said sign to a utility pole on the corner of your street, go back home, sit down and fold your hands in front of you, voila - you're in business.

Here's what happens if you do that, at least in our neighborhood:

Within minutes, a minivan carrying a small child and a Hispanic woman pulls up, and she hops out, browses your pants, chuckling politely at everything you say until you realize she doesn't really understand you, then buys two tank tops for a dollar each.

Your secondary sign, the dry-erase board leaning against the mailbox post, flies across the front yard on a gusty breeze, the same gale-force winds that earlier forced you to relocate the sale to inside the actual garage when the coat rack tipped over on the driveway. (Being a savvy entrepreneur, you brushed the leaves off the jackets and blazers immediately after righting the display, before any prospective customers could notice. Presentation is everything.)

A carload of elderly people clatters into your driveway, eyeballs the folding tables piled with t-shirts and khaki shorts, pauses momentarily, and throws their Oldsmobile into reverse before heading back up the street. It's bad enough when people don't want your stuff. It's even worse when they can tell they don't want it from twenty yards away, through a dusty windshield, with cataracts.

"Bring on the customers!" is proclaimed every few minutes by your wife.

Non-customer neighbors roll past, eyeing your meager wares out their car windows without slowing down, wondering who would have a garage sale in late October during a hurricane. Their back tire nearly grazes the dry erase board lying face down in the street. You look up briefly from your magazine and decide to leave it there.

Eventually, lunchtime rolls around and you both sigh, clamber up out of your folding chairs and head inside, taking a last look out at the disinterested world before muttering 'oh, well' and forlornly pushing the button to lower the garage door. You stuff the two dollars into your jeans pocket and spend it later on 99-cent Blizzards from Dairy Queen.

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