Garage Sale 3

She came back. The somewhat plain slim woman with small somewhat rectangular glasses. She had told her husband (in their truck) she had seen an item the previous stop at our sale. She asked if it had gone. We said Yes, sorry.

She commented on her mistake not to buy it earlier and I may have said something to the effect that her memory was accurate–it had been there.

Philosophical about the timing, she turned to go and, as she walked by me, sitting in the lawns chair, she touched me gently on my upper right arm.

Instinctively? Appreciatively (of my observation)? Gratuitously? Naturally (she’s a tactile person)? Connectingly?

Who can say? I think many of the people who go to these sales are drawn to them (sometimes making more than one trip) for the social reason of ‘connection’ which is expressed in many ways.

As we were closing down the last day, the lone old man who was lingering for about fifteen minutes was passing by us, having bought nothing. We wished him a good day and then he started talking, at great length as some of us ‘took down’, about himself and a recent memorable personal episode. I think a lot of people who frequent these sales are lonely and come looking to talk about themselves, their lives, perhaps even hoping to unburden themselves of their troubles and concerns.

And obviously as the shoppers browse remnants of your past, your interests and values (past and current), they get to see people and lives similar to and different from themselves and their own lives. Often they buy something they didn’t expect to buy–maybe a missing or alternate piece. Maybe they were reminded about something they once believed in, wanted, or had forgotten. A very complex and private subliminal process.

The viewing of the item. The handling of it, turning it over in their hands. You can see the desire and sometimes hunger (especially with pricier, attractive items). Kids are always direct about this–running  to their parents with an item (“Can I have this?”) or, inevitably unmonitored, trying out the precarious roller skates or high musician stool.

One foreign-looking couple wanted to buy a smiling bunny helium balloon for their somewhat overweight daughter. “Will you take a quarter?” (instead of the dollar price). I said, “Only if it will make someone very happy today,” and the girl beamed as did her parents.

The simple magical possibilities of garage sale moments of being. Right down to the gentle touch on a vendor’s arm or a child’s balloon dream come true.

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