It's that time of year again! No, not the gorgeous fall colors, the leaves floating gently in the fresh breeze, the crisp air. No, it's time again for the Fall Rummage Sale at my church! Ugh. I really don't like getting ready for this giant sale, but this time I have a new way to make it more fun. Instead of complaining about wheezing from all the dusty clothes and feeling like a grime-ball when I get home at night, I will concentrate on people watching. That will be way more fun.
On Thursday morning, the clothes will be stacked in neat piles, men's and women's and children's, carefully divided by size and type of item. Shoes will be lined up like tin soldiers underneath the clothes tables. Two long racks will be festooned with shirts, dresses, suits and coats, while smaller racks will be draped with hats, belts, ties and purses.
But that will be just the beginning. There will be two large tents filled with chairs, dressers, end tables, coffee tables, racks and occasional furniture of all types. A large room will be full of kitchen items, functional small appliances, dishes, pots and pans, hundreds of mugs, and collectibles of all kinds. We'll have another room just for Christmas and holiday items with lots of Halloween costumes. Shelves will hold books of all types, fiction, non-fiction, travel guides, self-help, cookbooks, as well as DVD's, old videos, music cassettes and even some LP's.
So when the heavy work is done, people are lined up at the door and finally the sale starts, I can relax and people watch! Then I can have my lesson in all the variations of humanity that exist in the world. There will be all the usual types: the clothes thrower who upends the neat piles, selects nothing and moves on; the neatnik who goes through every pile, carefully refolds each item and spends hours selecting or not selecting their items; the cruiser, who takes a brief look at everything, never stops, and sails out the door in 5 minutes; the talker, who really just comes to socialize.
I'll probably see the bargain hunter, who really knows what she's looking for, and may find a Kate Spade purse, or the ebay seller who also is pretty savvy about what will sell and for how much. I'll also see lots of people who need affordable clothes for work, school, or everyday and who will find some good values. Kids will beg for new toys and books. Wives will buy used jeans for their husbands who work in jobs like asphalt paving and throw the jeans away when they get covered in tar.
So in 30 years of rummage sales, this is what I have learned.
1. Nobody should ever buy a gift mug for anyone. No, seriously, NEVER. They will all end up at the rummage sale where they will not sell.
2. One man's trash is another man's treasure.
3. Lots of women buy very bizarre hats. Do they actually wear them?
4. Kids will beg for anything, and eventually they will get mom to buy them some basically useless toy that they will enjoy for about an hour after they get it home. At least it was cheap.
5. The best part of Rummage Week is the time I spend with friends, working for a good cause, eating lunch together, wondering what a particular item really is, and seeing if the ugliest hat in the room will sell.
So while I will enjoy watching all the people, chuckling to myself at their antics, I will observe and learn a little more about my fellow man and woman, and probably more about myself. As an old neighbor from my childhood used to say, "We're all crazy different". And I think that's a very good thing.
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