Saturday, April 03, 2010

The Rummage Sale

Confession time. I did something last weekend I’m not proud of. I got into an argument with a woman over four wooden hangers at a rummage sale.

Perhaps I should back up a bit. For the last six years, we’ve sent either one or both of our kids on the church mission trip. In order to help pay for this expense, our church holds an annual community rummage sale. Because our kids go and will benefit from the proceeds, the kids, my husband and I have to help out.

For the last six years, I’ve helped in one way or another. I’ve sorted clothes. I’ve baked dozens of cookies and worked the snack table. I’ve checked people out. Between y’all and me, I will admit that I Do Not Like The Rummage Sale. I don’t like how all the dusty things that have lived in people’s attics and basements-but now are in our church’s gymnasium-never fail to make me sick. I really don’t like sorting through other people’s donated items and discovering that they owned things I didn’t want to know about.

Example: Three years ago, my daughter found a uh, jock strap in the shape of a Flamingo. Her discovery of that, and the subsequent conversation we had about it was something I could have lived without. Really.

But I digress. Anyway, last weekend, I worked the snack table on Friday night and arrived back at church at 7:30 the following morning. The snack table wasn’t too busy, but the check out table was. So I volunteered to bag for a high school junior named Jen. I’ll admit it. Jen can add in her head way better than me. I had no problem letting her be in charge. She rang up sales, I bagged. Things were moving along.

Until the hanger lady came. She plopped four wooden hangers in front of Jen. She glared. And she pretty much told Jen that those hangers were not worth one dollar.

Philosophically, I get this. Of course people come to rummage sales for good deals. And, well, it never hurts to try and get a better deal. But people had been badgering poor Jen all morning. Some had even switched around price stickers. One lady swore up and down that her tricycle really had been priced at fifty cents.

By the time the hanger lady came, I had had enough. In my mind, those cedar hangers were very nice. They were certainly worth a quarter each. So as Jen was looking at hanger lady in wonder, I stepped in and said no. “They’re a dollar.”

She looked me over. “Fifty cents.”

To my right, I knew Jen was ready to give in. After all, there were lots of people behind hanger lady, and well, no one wants to pack up things that don’t sell. But perversely, I was tired of giving in. “No, they’re one dollar,” I said. Forcefully.
“Then I don’t want them.” And then she shoved those hangers at me.

Oh!! That really burned me up.

“Fine,” I said. “But just so you know, this church rummage sale is so these kids can go help people in Georgia.” Yes, I said Georgia like it was Uganda. No, it really wasn’t a fair thing to push the whole church aspect in the hanger lady’s face.

But for a split second, she looked a little worried. I started to get a little excited. I’m a huge wimp...but maybe, just maybe…she was a little afraid of me?

Maybe she was about to back down?

Uh, no. All she did was walk away, leaving me holding the hangers.

Yes, I lost the hanger sale. No, Jen was not impressed. But for a little bit, I felt triumphant.

There actually is a happy ending to my little episode. Hanger lady’s friend came back an hour later and bought those hangers. “They really were a good deal,” she explained. “Even at a quarter each.”

And the best news of all? After six years, my rummage sale days are now over. My daughter will be graduating next year, so this mission trip will be her last. Next year, some other Mom can bake cookies and argue. I plan to sleep in that day.
Of course, I have a sneaking suspicion there will be a tiny little part of me that will be sad about that.
Anyone else have a rummage sale story?

Shelley Galloway


Gillian Layne said...

For pity's sake. It isn't about making a deal. It's about rudeness, and how some people seem to think simple manners are beneath them.

Good for you! I would have bought those hangers at two dollars before I'd let her have them. :) And kudos to your daughter for participating in the mission trip.

Estella said...

I detest rummage sales! Most of it is other peoples garbage.

Megan Kelly said...

I feel your pain. My daughter is going on her second mission trip this year. She's a wonderful person. When the kids were in the lower grades, I'd just send in money rather than have them...sell things. gulp--I hate to even type that. I'm not a salesperson and I'm uncomfortable with promotion. (Yes, I work in a bookstore, but I have no problem encouraging people to buy books, just not mine.)

Good for you for standing up to her, Shelley. Like Gillian, I would have bought the hangers myself before letting her have them cheaper. At silent auctions for breast cancer research and the mission trip, coordinators reminded folks the event was for charity, not to get a bargain. Must be universal.

linda s said...

DD took me to a huge kids swap meet but as early birds as I hate crowds. I found a lovely new high chair and the woman said ten dollars. Surprised by how cheap it was, I looked for my daughter. So, the woman said five dollars. I couldn't believe her... I paid the ten. It was new... DD laughed and laughed and told my whole family.