The Art of the Deal

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Labor Day weekend, and we’ve decided to hold a hastily-prepared garage sale. The home renovation project has made us realize that it’s time for a purge – furniture, lamps, wall hangings, all have to go, along with the usual flotsam that simply accumulates in life’s dark corners.

For instance, the Total Gym that was used once and now lives in the purgatory that is the basement store room. I don’t care how much Kung-fu shit he knows, if I ever cross paths with Chuck Norris in a dark alley, he’ll be wearing that thing for a suppository. Unless, of course, I can con another unsuspecting sap into buying it from me.

It’s several hours before someone even gives the contraption a second look. So when I notice a guy fiddling with the hand grips, I pounce. These transactions, while hardly reaching the level of, say, a used car purchase, still require roughly the same amount of manure to close the deal.

“It works perfectly,” I tell him. “But I have a deviated septum and the sound of the cables aggravates the nerves in the surrounding tissue.”

He nods as if he’s actually heard of that happening before. “Do you have all the attachments?”

Here I’m making an assumption – when I bought it from the last guy (who no doubt did a little dance in his garage as I drove off) he handed over a box of pieces and parts that he claimed was everything Chuck and Christie required to keep themselves svelte. Now all I can do is gesture toward that box like one of the models showing off a prize package on The Price Is Right.

After poking through the assortment of hooks and pulleys that could just as easily have come from a torture chamber, the guy walks away with a dismissive grunt. Via con Dios, you flaccid bastard. Me and Chuck are gonna dance on your grave.

We sit a little longer. Eventually, someone buys a couple of hats, and then a digital camera is snapped up. Non-hagglers both – my favorite. They simply paid what we were asking. True re-salers would tell you that’s a sign the item was underpriced, that it’s all about the negotiation process. The thing is, I’m also a non-haggler by nature. But since this isn’t my first rodeo, I’ve learned to adapt to accommodate those who insist on getting a better price on a one dollar sweat shirt. Mostly it’s just a matter of slightly over-pricing everything so you have some wiggle-room when the would-be Donald Trumps try to put the screws to you.

In theory, anyway.

A young mother, dressed in designer gear (as is her five-year old, whom she allows to fondle everything within his reach), looks over the tables of old video games and last year’s kitchen gizmos with disdain. I peg her for a ‘no sale,’ a hoity-toity out doing a little slumming, but eventually she walks up clutching several Harry Potter movies in one of her perfectly-manicured hands. The movies are already marked at what seems a reasonably cheap three dollars each. Trying to be charitable, though, I offer a discount for her multi-purchase. “Since you’re buying four, you can have them for two bucks each – eight dollars altogether.” Apparently unhappy with such good fortune, she counters. “How about five dollars?”

I like to think of myself as a fairly generous individual, but some people just rub me the wrong way. And this woman, with her expensive attire and unruly child, looking for a double-dip discount, has crossed my threshold. Principles, however trivial, have been breached. You might as well wipe your ass with that five-spot, sister, for all the good it will do you now – at this point I would rather set fire to the Hogwarts chronicles than sell them to you. “How about fifteen?” I offer in return, sporting a cordial smile.

At the end of the day, we’ve managed to rid ourselves of some furnishings whose only crime was no longer matching the new décor, and amassed a grand total of $82.75. Minus 12 bucks for a pizza, which I eat while enjoying a Harry Potter marathon and reclining ever so leisurely on the padded seat of my Total Gym. See you in Hell, Chuck.


5 thoughts on “The Art of the Deal

  1. I always had such high hopes when I used to have garage sales. And, l guess they can be fun… for the first few hours. But usually the take at the end of the day really wasn’t worth the effort – unless, of course, you could off-load something like the Total Gym set. Too bad that guy didn’t buy it. I probably would have been tempted to offer him money just to make it go away.

  2. There are very few things I won’t sell for cheaper than cheap, but I have stood my ground on a few things. Meanwhile, I can’t give away some stuff. Very strange. Garage sales are very strange and the strange people behave strangely when they come. All the same, I hate holding on to anything I’m not using and enjoying. I’ll sell it all for pizza money.
    Also, Chuck funnies well done!

  3. I really don’t enjoy garage sales. When my mom moved, I was forced into helping with one, but that was it for that side of things. On the other hand, my mother was a garage sale fan, and I spent more than a few weekends toting her around. Good gosh. Still, at 80 or 85, getting out in the sunshine to browse other peoples’ stuff provides some social contact, some vitamin D, and some exercise, so there’s that.
    Me? I’ll get my amusement in other ways. I’ve been known to simply put stuff on the curb with a sign that says “FREE!!!” just to avoid the hassle of trying to sell it.

  4. Please, please, PLEASE tell me those were your exact words to that woman. Don’t toy with my emotions.

    Okay, now describe how she walked away in a huff and slammed the door to her Lexus GX. Do it slowly.

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