Al Batt: Worthless junk could be yours if price is right

Published 10:29 pm Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Tales From Exit 22 by Al Batt


I wonder if there are storage units for storage units?

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I spend great clumps of time behind the steering wheel. I’m not complaining, just stating a fact. It’s impossible to look very long through a windshield and not notice the plentiful storage units. Their abundance proves that we can never have enough things we don’t want.

I went off to college on a work-study program. I liked everything about that except the work and the study parts.

My second year, I moved from a dorm into an efficiency apartment in a condemned building. A sign posted on the front door proclaimed it unfit for human habitation. That was fine. We were college students, not humans.

It was there that I first met cockroaches. We had a lot in common with those insects. We kept the same hours and were willing to eat anything. The only difference was that the cockroaches had more money.

We had hopes and dreams. Maybe the cockroaches did, too. Just like the cockroaches, we didn’t have much for personal belongings. Clothes, shoes, books, an AM radio and some interesting green things growing in the refrigerator. We shared a kitchen and a bathroom with another apartment. We were in tall clover. Life was a bowl of cherries.

The apartment was lovely, but it needed something. A toaster. I bought a used toaster at a Salvation Army store. It was an ancient, dating back to the Pleistocene Epoch. I paid 50 cents for it. It was marked down from $1 because only one side worked. I figured it was still a good buy. It was a Sunbeam.

We never held a yard sale. We didn’t have a yard. That was a definite stumbling block. Besides, we’d have had to buy things to sell at a yard sale.

Then we moved to an unfurnished apartment. It didn’t even furnish cockroaches. We had to accumulate things. The day school ended and leases expired, we had a hippie Christmas. It was a festive time in which curbs became treasure troves of discarded items. We got our sofa that way. It came with 37 cents hidden behind its cushions. We traded it in later for a nicer sofa we’d found on the curb. We took a sofa and left a sofa.

We saw yard sales, but junk is much more appealing when it’s free.

I vowed never to go to a yard sale. That pledge was writ in water.

We go to yard sales to pick up things in case we ever have a yard sale.

I vowed never to have a yard sale. Many people have led rich, full lives without ever holding a yard sale.

We didn’t have anything that anyone would want because we didn’t want most of our stuff. Then someone, who seemed to be wise in an odd way, told me that no matter how wretched I might consider an item, there is someone who would be happy to have it.

We had a yard sale. We priced items the way airlines price their tickets. Absurdly.

The crowd began to gather two hours before the sale began. All is fair in love and yard sales. Maybe they were space aliens searching for intelligent life. They wanted me to roll out the antiques they could take to “The Antiques Road Show.”

I tried to convince them they needed to buy things they’d never need. I told them to buy quickly to limit any regrets they may one day have for not buying enough crap.

One guy argued for a better deal on that ancient Sunbeam toaster with only one working side. The other side was still good for cuddling bread.

“You want 50 cents for this?” he asked with a disdainful sneer.

“It’s a Sunbeam.”

“Would you take 25 cents?” he said.

“I can’t. It still carries a mortgage.”

He gave me a look that could only be described as the look.

That deal didn’t happen. I admire a man who decides he is only going to spend 25 cents a day and sticks to it.

I sold one item. A fellow bought a used plunger to give as a gift at his brother’s fourth wedding. OK, he didn’t buy it. I gave it to him with the suggestion that it’d make the perfect gift for a newly married couple.

I refused to lower prices.

After too much nonsensical dickering, I snapped and yelled, “That’s it! Nobody gets to buy anything!”

I was asked to leave my own yard sale.

By my wife.

Al Batt’s columns appear every Wednesday and Saturday.