Friday, March 15, 2013

The Yard Sale Jungle - And then a fight broke out...!

I think I had the experience of my lifetime last Sunday. There I was, innocently browsing away on craigslist (a sort of nationwide, online classifieds over here) and I came across a section entitled 'free'. "Well, I like free stuff", I said to myself. Eyeing the details it looked like a local lady was clearing out her basement and wanted to essentially spread the contents across her yard (think yard sale without the price tags) and let strangers come and pick it clean. Fair enough. I have to say, I wasn't entirely convinced that this was the real deal. Surely anything worth scrounging for would have been designated for some sort of sale on her part - people don't just give good stuff away for free after all.

Well, I was wrong. Although there was a bit of trash here and there to paw through, there was also a lot worth making the trip for. I got; 2 pairs of American Eagle jeans in great condition, 4 never been used solar powered garden lights, several books that took my fancy and a whole host of Aeropostale and American Eagle sweaters and summer tops... score! What a nice lady to essentially donate her old belongings to anyone who fancied a browse, rather than throwing it away or going through a full on yard sale process - faith in humanity restored, bless her.

However, the excitement did not end there. When my husband and I arrived (yes, I dragged him along for moral support and with the promise of a chicken biscuit at some point in his near future), we'd already been beaten there by a good 10 other people, despite it being early morning. "How fun!" I thought. Well I got chatting to a few nice couples who were more than willing to share the bounty as it emerged from the garage/basement one box at a time - really pleasant folks. And then there were the others. Circling the basement entrance like vultures, these lone few would strip the boxes and their contents from each other in a matter of seconds, at times dragging off the entire plastic containers and their mysterious contents, whilst uttering the words 'Mine... Mine...' under their breath. I am dead serious right now. "Okay", I thought to myself, "they're serious bargain hunters (slash hoarders, lets be honest), I can respect that, I'll just hang back and take a look at the leftovers" (I'm very passive aggressive shopper, don't you know).

It was then that the fight broke out. Two women, both with rigid faces and unbridled determination began to scream, over an empty black plastic box. One women had her hand on it so technically had already laid claim to it, yet the second woman was insistently shouting that that was a 'Bulls**t claim!' and didn't mean a thing. The cussing grew, as did the volume and the body language, whilst myself and the other folks in the yard slowly began to back away from the ridiculously volatile scene. That was the point when I called it a day at the 'free stuff, free for all'. As I pulled away in my car, who do I see but woman number two (who never had a finger on that box!) carrying it away with a smirk of victory. I guess she got what she wanted and managed to prove that if you cause enough of a stink and make it awkward enough, people will inevitably think you're bats**t crazy enough to let you win. Words to live by people.

Although I met some fab people who were really kind and really grateful for the giveaway, there were also a lot of people seeking something for nothing, not through need or appreciation of the gift of donation this lovely woman was giving us, but through sheer entitlement and at times, plain old 'I want it' fury. The sad part is, the woman who was giving away her belongings for free actually told us someone had offered to help her earlier that morning moving boxes and actually used the opportunity to steal from inside her house. Faith in humanity slightly reduced again. Gah.

Would I try my hand at a free for all like this again? Maybe. Although, I'd probably take some pepper spray along next time though to ward off the crazies... those plastic boxes are valuable, you know.

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