How does the old saying go? “One man’s junk is another man’s treasure”? That is the idea behind yard sales and thrift shops and all kind of stuff like that. Just because you don’t want something anymore or can’t use it, for whatever reason, doesn’t mean it isn’t of any value to “someone”. I don’t think I’ve ever come to realize that so profoundly as I have this weekend. Oh, I’ve had yard sales before and put used furniture up for sale and donated stuff I no longer need or want to various organizations. And I’ve even gone to yard sales hoping to find something I can repurpose and get some new use out of for a small amount of money. So, I totally understand the concept. It just really hit home for me yesterday in a big way.
Here’s the story:
I’ve been blogging about my upcoming move. Well, it is getting down to the wire, here, and I wanted to weed out the amount of stuff I have to pack and haul along with me. So, I planned a yard sale. I spent a few days going through some things to select what I’d like to offer up for sale. I didn’t have time (due to my own irresponsible procrastination) to really go through and put together a comprehensive selection, but it was a good dent and at least put the big stuff out there. I put an ad in the local paper and hoped for the best. The main idea was to reduce the amount of stuff I’m taking with me while also reducing what I end up throwing away (doing my part to save the environment, you know)……..a little extra pocket change was just icing on the cake, so whatever I got, I’d be happy.
I got up early Saturday morning (5:00 am) to finish organizing everything in preparation for the 7:00 am “head start” opening for Facebook friends and the 8:00 am general grand opening! It was soooooo cold — like, a little less than 40 degrees cold — and raining, no, make that POURING! But, I went on my merry way – changing the “yard” sale into a “garage” sale, hoping for the sun to come up with no rain and for it to get at least a tad warmer. No such luck……..the cold rain kept up until a little after 9:00! Yes, I got a few die-hard yard salers – a very few – and a couple of calls asking if I was still going to have it. But, attendance was disappointing, to say the least – even after the sun did come out and the rain stopped. The bad early morning weather discouraged most from venturing out. Between a few friends who came over for a “sneak peek” on Friday night and the few die-hards that came in the rain, I was able to reduce quite a bit and made about $120 in the process, but there was still a LOT left! So, I spent about an hour deciding what really should just go out to the road for bulk pick up and what I’d hang onto in hope that I can find them a home or just give in and take with me. I put a “for sale” photo album on Facebook and posted a plea to non-profits to see if any might want to come get some stuff for their thrift shops. And I dragged the junk I figured no one was going to go out of their way to come get out to the side of the road.
Then came the point of this story……I no more than finished struggling to drag stuff to the street and got back to the garage, when along came a pick up truck. The truck pulled up to the stuff I had set out and began to rummage through it. I thought, cool – glad it might not end up in the landfill!!! So, I walked down to the curb to talk to the gentleman looking for treasures. I joked to him that I wished he had come by just a few minutes ago and save me the trouble of dragging it to the street! He laughed! I had a lovely conversation with him while he gathered up anything with some form of metal in it or that he thought he might get some cash out of. He told me that he and his grandson go around every weekend looking for stuff he can gather and sell for scrap. He explained that he has been out of work for a long time and what little savings he had was all gone, so picking up what others have discarded and selling it for scrap is actually an income for him and helps pay for his very costly medicine. This really warmed my heart and, like I said earlier, brought new meaning to the old saying “One man’s junk is another man’s treasure” for me! I’ve known guys who do that sort of thing for extra cash or for the “sport” of it, but never actually met someone who depended on it for his livelihood. I was so very happy to have helped him out in some small way and really enjoyed our brief conversation. I thought about what else I might have in the “hang onto for now” stuff or that I may not have gotten to in my sorting, yet, that might be of use to him. But, couldn’t think of anything that would give him scrap metal.
And the story doesn’t end there — I put a few other things out there that I figured were probably unlikely that anyone would be interested in and I REALLY didn’t want to hang onto. I went to get some lunch and then took a much-needed nap. When I got up, I looked out and realized there was only a fraction of what I put out there still there! Someone came along and found value in much of what was discarded! YAY — that is a good thing!!!
And I learned one more thing from this………..if I have anything else that I decide will go out for bulk pick up, I won’t wait to put it out the night before pick up day (usually out of courtesy to the neighborhood by not having trash at the road any longer than necessary), I’ll put it out as soon as I identify it so that those who are out looking for treasures have time to find it and save it from going to the landfill.
The value I found in all this? A lesson I’ll never forget!