This post is going to be a little different from many of my posts. I was going to just write these thoughts and ramblings down in my journal, but I thought some of you may be dealing with this stuff, too. So, if you are not in the mood for anything philosophical today, you can stop here and I won’t be offended.
Some of you know that we had our garage sale a week ago. last Friday and Saturday. My goal was to sell all my teaching stuff and make some money in the process so that I could get my porch fixed. It either needs to be mud-jacked up about 3 or 4 inches, or I will put a new wooden porch on top of it. Either way, the current posts do not reach the roof by a long shot. So, it needs to be fixed. AND, it needs to be painted. This has been a problem for about a year now, since the drought of last summer. Our insurance will not cover it. I figure the minimum it will cost to fix is $500.
I have made my peace with the fact that I will not be going back to teaching in the public school system. Too many sad things have happened to me in the past 10 years for me to even want to go back. Deep inside, I believe (or maybe I just want to believe) that things happen for a reason and that there is a life plan for each of us. I figured the sad things happened to push me out of education. Now, that’s not to say that I won’t be teaching in another field, because I feel like I am teaching people right here on my blog. I just will not be going back to teaching elementary education. I miss the kids tremendously, but not all the garbage that went with the job, and not the hours and hours of work and stress that went with it either.
So, there I was last week, scrambling to get everything ready for the garage sale; sorting, pricing, bagging, lifting, toting, etc. etc. I’d been having dreams that I wasn’t ready for the school year, dreams that would wake me up in a panic, thinking I needed to get my act together. As soon as I decided to have the garage sale and get rid of my teaching stuff, those panic-stricken dreams stopped. Thursday, the last day before the garage sale, I was supposed to do the final marking on the teacher stuff and then move on to the other “junk” that we had decided to throw into the sale. That’s when I came down with a migraine and could not function. Of course! This is what I suffered when I taught, so why not have one when I am dealing with the stuff that used to bring that pain to me? My husband assured me that I would be able to price stuff during the sale… not to worry.
I had put an ad in the newspaper and online, to be included with their map of sales. I also posted pictures of some of the teaching stuff, and presented it as a sale for teachers. I contacted several local school districts to let them know that I was having this sale just in time for the new school year. And, this is how the garage sale went down…
First off, I was dragging stuff out to the driveway Friday morning, an hour before we were supposed to start. People started showing up and asking how much stuff cost – NONE of the teaching stuff. I mentally was not ready for it and was still fighting a migraine, so I was giving them really low prices. I just wanted to get rid of it and not have to haul the “junk” (which does not include the teaching stuff) to ReStore or the thrift store.
Let me tell you, these garage salers are brutal! They haggle over everything. I had 4 really good lawn chairs out there that are comfy. There was a crack in the arms of 2 of those chairs. Otherwise, there was nothing wrong with them other than they were taking up space in our basement. Our garage is too small for a lot of our gardening type stuff, so those chairs were in the basement n a place that was not convenient to get to in order to use them. Anyhow, when asked how much the chairs were, I wasn’t thinking and I told the lady they were 50 cents each. She then proceeded to point out that there were cracks in the arms of 2 of the chairs. I told her in a voice that said <What do you expect? That’s why they are so cheap.>, “They’re $2.00 for all 4 chairs or 50 cents each. Then, she proceeded to look around and found a jalapeno light wreath and asked how much it was. I told her it was $1. She was aghast and said she didn’t want it if any of the lights were burnt out. So, I plugged it in for her to inspect. All of the jalapenos shown brightly, so she took it. I helped her to the car, where she had several pre-teen boys who had locked the car doors and were laughing. She had asked them earlier to help her get the chairs to the car, so you could see how that worked out.
The rest of the day went like that. People came to haggle over and buy our “junk” while the teaching stuff hardly got noticed. When it was noticed, people looking through the stuff commented that they knew somebody who could use this stuff or would love to buy it and that they would bring them back tomorrow. One former teacher commented on how much work was put into getting these things into groups, bags, etc. Several of them found treasures in a book or two. I was sure Saturday would bring the teachers. They must have been working on Friday.
Saturday came and hardly anyone showed up for the sale. There were a couple of teachers who came for the sale. One bought a few small items. Another one’s friend pointed something out to her, and she responded with, “Why should I pay for it when I can get it free?” I thought… “Well, goody for you! You can get it free. I couldn’t. I had no curriculum, no textbooks to follow, no supplies, etc. “ I was in a field where I gave the tests, kept the data and applied for federal grant money, etc. but was not allowed to have any of the money for my budget. Classroom teachers got all those things plus a budget, but I did not. So, because I wanted better for my students, I bought the materials with my own money. That was one of the ways in which I felt insignificant and not valued at all.
At the end of an exhausting week and 2 days of sitting outside in hot, STICKY weather, haggling with people over almost free stuff, I had sold almost NONE of my teaching stuff, and we had made almost $200… from JUNK. Don’t get me wrong, I’m becoming a junker and love upcycling, but even I couldn’t make toast from the junk we put out there. I couldn’t believe some of the stuff people were buying and stuff they were looking past and not buying. There was one lady who was digging through these nasty plastic towel bars and rings. The plastic had painted gold on top that was peeling off. She bought the whole bag! Can you believe it? I was sure that would have to be taken to ReStore. Nobody bought the heavy, folding tables we had. One guy looked over one and talked to his wife about it, but she pointed out that $5 was too much and that they didn’t need it. Hahahaha! I am still in shock over the behavior of these people and will be glad to never have another garage sale in my life!
I admit that I was hurt that none of the teaching stuff sold like I thought it would. I ended up donating it to a Catholic school. I am sure they don’t have much of a budget and cannot pay their teachers much either, so I figured this would help them out some. When I took it to the school, the principal and teachers were very grateful and full of smiles and disbelief at their luck. I also took stuff to ReStore and to the thrift store. Those 2 folding tables were taken to ReStore. I checked in with the manager to see what they wanted, and she had a young guy help me get those heavy tables out. As we were laying them on the cart an older gentleman stood there and asked what was wrong with the tables. I thought he was part of the store staff. I said there was nothing wrong, other than they are heavy and taking up space in our basement. He then asked, “Well, can I have one?” My jaw dropped. I am still shaking my head about this. The boy helping me said he guessed so, but I interrupted with he could buy it after we take it into the store. That’s when he said, “Never mind” and walked off.
The point of this post is that I found out a lot about people and myself from this garage sale. The final straw was the gentleman in front of ReStore. I think we all want something for nothing, something for free… myself included. Our nation’s economy has tanked in the past 5+ years. A lot of people are in a bad way, financially. Or, we think we are. We’ve had to give up our previous way of living and live on a tighter budget, grasping at straws for help in recovering and living the way we had before. Some of us, me included, have continued living beyond our means, maxing out credit cards so we don’t disappoint others with our perceived lack, especially at Christmas time.
I will admit that I am embarrassed by my house. I need to get that porch fixed, because it is one thing that I cannot hide from the world and from others, unlike the inside of my home. The flooring needs to be replaced throughout the house. The carpeting is worn down to the mesh and is stained where it is not as worn. I need to replace the trim around the front door where our dog has tried to go through the window. The list goes on and on. And, of course, I want to finish the basement, where my quilting machine lives in what I call my studio, the dungeon.
I’ve entered contests to win free stuff, updating on my house, etc. What I’ve gotten is more spam in my email inbox and more desires for things I do not have, cannot have, and will not have. It doesn’t help to be bombarded with commercials on TV touting the latest and greatest – if you want to keep up with the rest of the world, you need to have this or this or this or this… And, there are our well-meaning friends who are so happy with their own latest and greatest that they want to show us. I don’t blame them; I would do the same. Or, think of the lottery. How cool would it be if it were you or me that won the lottery? Admit it, we end up wishing for things we don’t have but could have… if we just won the lottery.
Okay, so we can’t keep up with the Joneses. Who cares? We are who we are, and that is good enough. For now I am going to try to concentrate on being grateful for what I do have and to keep on working for money instead of expecting it to be given to me for free. I think it’s time for me to go back to the ethics of the 1950s or before. Work hard, make sacrifices, and don’t expect handouts. Little by little, things can get better.