At the church rummage sale last Saturday:
A man was looking at a really nice tea set we had for sale–not made of plastic, not chipped, beautifully painted–and finally asked how much it was. I told him $5 and he responded with “I’ll give you 75 cents.”
What I thought: What a stupid thing to say to me! Was that supposed to be haggling? Are you kidding me? You’re supposed to suggest $4, maybe $3, and instead you go below a dollar? Get out of my sight!”
What I said: “Mmmm, I don’t think so.”
The church’s priest came over to our booth. Since we aren’t regulars at this church (we go to another one in the county and had just heard about this sale from our church’s newsletter), I smiled at the priest but didn’t greet him by name as the other vendors around us did. He was interested in some barbecue tools my dad had given my mom to sell and I told him it was $3 for all five. “How much for priests?” he asked.
What I thought: Was that a joke? I can’t tell if you were trying to be funny, or if you’re a greedy priest. Either way, I’m uncomfortable. If you’re being greedy, though, I must point out to you that a lot of this money is going to your church. Are you being greedy and trying to cheat your own parish? Hold on while I move a few feet away from you, because I’m pretty sure your boss (with a capital B) is about to smite you big time.
What I said: “Haha…ha? Um, have you met my grandma? Hey grandma, he’s interested in the barbecue tools.”
The woman with the booth next to us was really nice and clicked with my mom right away. The two of them ended up chatting for most of the six hours that we were in the church parking lot. She was selling a beautiful, very old-looking basket for a whopping $40, a price that prompted every potential buyer to immediately set it back down as carefully as if it were a chotchke bomb. The basket was close to our things, which gave a lot of people the mistaken impression that it was my item and I was in charge. I knew how much the vendor was selling it for because I had heard her tell at least a dozen people, but when I was asked I would just point and tell the person “It’s that lady’s, over there.” Not my basket, not my problem. Eventually though, I got tired of being the middle woman. A woman with skin one shade away from an oompa loompa’s called me over. “This is gorgeous,” she barked. “How much?” I told her it wasn’t mine, but that I knew the woman was selling it for $40. She raised her already arched eyebrows and said “You must be kidding. It’s not even in good condition. It’s, like, old.”
What I thought: Um, I’m pretty sure that’s the point–that it’s old. I happen to agree that $40 is a surprisingly high price for a rummage sale, but the seller must think it’s worth that much. You don’t know anything about it–it could be a hundred year old basket. It could have a rich history. It could have been hand-made and passed down for generations, only to land at a church rummage sale. You seemed to recognize that it’s gorgeous, but somehow you think it can’t be gorgeous and old? You are full of contradictions. You and your skin color are an enigma surrounded by mystery.
What I said: “Yes, I’m sure it is very old.”
The woman with the coveted basket also had a beautiful candelabra for sale. It was in a sort of tree shape, with indented pedestals for small, flat candles. I thought it would be a great jewelry holder, not to mention that it would be pretty all lit up with candles, and was surprised that no one bought it. I mentioned this to the seller as we were packing up our stuff. “You like it?” she smiled. “It’s yours! Take it, please.” Of course, then came the obligatory, polite back-and-forth, with me insisting that I’d pay for it and her insisting that I could have it. Finally, she got me with: “Come on, you don’t have a job–you can’t just be buying candelabras with your non-existent paycheck!”
What I thought: Ouch. Below the belt!
What I said: “Well, you have a point…”