A humbling moment

23 Jul

Last weekend we had a garage sale before our upcoming move. It wasn’t too much work in general. I’d been gathering things to send off to Goodwill for a while, since we knew we were moving. However, there were several things that I knew were still so new or hardly used/worn, that we could make a little bit of money from selling them. I really didn’t have time to worry about doing a lot of extra advertising, so I just placed an ad in the paper and bought a few signs from Home Depot to put out. I’d noticed that once the weather got warmer around here in late May, the garage sales starting popping up every weekend. So, I knew that we would get a crowd if we placed our signs correctly. Saturday morning came, and we had plenty of shoppers (or “rummagers”).

Up here, people often use the term “rummage sale” instead of “garage sale”, which you do also hear, but not as much. Have you ever thought about how many words there are for these kinds of things? Seriously, think about it… we have rummage, yard, garage, tag and thrift sales. I’m sure there are more words that I don’t even know, but I found it interesting to think about all the terms we use and how they differ, depending on where you are geographically. Yes, I am a nerd and I work with words… I digress.

So, we had a good crowd of people come to our sale, and we sold quite a bit. Our main goal was to get rid of things we don’t use/need/want anymore, and whatever money we made, we’d be happy. We had at least 5 people comment on how unique our items were. I think that helped, as we ended up selling a lot of home decor items. In fact, that was the majority of our revenue that day. At one point around 1 pm, a young girl stopped by. She was with an older woman (her grandmother, perhaps?), who waited in their van while she looked around. I tried to greet everyone who came by, and perhaps it’s my southern self talking here, but I enjoy talking to people, even strangers. So, I asked if she was looking for anything in particular. She said she was moving into a new apartment. I told her that I remember moving into my first apartment and piecing together different items to make it feel more like a home. I pointed out a few things she might like, and she mentioned that she liked some of them. At one point, she started to seem a little uncomfortable. So, I stopped talking and let her look for herself. After looking at everything, she said she might come back later and quickly walked back to her van.

I mentioned to my husband that I doubted she’d be back, as it was already close to the end of our sale. Since there were so many sales in our area that day, I figured she was going to browse around other sales and see if she could find something more her style or in her price range. Honestly, these were my assumptions, because our items were priced very low, but you never know what people are looking to spend. I thought very little about it after that, since plenty of people stop by garage sales and don’t find something to buy. At 3 pm, we started to bring what was left inside and take apart our tables. My husband grabbed our signs from the road, and we started to gather what was left to donate.

Then, I heard a car stop close to our drive and I looked up. It was the same girl that stopped by earlier in the afternoon. I walked over to their van and asked her if there was anything she’d like to see again, because we were just starting to put things away and she was more than welcome to still look and buy whatever she liked. She came back to the garage with me and said she would like to buy a few items she’d seen the first time she was there. I started to pull things out for her from the piles we’d gathered, and she picked a few things. Remembering how I just really wanted to get rid of these items, I decided to give her a few items, too. I asked what else she might need and she picked out a basket. After filling two bags, she asked what she owed. $3.50. She looked at me in shock. “Really? That’s all?” she asked me. “Yep, that’s it.” I could tell she didn’t have the means to pay much, and she couldn’t have been more than 18 years old. I knew she needed these things and that she was being very careful about how much money she should spend.

As we were picking up the bags to help her put them in her van, I asked her if she needed a kitchen cart for her kitchen. I told her I’d give it to her for free if she wanted it. Again, a look of shock. “Yes, really. We are happy to give it to you if you can use it,” I told her.  She admitted that her kitchen was very small and a kitchen cart would help a lot with storage.

In fact, that’s why we bought the cart in the first place. When we had a smaller apartment with a small kitchen and little storage, it came in very handy. We simply didn’t need it anymore. I could tell she was excited to have it, so we brought it over to the van, too. When she opened the sliding door, I saw a little guy in the back seat. He looked like he was about 2 years old. She told us he was her son. Immediately I felt like this was supposed to happen. She came back to get these few extra items to start putting together their home. And then, as soon as they drove away, I felt an immediate sense of guilt. I really did not think she would have come back for anything after she left the first time. I wished I had thought to give her more. After all, we were going to donate the rest anyhow. I know that she chose what she wanted from what we had left, but I still had a twinge of guilt the rest of the day, thinking that I could have done more.

All this to say, it’s important to remember that we don’t know what others are dealing with in life. This humbling experience made me stop for a while after what has been an incredibly hectic and stressful month and think about how quickly we can judge a situation without considering someone else’s struggles. It makes our everyday annoyances and complaints seem silly in comparison. I don’t usually share these types of things on my blog, but I’ve been thinking about this a lot this week. Kind of wordy… I know. If you’ve made it this far, thanks for reading.

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Posted by on July 23, 2014 in Miscellaneous


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