Sunday, July 14, 2013

spontaneous yard sale

I live in a duplex. There are about 4 steps up to our front doors, and large covered concrete patio adorned with hanging and potted flowers. It’s usually pretty quiet around here; however, on this fateful Saturday things were different. When I opened my front door, I couldn’t believe my eyes. There literally was a yard sale occurring on my porch! There were people sitting on the steps, they had belongings for sale arranged all over the steps and on the porch railings. They also had a rope strung across the two ornamental plum trees in my front yard area and on it several clothing items had been hung. They also had tarps on our front lawn that presented an array of household items, furniture and books. I was literally shocked as I surveyed this before my eyes.

I couldn’t believe I was looking at a yard sale set up on my porch and in my yard. This definitely wasn’t a project my duplex neighbor was involved in. The whole scene struck me as strange—I’ve come to expect a wide variety of weirdness living in Portlandia but this had to have taken the cake for weirdness that I’ve personally encountered. I remember thinking, “are these people having a yard sale on my porch??” I didn’t know what to say about this. I looked around at the many people right outside of my residence and did not recognize a single one. I just decided to move forth and get on with my day.

I had to gingerly step over people and items to get out of my apartment. As I was attempting to exit, one woman sitting on the steps eating takeout turned to me and enthusiastically said, “Hey, thanks for letting us use your porch for our sale!” That statement really caught me off guard and I replied, “um, your welcome, however, I am just now learning that you are using my porch and yard for a sale. Is it your sale?” the woman nervously looked around as she put the container she was eating from down. “Um, yes, it’s mine, her's and her’s,” pointing to two other women in the sea of people looking through a large random assortment of household items, furniture and clothing. I recognized one of the women she pointed at as Sanlinn Deserthymm, my older hippie neighbor who lives in the building next to mine. I’m not sure why Sanlinn decided to set up shop on my front porch and was curious to know what prompted her to do that. Sanlinn has nice open area visible from the street in front of her apartment and if I were her, that’s where I’d set up my spontaneous yard sale.

This is the neighbor's cat Jasper on my non-cluttered porch, as seen in other non-yard sale times.
Jasper, like many others in my neighborhood, seem to really like to use my porch. 
I was little annoyed about this but wanting to be a good sport, decided to look at all of the wares spread out on my property. I like a good yard sale so maybe there’s something interesting here. I immediately spotted a large mirror and inquired as to how much it was. “Oh, that one’s sold,” said the sheepish woman on my steps. Next I looked at a couple of dresses hanging on the rope between trees. “Um, sorry, those are sold too.” Jesus! Can’t I get a resident’s break? I start to browse around at the other items for sale and come across some interesting looking shoes that seemed to be my size. “Sorry again,” the woman on the steps said to me, “those are sold, we’re waiting for the person who wants them to come back and pay.” I was pretty done with yard sale shopping at this point, politely suggested she put “sold” stickers on stuff that was sold, and headed away on foot to run my errands.

When I came back a few hours later, the yard sale on my porch and property was still in full swing. The “sold” mirror, dresses and shoes were in the same places as when I left. I started to maneuver through the crowd to get to my residence when Sanlinn approached me. “Hey, I’m sorry I didn’t tell you sooner about the yard sale, I’m sensing that you might be a little annoyed.” I thought it was pretty hippy passive of her to tell me that she “senses that I’m a little annoyed” right after her insincere apology, so I turned it around with a little bit of motivational interviewing. I asked why she thought I was annoyed and she replied because she has her 3 family yard sale set up on my property. I next asked her if she would be surprised if she opened her front door and there was a crowd there and she agreed. I asked why she didn’t set the show up in front her place and she said she thought my yard was a better spot. (At least she was honest). I asked her how long this sale was occurring and she said until 7. I expressed if she had asked me, I probably would have said yes anyway, and also might have some items of my own I wanted to sell. I could have helped promote their yard sale too; I have a vast network spanning different life activities. 

Sanlinn ended the conversation by thanking me for understanding. I guess it was nice she thanked me even though I didn’t have a choice in the matter. I thought later it would have been pretty funny to call the cops and tell them there’s a bunch of people stealing stuff from my front lawn. I wouldn’t have actually done that although I get a chuckle out of imagining the scenario with cops showing up and a bunch of old hippie ladies trying to explain themselves. 

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