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Not fair!

I learned a valuable lesson this week. Two, actually:

#1) Never hold a garage sale during Fair week.

#2) Some people are just pure evil.

I’ve held a dozen garage sales at this address and this one had the least amount of traffic ever. My oldest son had warned me, “Mom, Fair week might not be a good time to hold a garage sale. People in this town live for the fair.  They’ll be too busy to go to your sale.”

He was right. There were several “regulars’ that didn’t make it, and one I wish hadn’t.

Every time I have a sale now this same guy shows up.

The first time he came, I thought he was just trying to be funny.

But, instead, he is intent on cheating me. Every single time.  And, flustered, I let him.

I used to be a cynic. For several years I was like the Hallmark Maxine; my dry and caustic wit covering up the fact that I didn’t much like most people and I was sure their intentions were mostly selfish . For a period of about ten years, I wasn’t a real happy person. My marriage relationship reflected that. I’m not proud of the fact that I thought even the goodness of my siblings and relatives was suspect. I avoided family gatherings and dealing with the public. I was figuratively and literally holed up in my country house, encountering as few humans as possible.

Not a good way to live.

I was transformed during David’s cancer treatment.  I saw the genuine goodness of so many people during that time; the nurses and doctors and family members and friends who reached out to help, David’s co-workers and even strangers who cared~ it was an amazing thing to see. I started looking for, and expecting, good from everyone I encountered, and my little world opened up. I am a happier and better person now.  I smile more, hug more, and find myself  reaching out to others and connecting on so many levels. Just writing about this makes me smile and feel “warm fuzzies” because by believing in the innate goodness of others, I have found the world a much better place.

And then I meet evil.
This man, with a huge jovial smile and a blustering attitude brings his chosen merchandise up to the table and it starts.

Will you take a quarter for this?  What about if I get two of them? Can I have them for a dollar? Can I pay you tomorrow? How about a quarter for this? Why not?”

He is handing me money as he dickers on prices, and I am putting his choices into a box or bag. But he talks so fast and he adds more to the bag that he didn’t pay for and I start to falter. I pull it out and he insists he just paid for it. He knows every trick in the book, and I am the clueless one. I remember his tricks from the last encounter, but he is pulling out new ones. I’m busy with other customers, one who whispers “Bless your heart. Just think of him as your good deed for the day.“

He asks if he can have two of the paper towels for 50-cents and  I say they are $1, then he says “How about a quarter?”  I think he won’t stop until I give him a discount so I counter with 75-cents each. And it isn’t the least bit funny because when I hesitate and agree to 50-cents for the two in his hands, he brings up six more. When I protest, he says I agreed to 50-cents. I tell him that was for two and not eight, but he is handing me four one dollar bills while he loads up the towels in a box, and didn’t he just stick a couple deodorants in there too? And I turn around and my family is on the porch oblivious to my dilemma and I just want this guy out of here, and besides, I have two customers waiting.

I’m not stupid. I realize I’m being had, but his wife or girlfriend, or whatever, is at the table now and ready to pay full-price for her selections, and he is loading up his truck, and I just want him gone. I remember the same thing happening last time I dealt with him; and the girlfriend paying full-price for an arm full while he hopped around surprisingly fast for an overweight man, jumping from one subject to the next and trying to get me to go down on every little thing. And just when I think he is done and I’ll be rid of him, he asks about something else.

I’m not against dickering at garage sales. I had another man dicker with me on everything yesterday afternoon, but on the second day of a sale and when certain things aren’t moving, his offers were reasonable like $1 for something that was $1.25 or buying two $3 razors for $5. Plus, he didn’t try to trip me up by handing me money throughout the exchange, and I didn’t mind his kind of dickering at all.  In fact, I admired it. That second guy was having fun getting some good deals at a garage sale. The first guy was trying to cheat me, and I suspect, did very well at it, better than he should have. I let him do it, and that is what bothers me more than anything.  I shouldn’t have been alone at the table and I should have pulled everything out of the bags and told him we’d do his final tally at the end when he was completed with his shopping. I will next time, as I am sure there will be a next time. But then, he’ll likely add to his repertoire of tricks by then.

I bet he and his girlfriend were chuckling about the sap at the garage sale when they left. I am sure he felt very powerful by his deceit.  I, on the other hand, felt weak, and frankly, a bit shaky after he left.

One nasty man at my garage sale reminded me that, unfortunately, despite all the goodness and light in the world, there is still evil lurking out there.

Author:

Author, public speaker, and workshop presenter for community colleges, libraries, women's groups and for grief support groups, Hospice and retreats. Certified grief counselor and Senior Service librarian for the James Kennedy Public library. Popular public speaker and workshop presenter on the topics of writing, couponing, utilizing your creativity in everyday life, and finding hope in grief. "Coupon Crazy: The Science, the Savings, and the Stories Behind America's Extreme Obsession" was published by Familius Publishing in 2014. "Chemo-Therapist: How Cancer Cured a Marriage" and "Refined By Fire: A Journey of Grief and Grace" were released by Familius in 2014. "Mary & Me: A Lasting Link Through Ink," co-written with Mary Jedlicka Humston of Iowa City, was published in September 2015. Grief journal to be released in 2018.

8 thoughts on “Not fair!

  1. Mary- Next Garage sale have a brave soul follow him around taking pictures of him holding items, including when he checks out. When he asks why they are taking pictures, they can say, “so we have evidence of theft for the police like they told us to do”. : )

    1. Very, very good, Becki! I like that strategy. And yes, I would tell him he has to pile up items in a box next to your check out and when he is ready to check out , you tally it up putting it into another type of container or bag and when paid for; one of your kids escorts it to his car to make sure he has all the purchases paid for. If he wants to shop more; he has to start loading up a new box next to your check out. Mary, I volunteer to help with your next sale on the first day (unless it is in Sept.)and I will personally take care of him. I will make him accountable for every item or he will be “uninvited”!!!!

  2. Mary, I have heard of people doing this at garage sales. They make a “game” out of cheating people of their money and their items. I used to work in a grocery store and I was always told to put the money that the customer gave me on top of the key pad and leave it there until the transaction was complete. That way there will be no confusion on the dollar amount owed. In your case, I would leave all of the “gentleman’s” items left to one side until he is done shopping. Then if you do let people come down in price, I would tell them as I added everything up how much this is or how much that is, etc. This is one area that I will not dicker with at my garage sales. Anything that I sell at my sales that are from my coupon stash I will make signs that say Prices are Firm!! If someone wants to dicker, I will politely tell them that my prices are half of Wal Mart, and I don’t charge tax so I will not come down. Usually people don’t argue any further. I do know that some people like this kind of game. Its like they get a rush out of it. I am sorry that this happened to you. Hopefully it will never happen again.

  3. Mary, I forgot to mention that people would do this in grocery stores as well. Where I worked, some people did this to one of the most experienced cashiers. She got so flustered, she ended up with her drawer short of money. So don’t feel too bad. I do wonder if you could deny someone shopping at your garage sale? If he has been there before and has made a habit of doing this, I don’t see why you couldn’t politely tell him that he is not welcome here. After all he can’t exactly go to the police and complain because he already knows what he did was wrong in the first place. It is just a thought.

    1. I know I will handle him differently next time. In fact, I will tell him outright that prices are firm until the third day of the sale and not take any money from him until he is done looking, nor will I put anything in bags until he is done, even if he has to wait behind other people. I have a feeling the “girlfriend” is in on the game. And, Pat, I would LOVE to see you handle him! :o) I am sure you have had similar experiences in your shop.

  4. Mary-
    I hope you made something for all the trouble.
    I have had a couple who had come to my sales twice last year, but nothing to the extreme of the guy who was at yours, they would want me to go about 1/2 more on the 6-10 items they would bring up to my check out table. I would say “NO” I can go to “Jake’s” which is a flea market and sell all these things no problem. Although I have never been there, but I don’t think I would have a problem selling the things at my prices. We still would LOVE to get there once this year, we’ll see. But I won’t go down on anything really, my prices are atleast 1/2 off usually about 60-70 percent less then retail. If they want it, they will buy it, if not it’s their for the next customer.

    Lisa

  5. I would have told him to leave or I am calling the police! I only have sales when my husband is here and I have a friend or two to watch my back! We always watch the people..

  6. Also, I do get a “regular” mexican lady who will come back over and over even on the same day to ask me to go lower and I politely say, “No”.. lol If someone spends a lot of money I will knock off a buck or two or throw in some ziploc if they request otherwise I don’t dicker much. I go to Walmart the weekend before and write down the prices for the items and mark everything half off or less so I KNOW they are getting a deal.

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