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LIFE ... WITHOUT BUMPER PADS

Garage sale, and lessons learned, went much better than expected

Monday, July 15, 2013 - 12:01 am

Editor's note: Jill Adams is a professional writer based in Fort Wayne.

My husband and I stood side by side, gazing into our garage. We didn't speak. We didn't move. We just … stared.

The structure formally created to store our vehicles had somehow become loaded down with what I coined as “house overflow.” Everything we either didn't want to part with or couldn't find a place for had found an unceremonious home in our garage. Outgrown toys, ill-fitting clothing, unused baby gear … we had officially placed it all in the land of limbo.

“You know we have to do something about this,” my husband finally said, breaking the silence.

I nodded.

“Garage sale,” I said simply.

And with those two words, a plan was in place.

Over the next week, we spent every spare moment gathering, sorting, cleaning, reassembling and organizing all of our unused merchandise. Our children watched the process with little interest, preferring instead to stay engaged in their summer activities. I viewed this reaction as nonchalance.

Early that Saturday morning, the sun already bright and hot, we officially opened our garage door for business. Cars were lined up the street, and while our children snoozed soundly, my husband and I sold almost half of our items in the first hour of business. We looked at each other with satisfaction, feeling our hard work was paying off. The sale was a success.

Or at least we thought it was — until our groggy children emerged into the garage, their hair mussed from sleep. As our oldest son looked around at the remaining merchandise, his eyes suddenly grew wide with horror.

“What is my truck doing out here?” he asked with indignation, running over defensively to the toy.

I looked over at my husband, wondering if it was a trick question.

“You have two others just like it,” he said to our son. “And you don't play with it. It's been in the garage for months.”

“That doesn't mean I want to sell it!” our little boy shrieked, sending my eyebrows northward to my hairline.

“Watch the tone mister,” I said in warning. “If it's that important to you, we don't have to sell it.”

And with that — as if they had made a game plan before joining us in the garage — all three kids pounced on old toys and clothes, pleading with us to spare them from the sale. I surveyed the chaos in shock. This had been a lot easier without their participation.

As my husband and I attempted to diffuse the crisis, a small car pulled up to our driveway. Two parents and two young children emerged from the vehicle, and my attention instantly went from my kids' meltdown to this new arrival.

The shoppers looked over our sale items, and as they did, I noticed my sons observing the two young visitors, who looked to be roughly the same ages. One young shopper shyly approached my oldest son.

“I really like your truck,” he said. “I've always wanted a truck like that.”

Overhearing the conversation, the boy's father looked my way.

“Is it for sale?” he asked me quietly.

I looked down at my son.

“You tell me,” I said with a hopeful smile.

My son looked down at his truck, and I could see him thoughtfully considering the situation. Finally, he handed the truck to the boy.

“You can just have it,” he said with a small smile.

I felt my heart swell with pride as the little boy beamed at my son. Then, to my amazement, I saw my other two children replace all the items they had hoped to salvage. I gazed at my husband in shock, and he mirrored my expression.

The family made a few purchases and went on their way. Our children abandoned the sale and got to the task of building a fort. We had a successful afternoon, and eventually closed our makeshift shop with tired satisfaction.

As my husband counted our earnings, I decided there were three people who might deserve a little treat.

“I think we should put some of that hard-earned money toward a pizza feast,” I announced.

Whoops of excitement rippled through our yard, eliciting laughter from my husband and me. It was fun to be able to celebrate a productive day.

But as I reflected on the events that morning, I knew that even if our sale hadn't made a dime, it would have been the best garage sale I could have ever hoped for.

This column is the personal opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views or opinion of The News-Sentinel. Jill Adams blogs at http://lifewithoutbumperpads.blogspot.com.