Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Duchess Crazypants

I've been planning a garage sale since last fall when I cleaned the house in preparation for the Pookerton's arrival, but weather, then physical limitations, delayed it indefinitely. Finally, this weekend I made the big push, and we scrambled to make signs and post them, get the goods organized and priced, and entice local wackos into our yard.

And check.

The first wave of people who show up right at our start time are a bunch of book dealers. They paw through boxes and boxes of old college texts, sci-fi, thriller, and travel books looking for rare and valuable finds. A couple of them have book guides and internet-ready cell phones to check the books' worth. At $.25 a book, they get some great deals.

We have our share of neighborhood folks out on walks, yard sale junkies, and antique hunters (sorry, no lost Renoirs or Ming Vases in our collection). But by far the most interesting, frustrating, and hilarious "customer" is this old Indian woman who speaks almost no English (or that is her shtick, anyway--she is either cunningly hiding her communication skills or she is truly mentally handicapped).

The first time she stops by (or Round 1 as Crystal likes to refer to it), she wanders around the driveway looking around for a while. I smile and say, "Hi," and she nods back. Finally, she gestures to a metal cooking bowl marked at $.50. She points to the price tag and I say, "It's fifty cents."

She nods and picks up the bowl as if to leave. So I once again try to clarify, "That bowl is fifty cents ma'am."

Again she nods and makes to leave.

Here's where I realize this isn't going to be a simple transaction. I pull out two quarters from my pocket and show them to her, saying, "See. You give me fifty cents. Two quarters." So she holds out her hand to take the money and the bowl, smiling all the time as though this is how she gets things everyday.

"No, no. YOU give ME fifty cents and you can take the bowl."

"Yes. Fifty. I take."

"Do you have any money?"

"Yes. I take."

"I'm not going to give you fifty cents to take my bowl. You get some money and you can have it."

As this goes on and on like a Laurel and Hardy routine, louder and louder, the people around us struggle to hold in their laughter. Finally the woman wanders off--without the bowl--still smiling.

I turn to my husband and friends and everyone bursts into gales of laughter. A customer comes up to Kevin with a few books and says, "So you give me a dollar and I'll take these books."

More laughter.

Round 2 occurs while I'm inside with River, putting him down for a nap. This time Thom gets to deal with her. We have a nice soup set with serving dish, plates, and bowls priced at $10. Apparently, Thom is so eager to get rid of her that he breaks up the set and sells the plates to her for $1. I was upset when I heard the set was broken up, completely reducing its value, but I couldn't stay mad when I found out who bought it.

Round 3 comes about an hour later when the woman (or Duchess Crazypants, as I refer to her) comes back for the rest of the soup set. I cringe as I see her walking up. Crystal is occupied with another customer and Thom is taking care of River. Try as I might, I can't find anyone else to deal with her. As I avoid making eye contact she walks back to where our "staging area" is--paper and markers for signs, our personal item, a place to sit, etc. She picks up a plastic bag and comes back to where the goods are.

She walks straight up to the soup set she had previously broken up and points to it.

We had reduced the price so I told her, "Three dollars."

She holds out her hand. In it, four quarters. Laurel and Hardy here we come...

"Nope. Three dollars."

"Yes. Yes." All smiles. Quarters in hand.

"No, see it used to be TEN dollars, but we've reduced it to THREE." My hands gesture wildly.

"Yes." Big smile, two more quarters appear.

"No. There's no way I'm selling this for a dollar fifty. It's three dollars and that's it."




"NO! You're crazy. It's three dollars and that's it."

The Duchess concedes. At the end of this exchange, Crystal notices that the plastic bag she's holding is weighted. So she says, "Excuse me," and reaches into the bag, finding a pair of my scissors.

"Hey! You can't have those." And she takes them out. The crazy old bat was trying to steal my scissors!

Undaunted, the Duchess wanders over to the purple area rug I've had since college. We should refer to this as The Rug, so hotly debated it has been. See, Thom hates The Rug and has been trying to get rid of it since I moved in with him. I don't see what's so bad about it--it's a perfectly fine rug and has served me well. Well, I finally gave into him when we got a new rug for River's room, and I had priced it at $5.

She motions to The Rug, holds out her $1.50 and I say, "Fine. Take the rug."

I take the money out of her hand. Inwardly, I smile because I think she'll leave. Outwardly, Thom smiles because he thinks The Rug is gone. Turns out we're both wrong.

She wanders back to the kitchen section.

On no. She's not leaving. Why isn't she leaving?!

She picks up a $.10 tin and motions to her bag.

"You want the tin? Fine." Just leave.

She doesn't stop there. She picks up a $1 steamer from Crystal's table and starts to put it in her bag.

"No, no, no," Crystal says, "You can't have that."

Crystal has to take it out of her hand. Finally, the Duchess leaves.

Round 4 happens while I'm gone, once again. Apparently her husband feels the same way about The Rug as Thom does, because she returns carrying it, saying, "Husband. No. Husband. No."

Thom grudgingly takes The Rug, so sad to see it return, and gives her her money back. By the end of the day I just thank my lucky stars she doesn't return.


the author said...

Shoulda told me, man. I'm a big yard-saler. Let me know if you do it again.


Summer Ryan Doyle said...

Sorry, man, it was so short notice. Will definitely let you know next time.

Andy said...

LOL! Too darn funny!

You had BOOKS?? I would have loved to have rifled through your book collection - especially if you were gicing me money to take them away. :-)

CiscoKid said...

That should have been captured for YouTube..

Ms. Marie said...

That is freaking hillarious! I've never heard of anything like that before. It was even funnier when I was picturing it! Sounds like a fun day though!