Monday, July 15, 2013

The Psychology of Thrifting

Other than for travel purposes, airports are only good for people watching.  Whenever I fly anywhere and am forced to wait through a long and tedious layover, the psychologist in me always finds it entertaining to watch the other travelers and how they behave.  What they wear.  Where they are going.  The things they say.

If airports are good for people watching, however, garage sales are a gold mine. 

After the three days I spent thinking of nothing other than affordably priced onesies and ridding myself of the squawking rubber chicken I'd mysteriously accumulated, I was grateful for the opportunity to sit back and watch as people took my things to clear my house and clutter their own.  But very quickly, the influx of cash took a back seat to the thrill of guessing how our patrons would respond.

The young mothers all checked out the plethora of baby clothes I'd carefully displayed, sorting through them respectfully and making their selections.  The few men that stopped by were all on a mission, walking only a few steps up my driveway and shouting out their requests.

"I need fishing tackle!"

"Sorry, we don't have any of that, but we do have--"

"--See ya."

Apparently garage sales are a case study in the psychology of men, as well.  If only I had a football game on tv and a case of beer, we could award credit.

But the last faction of our customers, the die-hard garage sale-goers, were a quirky bunch.  The older women sauntered up in their wide-brimmed hats and rifled through the piles of good-quality (and often new or unused) items I'd placed on tables only to emerge with the one piece of junk I'd thrown out on a lark.  One woman thought she had hit the jackpot when she discovered my stash of dentist-provided toothbrushes, useless in my house thanks to our more effective electric options.  Another lady jumped at the opportunity to own a spice rack with no spices and a tether ball with no tether.

I suppose I shouldn't laugh too hard or bite the hand that feeds me.  I am frequently guilty of placing a collection of items on the checkout belt that would make the store clerk glance at me sideways.  After all, what use could a person have for a bungee cord, two boxes of jello and some Q-tips?

I only hope they didn't assume the same things about me that I thought about the eccentric gentleman at our sale that bought a lobster oven mitt and that rubber chicken in exchange for $.25.

On second thought, maybe people-watching is best left for the airport.

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Leave your own "ism". Cael and Graham double-dog dare you.