I just woke up from a nap, during which I dreamt of NeilPaul (yikes, first I wrote Ron Paul - no, no). I was in my OS spot, just inside the front door, and all wrapped up in blankets (well, I was napping), and front door opened and in came a couple guys and one I recognized from NP's photo from the NY meet-up. NeilPaul's face had struck me, and has stuck with me, because it seemed to be one of those pink red-hair faces with the invisible eyelashes and eyebrows that a few people in my family have, and also it didn't look a lot like his avatar shot. (And looked about 18 years old, but then a lot of people do these days).
Anyway we exchanged some banter, and then they went on upstairs to check on the other OSers, and NP said something about how he was the boss come to inspect and I yelled up after him, "I hope I made a good impression." [Note - he who posts the mosts gets to be the boss.]
But just in case of trouble I cleaned up my station and decided to find another spot - cuz this one was obviously for the receptionist, now that OS was getting all businesslike, and I'd done enough of that crap in my life. Then I went into the adjoining apartment, which I'd lived in for a while but had pretty much cleared out, ready for vacuuming, except for a final bit of junk near the door. (I'M GETTING THERE, JUST BE PATIENT.) I sort of got distracted by it - some masks predominantly green (I'd have to find a room in my new digs where they'd go well) and here was a nice little carpet (I could wrap the masks in that) and...oh, it's vanishing, the way dreams do, but there was some good junk there...
I have recurring junk dreams.
Sometimes in my sleep I go to dumps where treasures can be mined. And I have a dreamscape of the city I used to live in, which only vaguely corresponds to the real one, but it has a couple of Salvation Armies I visit regularly on night patrol.
All of this because I used to be an office worker - only occasionally a receptionist, but I think all this OS typing reminds me of offices, and the junk interlude next door has to do with my second "career" after my kids left home, and I left home, and 'retired' early from all that boring office stuff.
I became a junk dealer.
I did a few other things too, some free-lance work (describing old money for a guy doing a catalogue, a little bookkeeping, some steno on call).
But together with a friend who was also a junk person, and whom I'd met at garage sales, I rented a space at a big flea market and, in addition to garage sales and rummage sales, in order to get merch we did midnight cruises of upper middle-class neighborhoods the night before garbage pick-up.
And we weren't alone.
In fact, I read somewhere a name for folks like us, only I've forgotten. (I've been retired from that second career for a while now.) And I can't find it on that source of all information, the internet. Owell. I guess "garbage-pickers" will do.
There are the serious ones, who go looking for metal, or repairable snowblowers or whatever. And then there was us.
You'd be surprised what people throw out.
And what they pay good money for at the flea market.
One thing I learned was that practical items like clothing (unless it's vintage or weird) and kitchen stuff don't move. Totally impractical is what people are looking for. I once for stock acquisition I picked up a copper plaque for some kind of union award, which my partner pooh-poohed as a waste of (minimal) space, and I had the opportunity, which I exploited, to be smug when it was the first item that sold, and for some silly price.
First day I learned about pricing. I had a sword, if I remember right, something weird anyway, and gave it the price I wanted. Somebody came along and offered me half. I refused and he went away and I immediately changed the label to double the price. After a while he wandered back, cuz he really wanted it, looked at the label, laughed, and offered me half (i.e., my original price). Which I cheerfully took. After that I priced accordingly.
And got into haggling. I hadn't done much of that at garage sales, where stuff is sold real cheap, nor at midnight picking at people's curbs, where The Price Is Right. And it's a lot easier for a First World Mentality to haggle from the seller's side of the table. But I learned to do a little as a buyer.
Still, nowadays on those occasions when I stop at a garage sale or whatever, I am happy to pay whatever they're asking - haggling is exhausting. (Plus, in the interim I have visited Turkey, Peru and Egypt, where haggling is on a whole other plane - and the other party is desperately poor ... kinda puts you off the whole thing.)
My house, which tends to being full of junk anyway, was more so. With an added bonus: visitors used to get a laugh from the fact that nearly everything had a price-tag (coming or going).
Anyway, babbling on formlessly here (the boss will get after me!), so just a couple observations to conclude.
(1) I used to make enough to struggle along, with an occasional Great Day. But I introduced my sister-in-law and her husband to this profession. And they ran with it... First, her husband was a very aggressive sort, a former hockey player who'd skate into a garage sale, body-check people out of the way, bully the seller into rock-bottom prices and/or just walk off with stuff. But both of them had a natural eye ... which I, alas, lacked. And soon they graduated to the status of *pickers*, not bothering with junk-junk, but going around acquiring old books or something, with a private clientele of sellers and buyers. To hear them talk, at least, they did very well at it.
(2) Going to sales at a frantic pace and looking for scores took a lot of the fun out of what used to be a hobby. I guess I'm just an amateur at heart. Plus, re selling, the loading up and setting out and loading up again got to be a pain. (No matter how much you sell, there's more to pack up than you started with.) Nice to work for oneself, but heavy labor for 20 cents an hour wears thin after a while.
(3) My late husband always claimed that "a couple" meant two, while I use the phrase to mean "a few". So sue me for item 3. But the advent of Value Village provides a surfeit of junk whenever one is jonesing. Plus these days I go to our local dump on the weekends to visit the ReUse Centre, where putting and taking involves every imaginable item, and no money changes hands. Much of the stuff there is boring clothing and household goods, and screen-doors and such, but every once in a while there's something *wonderful*. Like this horse:
And what 'good' is it? Not a question to put to a junk person...but, in this case, it's the star of of the Children's Play Area for our annual li'l fest.
Anyway, I did the junk thing commercially for a couple of years. Did unemployment insurance for a while. Then had to go back to office work...but at least it was an offbeat office, run by old hippies and located in the bush where on at least one occasion I saw a bear stroll by...