19 May 2007

an anthropological study of "garage sapien"

We had a garage sale today. This is my first one since, oh, the junior high days. I admit I was a little nervous about the whole thing because I didn't think we had enough stuff and I was afraid that our relatively remote location would be hard for people to find.

Nah, they sniffed us out like bloodhounds.

I stayed back while Kristen set up the signs. Seriously, it couldn't have been two minutes after she left that she diverted a steady flow of "yard sale junkies" (the term "junkies" is employed loosely here) in my direction. Most of them executed the "drive-by" technique -- this technique is the embodiment of the inference that the size of the sale is indicative of the quality of the items being sold. Really, this is quite the rich sub-culture (the term "rich" is employed loosely) with rules governing everything from the standard price of magazines and VHS tapes to the politics of haggling. I offended one person for asking too much for a magazine and I offended another person for asking too little too quickly for a stack of books. Apparently I robbed him of that precious sense of triumph that can only come from talking someone down from $2.00 to $1.50. My very last customer of the day, as luck would have it, told me about all these rules.

Here are some of the other highlights with our "garage sapien" buddies:
* A man walked into our garage (while we were talking with other customers) and began to sift through our belongings, which were clearly not for sale. His mongrel dog followed suit and began to eat our Gandalfo's breakfast sandwiches, which were clearly not for canine consumption.
* I had more opportunities to practice my Spanish today than I have in the last two years combined. I met some awesome folks from Peru (where my little sister Christina was born). This nice Peruvian couple said that they wanted to cook me some Peruvian cuisine -- something involving "lots of shrimp".
* I got a big hug from a nice lady when I gave her son (a new philosophy major at BYU) a good deal on some philosophy books.
* Someone stole the nice camera we had for sale, but left the nice case that came with it. We gave it to a girl straight out of the "Teen Girl Squad" who wanted to use it as a purse.
* Only AFTER I sold my handheld tape recorder did I realize that I forgot to erase some embarrassing clips of me singing.
* An old man (decked out in biking apparel) pulled up on his bike, parked it, and took a quick glance at the pile of free stuff at the front of the driveway. After a few seconds, he mounted his bike and said to me, "I'm gonna be riding this bike all day." Then he drove away, leaving me with a funny mix of puzzlement and admiration.

Overall, it was a smashing success. The best part of the day was when Kristen, in her exuberance over the amount of money we managed to make with the whole affair, accidentally gave me permission to spend $30 on books.

And that's why the quote of the day comes from Amazon.com.

Here's the "What in tarnation?!" quote of the day:

"I think the human brain is highly overrated."

-- a reviewer on Amazon.com


Russell said...

Just in case your sentiment regarding Garage Sapien isn't entirely positive, I would like to remind you that the entire Porter female clan are card-carrying members. When Saturday rolls around and there are 2 or more gathered together, there the Garage Sale is, in the midst of them, as it were.
Incedentally, how do you feel about using plural conjugations of verbs for collective nouns? Some people say, "The first presidency are united," while others say, "The first presidency is united." Where do you stand?

Russell said...

Who's that a picture of? Should I know?

daniel said...

1. Collective nouns: in practice, I think it depends on the situation. For example, if I'm talking about the first presidency as an entity (e.g. "The first presidency consists of the prophet and his two counselors."), I will use verbs appropriate to the entity in question (i.e. the above example is "the first presidency consists of" instead of "the brethren in the first presidency consist of").
However, when I talk about the first presidency as a collection of men, I might get into to trouble if I assign the appropriate verb to the entity rather than to that of which it consists.
For example, I would say, "The first presidency are eating at the Joseph Smith Memorial." I wouldn't say (or perhaps shouldn't say), "The first presidency is eating at the Joseph Smith Memorial." A first presidency isn't a biological organism and shouldn't be referred to as eating something.
That seems right to me.

2. The picture: It is of the death of Socrates.