46: Getting It Gone

46: Getting It Gone

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Joy of Less


Getting It Gone

Go into the world and do well. But more importantly, go into the world and do good.

~Minor Myers

I was planning another garage sale. I was looking around the basement deciding which objects were to be liberated when I had an awful recollection. The last garage sale I had taken part in a few years earlier had taken days of planning, sorting, setting up and pricing. I had been sure I was going to make a killing. The only thing that came close to being “a killing” that time was my narrowly escaping death due to heat stroke. I don’t think I cleared enough to even pay for the paper price tags I bought.

It occurred to me it might be crazy to try that again. The items I planned on selling this time were usable but not big ticket. There was too much to schlep to Goodwill and not the right kind of thing for the places that pick up clothing and household items, and with shipping costs it would not have made sense to put them on eBay.

I had once cherished some of these things and I had already gotten good use from them. Maybe they could be cherished and useful for someone else now. Did I really care if I didn’t get a few dollars for the lovely Christmas tablecloths that I had used when the family Christmas gatherings were bigger? That’s when it hit me. I could just give these good, but unneeded things away — joyfully, with no haggling, no worrying about donation receipts for taxes.

That Saturday morning I spray painted FREE STUFF on a piece of plywood and dragged it and half my unwanted things out to the driveway. I went back up to my office and started doing some client work. Two hours later, I noticed people poking around starting to take things. Encouraged by this, I started dragging the rest of the stuff out.

That’s when the fun began. When people saw me they started asking questions: Is it really all free? Can I take as much as I want? I offered empty boxes and told them to fill them up. One woman walked up to me, shook my hand and said, “You are the smartest person I ever met. I sat out in my driveway for two days last weekend and only made forty dollars. This is much more fun.” And indeed it felt like a party!

People were so happy. One elderly woman approached me with my beloved Christmas tablecloths in her hand. She actually had tears in her eyes and told me that she always wanted tablecloths like these for her family holiday gatherings but could never afford them. A teacher was thrilled to find a box full of craft supplies she could bring to her students. It was such a display of gratitude and an atmosphere of fun that soon I was going into the house to find more things to put out!

One guy hauled away two lamps and someone asked me if I was worried he was going to profit from them by selling them on eBay or something. I said more power to him — if it meant someone else would enjoy them and they wouldn’t end up in a Dumpster. But that did cause me to make another sign that suggested that if anyone sold my stuff, they should consider giving part of the money to a charity.

By the end of the day I had one lonely box of old LP records left over — poor Dionne Warwick, Barry Manilow and Neil Diamond. Everything else was gone.

Looking back, no amount of money I could have made from those things would have been worth as much as the joy I felt that day. I was able to simplify my life by giving stuff away, and instead of losing part of my history, I got to add new memories related to all those former possessions.

~Geri Moran


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