In my neighborhood, some of the neighbors stay to themselves, and I often wonder who they are and what they are like. You can tell a lot about people by the "stuff" they have. For example: If you came inside my house after the first time I invited you in, you would see that I have a lot of cat stuff. Therefore, one could assume I like cats and they'd be correct.
Recently two of these neighbors have had yard sales for the last couple weeks in preparation for moving. Every weekend new items were set out. I went over to one neighbor's yard sale. They had tables set out in their driveway. Everything was set on the tables in an orderly manner with price tags on them. I could tell they put a lot of effort into setting up. Upon chatting with them, I realized by their behavior, straightening things as soon as something was sold that they were orderly people. Perhaps a little overly concerned about neatness. But, I wouldn't complain. It was easy for me to see the things they had for sale. Books were all near other books. All kitchenware all placed together. I learned very quickly that the woman was a librarian and her husband was a bookkeeper. It sort of makes sense. Doesn't it?
I had heard that Peggy and Frank only had a month in which to move from their house. I went over to see what they had for sale in their driveway. I quickly realized that Peggy was a genuine "hoarder" as I looked into the open door of the garage where Frank was pulling items out. Boxes and boxes of unrelated items were crammed to the ceiling. Women's items. Shoes, clothing, hats, etc.
Things were piled onto a tarp in the middle of the driveway. Frank brought out one box at a time and emptied them out onto the tarp while Georgia sorted through deciding what to sell and what not to sell. For the most part, as she kneeled on the tarp, she put items back into the box. Frank came out with another box to empty. Peggy hand back to him the previous box. "Take this back." she said.
"Honey, you know we have to get rid of this stuff!" Frank said.
"I know, but some of this is good stuff, collectibles and such. They are worth something!" She said. I saw him roll his eyes and shrug his shoulders as he took the box from her. "If they are worth something, put a price on them and let's sell them and get this done and over with!"
"I can see that." I said as I picked one up. "Louis Vuitton?"
She nodded and wiped a tear off her cheek as Frank came over with another box. "Don't dump those here." Peggy said. They go over on the dresser there. Those are knick knacks." She started putting purses back into the purse box. Something caught my eye, a purse with cats on it.
"Oh! How much do you want for this?" I asked as I picked it up.
"That's a Laurel Burch. That cost about fifty dollars when new."
"Five dollars!" said Frank, as he came back to us with another box to dump on the tarp.
"No!" Peggy said.
"Ten?" Frank said with a smile his face. I could see that by interacting with us, he was encouraging his wife to actually let go and sell the items she so desperately wanted to keep. She looked at him, frowning, and turned to me,"Twenty."
I really wanted the purse with the cats on it! I was just about to give in when Frank looked lovingly at his wife and said. "Peggy, honey, we can't overprice these things. We've GOT to sell stuff quickly or we are not going to make the deadline to get out of here. You don't want to pay rent on two houses at once. Do you?" He looked at me. "The new place we're moving to is much smaller and doesn't have a garage. There's no place to put all this stuff."
I said, "I understand." I smiled at Peggy, still holding the purse in my hand. "How about fifteen dollars?" She slowly nodded and put her hand out. I gave her the money. She looked crestfallen. I was so sad that this sweet couple were in such a dilemma.
The following week, they had another yard sale, and another. But it was clear to me that Frank and Peggy were not making much headway. After they moved, and were gone a couple weeks, I ran into Frank at the grocery store. He told me they had put the extra stuff into a storage facility. I felt sad for them. After all, it costs money to do that and I doubted they would ever empty the storage.
After seeing how emotionally difficult it was for Peggy to sell her stuff and learning of their decision to put things in storage, I had a realization. It made me face the fact of just how much junk I have sitting around that I don't really NEED!
A local cat rescue group, Project Purr, is going to hold a giant Rummage sale next month. I'm cleaning out my closets, drawers and garage, putting things in boxes. I am donating it all directly to Project Purr. I have already taken three carloads of boxes over to them this last two weeks. And now the car is right half packed with another load.
Thank you Frank and Peggy for opening my eyes to my own tendency to hoard.