Tuesday, May 24, 2011

A Study in Humanity

So this past weekend had me pulling a four day shift at our school's gi-normous garage/jumble sale. (Seriously - we collect every Tuesday all year, it takes two days to set up and we fill three gyms with stuff, some of it designer with the tags still on.) If you've ever moved house, you'll appreciate that two days of unpacking boxes and displaying stuff on trestle tables is physically exhausting, and we didn't finish on Friday till 10.30pm.

The sale raises money for our scholarship fund, which helps families with tuition fees, and is open to the public. Some of the highlights this year involved:-
  • punters walking in wearing skanky shoes, "trying on" the shoes on sale, then waltzing out with them still on.
  • a lady checking out, having her paper shopping bag stapled shut with a "paid" tag on, then looping back into the room to help herself to more. We don't print out itemized receipts so who's to know? (We caught her and firmly explained the procedures - ie. pay for everything.)
  • one lady trying to get me to halve the price on a $100 leather jacket (which retails for over $1,000) because it was a gift for her sister. Hmmm, it's my mother's birthday in a few weeks. I might try that tactic downtown.
  • countless people with a finite amount of cash, having us ring up and bag all the stuff only to discover they'd gone over their limit. (Everything was individually priced, but clearly they can't be arsed to keep tabs).  We were then expected to a) unpack everything, b) wait while they had a group discussion over what should be purchased, and c) keep their running total for them. All while a large queue formed behind them.
  • a woman who insisted I sell her a stroller that someone had accidentally left behind, even when I explained to her why I couldn't. The compromise was that I take her name and phone number and call her if the owner hadn't claimed it by the end of the day. I didn't.
  • and at then end of the day, when we reduced everything to 75% off - the people who were still bartering. Given that we were raising money for a good cause, and not swanning off to Disney with the proceeds, I take a dim view of this behaviour. I mean we had Seven jeans for $4, an Escada suit for $20, and people were still haggling over the price. One guy (paying $3 for a sweater that retails for over $100 and was originally marked at $12), kept throwing $2 at me - out of a bunch of dollar bills. I was having none of it, so he stomped off, leaving his $2 on the table. I ran after him to give it back to him, and he started loudly proclaiming to all and sundry what an honest woman I was! I give up!
Ah yes, it's a study in humanity alright. Talking of which, I'm writing this the day after the sale - doing jury duty, which seems to involve sitting around for 7 hours, receiving a check for $17 (I almost told them to keep it), and mixing with more of my fellow humans than is really necessary after my weekend!

17 comments:

  1. I think what gets me the most is that I seriously doubt any of your shoppers were in any kind of serious need, or else they would have gone to Goodwill or Salvation Army. Which means that, they were there to get bargains and ignoring the fact that the purpose of the venture was to support a charitable cause. And if that didn't already do it for you, I bet sitting in the jury pool for 7 hours curdled whatever milk of human kindness was still remaining in your bosom. You know, I try to have Christian compassion for people, but there is really just something about interacting with the great unwashed masses (referring to behavior, not pocketbooks, here) that makes you want to become a hermit and go live in a cave, doesn't it? Hats off to you for your hard work. Hope you get a good rest this weekend!

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  2. It is despicable stealing from a worthy cause like that. It never ceases to amaze me what people will do to get something for nothing.
    Put your feet up now & have a hard earned rest.
    Maggie X

    Nuts in May

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  3. Oh I'm fuming for you! These people are a disgrace.
    This is one of the reasons I don't like doing Car Boot Sales. I hate the thought of haggling with people over already reduced, cheap items. I'd rather give the items directly to a charity shop.

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  4. Hard earned rest - my mother is coming on saturday!!! Not bloody likely!

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  5. Oh so funny! I remember this debacle from last year and am only disappointed that I never got to experience it first hand. Rather you than me!

    Enjoy your mums visit x

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  6. God that sounds like a complete nightmare - I am going to avoid getting sucked into those at school.

    Funny that everyone was haggling - the other day my German friend tried to bargain with her dentist on prices and got roundly told off by the receptionist. But she had thought it would be fine - because everyone bargains here!

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  7. I used to help in a local charity shop and couldn't believe how many people nicked stuff! The human race can be so pants!

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  8. People's attitudes and harsh behavior are unbelievable. It's a sad statement on human kind. You did well. Be proud of yourself.

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  9. OMG it beggars belief! Do hope that you get a well earned rest soon...or should I not count on it?

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  10. Obviously people shouldn't steal, but bargaining is part of the deal at a rummage sale. If your price is firm, just say so, but don't be offended if people ask. Maybe your emotion about it exacerbated the situation? It doesn't really matter what the original price was, the merchandise is only worth what people are willing to pay.

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  11. So awful! I was selling (my) homemade scones for charity a couple of years ago and was aghast at people trying to haggle 20p off the price. Honestly!

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  12. Lyn - there was no emotion at the time. On the first day I simply stated that everything would be half price the next day if they wanted to come back then, and as I mentioned with the $2 man, I was having none of it, ie. not engaging.
    The point with this rummage sale is that there is usually someone else right behind willing to pay the sticker price, such are the bargains. What's the point of giving things away when you know you can make more money on it?

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  13. This is incredible. What chutspah! And sell her a stroller that had been left behind (did you read in England about the Oxfam shop that sold a bike left outside? )We are an Oakland public school and have to fundraise up to $250,000. I'm always puzzled when people want to get their money's worth. One year a woman wanted our son to babysit for hours on end two small children in diapers, without parents being contactable and with no TV or going outside. He was 11 and volunteered as a mother's helper. When I said this was dangerous she demanded a send her a personal cheque for what she paid the auction for his "services". So I was out of pocket $80!

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  14. outrageous! I would NEVER do that, and I thought I was a bit rubbish. Good cause = pay more, don't ask for change, etc, NOT haggle, cheat, lie and steal! Depressing or what.
    YOu put it well, though
    (excited FINALLY to be able to comment!)

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  15. outrageous! I would NEVER do that, and I thought I was a bit rubbish. Good cause = pay more, don't ask for change, etc, NOT haggle, cheat, lie and steal! Depressing or what.
    YOu put it well, though
    (excited FINALLY to be able to comment!)

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  16. "ooh I know" as Sybil Fawlty wd say. I have same problem when selling the Roma hand made cards (from th e[project I'm involved with)here in Tirana. it's the foreigners who are often worse than the locals haggling over discounts for multi buys etc. "It's for CHARITY I feel like yelling at them!"
    As for the rest, it sounds worse than a Boden Town Hall sale.........

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  17. That does sound incredibly exhausting. And yet a nice place to get first dibs on an amazing sale.

    So you got off jury duty- proper then?

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