Monday, June 9, 2008

Garage Sale Find

LEGO pieces and sets don't often end up in garage sales. And so I didn't have high expectations when I accompanied my wife to tag sales in our neighborhood this past weekend.

Case in point, when I was cleaning out my childhood closet before leaving for my move to Kansas City, my mom encouraged me to throw away or donate everything and anything I touched- with the notable exception of the tub of LEGO pieces. Those will be kept for grandchildren, whenever they appear in the picture.

Late Saturday afternoon, my wife and I approached an estate sale. We first entered the garage, where a portly man in an ill-fitting cowboy hat was testing a hand held chainsaw. We didn't linger. When my wife hesitantly asked "Do you want to go in the house?" I surprisingly agreed.

Inside, close to 20 people sat picking carelessly through a lifetime's worth of collections. TWA prints and model cars were stacked haphazardly on folding tables. The stale air and pink carpet left me feeling claustrophobic, but like someone bewildered in a blazing home, I wandered away from the front door and further inside the house. Clothes and price tags hung from furniture bunched together to leave narrow aisles into the two bedrooms on the first floor.

Plenty more upstairs! declared the Sharpie-stained paper on the stairs. The temperature rose as we climbed into a wood-slatted top floor with a finished bedroom. Oxford shirts hung on racks and I couldn't help but wonder what the former owner did for a living. My wife and I threaded our way to the back of the attic, where another couple was testing the integrity of caned wooden chairs by repeatedly banging them into the floor.

I was ready to pack it in as I felt the first small bead of sweat form at the base of my neck. But then my wife said a magic word.

"Look honey, LEGOs."

I bent near a corner to see four different sets: a set of pull-back racers, two Star Wars-inspired boxes, and an oversized container for Life on Mars- which featured a series of interconnected tubes and LEGO aliens. The box promised over 700 pieces and was $15. I immediately backed away and pretended to be disinterested. I then bent down for a closer look while telling my wife I probably wasn't going to buy it. This is what I do when I really want something. It's as if I'm negotiating with an invisible vendor. But in truth, my mind is whirring as I consider what will happen when I buy it.

I snatched up the oversized box and my heart raced a bit. Three minutes later, we walked out $16 poorer (a glass pitcher adorned with dinosaurs called out to me) into the cloudy afternoon.

1 comment:

Andrewnuva199 said...

I managed to get that Life on Mars set off ebay for half the origina asking price (had to give my dad half my allowance for four months, but it was worth it). As the centerpiece of my favorite LEGO theme, I was overjoyed with it, espically with the fun tube system and the rare minifigs.

I haven't had any garage sale luck in LEGO terms (besides a box full of 1998 cross-theme puzzles), but I have frequently struck it rich at thrift stores. Biggest find was a large plastic container full of parts (including 1995 Space shuttle elements and an Islander chief helmet!)