I’m sitting here on the front steps of my home, increasingly convinced that yard sales are the most awkward form of human interaction possible. Maybe not the absolute worst, but close.Here I am, asking people to come to my house and buy (or just take, for that matter) the things that I no longer want. My crap. Not just crap that’s laying around, but the crap thats been laying around and has simply polluted our space. Now it must be sold to the first bidder because we’ve become so overwhelmingly irritated of moving it around from unused corner to unused corner that we now are willing to give it away to passersby with pocket change. Negotiating a sale in such circumstances is tricky. There are all breeds of yard salers I’m beginning to realize. This only the 3rd event I’ve hosted so I’m still learning.First, we have those that won’t buy anything unless they can negotiate, the Competitive Buyers:“How much?”“Three dollars”“Will you take fifty cents?”Now here you have to stop and think. Is this crap worth more satisfaction to me if I throw it away and tell this person to piss off (it’s just a dollar!), or do I mark it for 1/50th of what it cost and then let it be bartered down from there?Next, there those who won’t barter, the Timid Buyer – just tell them how much, and it’s either too much or too little. Except you only know they’re the type who won’t barter after you’ve stated a price. Too late.“How much?”“Three dollars”, but I’m thinking I’ll take a dollar if they offer.“Oh”, he says, figuratively kicking the dirt. I can see the annoyance in his eyes—he wants it, but he doesn’t like the feel of cheapness that comes from bartering. Maybe someone told him he was cheap once, and he’s spent years trying to prove he’s not (knowing deep inside that he is…)Now I wonder, should I offer to take less? But then if I do, I lose the buyer’s respect. “He’s just desperate”, the buyer thinks, writing me off. Do I care enough about this crap – and lets remember, this is the crap that I cleaned cobwebs off of at 6am this morning – to swallow my pride for a dollar?There exists too a creature for whom the item is not the point, the Bottom-dollar Buyer. This person cares nothing for what they’re purchasing, but rather, feels so powerless in their own life that they must try to get one over on a stranger at a yard sale to compensate.“How much?”“Three dollars”“Would you take a quarter?”“Mmm, well no, but I’ll take a dollar”“Would you take a quarter?”“I’ll take a dollar”“Oh. Ok. But would you take a quarter?”“No, but I can give you a swift kick in the ass for free”. Smile.Not really, but you get the point. No satisfaction unless the absolute smallest amount is accepted. I’m not sure exactly what the feeling is that this brings – superiority, perhaps? Well being? Regardless, it’s enough to piss me off, and I’m really easy-going.Now, should you be wary of this line of thought, please understand: I have sold a lot of crap this morning. I’ve also bought a lot of crap, much of it on my lawn for sale right now, at other folks’ yard sales. The crap just goes around and around. Perhaps there is a certain category of crap that is attractive until it hits artificial light and then the sheen washes away. I don’t know.The cast…The Talker wants to get their social interaction out of this event for the week. Or maybe they’re just friendly. Either way, they’re the ones you want, because their purchase decisions are driven by the person doing the selling, any salesman’s dream. If you’re nice, they’ll buy your crap.The Quiet Person walks around your piles, holding his or her hands clasped tightly at their chest, peering about. This buyer will get something sometimes, but they won’t negotiate usually. That’s asking too much. I try to give them a low price just to move my crap into their house. If you have a quiet person in your office, expect some of my crap to be your Christmas gift this year, ‘cause that’s about right.Interspersed throughout the morning you’ll see the two most annoying species of yard saler, the drive-bys. There is the first type, the Ego, and the second, the SuperEgo. The Ego simply drives by, judging you and your crap and feigning little interest. As they pass – it’s usually a couple – you see their searching, squinted eyes as they scan for worthy items. Usually you won’t want them to stop because should they deign, they’ll transform quickly into the bottom-dollar buyer. For them it’s a power-trip, a hobby to see the hoi-polloi on a Saturday morning, scavenging and scraping the bottom. Until they see a deal, then it’s all smiles.The SuperEgo is usually single and extremely self-aware. He might drive by and feign interest, but will never stop at first. He scans the lawn, knowing full well he wants to stop, but for reasons he cannot understand, he won’t. A few minutes later you’ll see a person walking up the street, car nowhere to be seen. He looks, never making eye contact no matter how pleasantly you say “Good Morning”. If he purchases something, he won’t bargain because that would suggest he can’t afford any price you might set. As he walks away you’ll notice the car he gets into down the street. It’s the same drive-by who didn’t stop just a short while before, only he’s parked where he thinks you won’t see his car and recognize him. What am I gonna do, tell him off for driving by? Don’t hide man, it just makes you look pathetic.Finally, there’s the Stable Personality. Thank them when they show up, because they’re the saving grace, though sadly in the minority. This buyer will talk to you, but not about uncomfortable topics like their grandson’s goiter. And not too much or not at all. They buy if the deal is right, and usually if you’re honest they can tell and will trust you. Give five of these each with a twenty in their pocket, and I’ll give them my entire inventory of crap. Take it away.Here’s the way it usually goes: you (hopefully remember to) place the ad. You carefully mention the time, it starts, 8am is good if you want any sleep, and make the effort to actually note “no early birds”. You pull all of your crap out from where it’s been carefully hidden and blended into the home, so as not to stand out when near the less crappy items. If you’re a student you may not have any of those yet.You get up that morning, shower, and that’s about the time someone will be clomping around in the bushes, knocking on your bathroom window, wondering where your crap is. It’s 6am. You freak, thinking it’s later or knowing it’s not, but either way struggle to get whatever crap didn’t sit out over night, onto the lawn. The Early Bird is there, following you around, looking in your boxes while you’re carrying them, hoping to get one over on the pathetically courteous folks who actually obey requests and rules. These are the people who drive to the front of the line in traffic on the shoulder, then expect someone to let them in. Bastards. If you don’t have you’re crap out fast enough, the early bird will also criticize you for being lazy. If you tell them you set a time and they’re early, they’ll tell you the paper didn’t print that part.By the time you’ve got your crap arrayed in a semi-pleasant manner, the drive-bys have begun. A few Egos will probably pass you by before the first buyer has arrived. Ignore them. (note: if you want to irritate them, pay the extra 25 cents a word and add “Antiques” to your ad, and watch them accelerate off when they see your actual crap).Soon the buyers will begin to trickle in. It’s a good idea to have a few signs up at least a day before to draw word of mouth from your neighbors, too. You’ll likely get a mix of Quiet and Talkers early on after you’ve beaten back the Early Birds. As you burn on into real daylight, you may see a few Stable Personalities show up. Try to unload as much as you can with them, because they’re your gems. Just like seeing a puppy go to a good home, offloading crap to nice people is a good feeling. You may see a few SuperEgo’s wander in, but just let them come to you and pretend you don’t see them. It makes them feel better. You’ll have at least a few check writers among your personalities, but don’t let them talk you into it. Ditto for the Big Bill carriers, unless you keep your ultraviolet light handy. I usually have a local store in mind that’ll be open, just in case they actually want to cash that stuff. “Sure I’ll hold it for you”. For ten minutes, that is.By 10am it’s time to swallow your pride. If someone glances at your crap, offer it to them. Let them name their price – Sold! If you have items you’re uncertain about and can’t part with for a 10th of what they’re worth, they shouldn’t be on your lawn anyway.Results may vary. In my case, by noon I’m hauling out the dumpster to see how much crap I can fit in it. If I’ve got items that’ll fit in boxes and won’t “infect” my vehicle, either with spiders (from the shed) or just dust, then they go to Goodwill. Furniture is tough – too expensive to give away, too big for easy passage to Goodwill – try to get rid of that early. Collectibles go slow sometimes, but they always go. You may want to have a big box in your storage space of choice for yard sale crap to save time next time.Why do we do this if it’s such a nightmare? Well, personally I’d love to just trash all of this stuff, but my conscience won’t let me. Too much waste. But I’m too lazy to actually cart it all to Goodwill, though that will be what happens with whatever is left over. They’ll charge you more for it than I will. So it’s that, and it’s the single item quest – the desire to purchase something that’s just a little too indulgent or unnecessary but “wouldn’t that be nice to have”. For me, maybe an iPod or anything else with firmware; for Michelle, art supplies more than likely. Next time, when we’ve forgotten this time we’ll think,”maybe we can sell some of this shit lying around to buy something we don’t really need but really do want…”In case you’re wondering, I’m an Ego yard-saler, semi-retired. Yes, I understand the hypocrisy, but I don’t care. My crap deserves better.