Sunday, September 14, 2008

Wet and Not Wild Weekend Ends

Some people look forward to the weekend. I know that I used to, but things change.

A farm has a magnetic ability. It attracts things. The various barns and buildings down here have accumulations of items that would boggle your mind. Everything from antique wooden crutches to an old fire department ambulance. The usual and unusual farm debris.

Game plan was to get some of the various 'collections' together and take them to the flea market Saturday. Sell what I could, talk with some of the other folks and drive home with an empty truck and a pocket full of cash. Call it 'Spring Cleaning, the Late Version'.

Hurricane Ike kicked into Texas, sending water and economic shock waves throughout the country. I was late getting to the flea market, but I could tell when I pulled in that it was not going to be a good day. The place was empty.

I made the rounds, talking to various vendors. People who sell livestock, used clothes, old books, everyone a specialist. The usually crowded aisles were quiet, no throngs of people, just scattered clumps of families wandering around the tables.

The frumpy woman selling used clothes shook her head. Nothing good about the day. I asked her if there was any particular sizes that she was looking for, what was selling. There's something depressing, end-of-the-line about used clothes. She wants more men's work clothes, in my size. I shook my head, told her that I wore my clothes out, then used the remains for cleaning car parts and farm equipment.

One of the livestock vendors cruised by on his electric cart, paused for a moment. He gave me that, "Where you been?" look. The semi-disgusted one. There are a couple of old animal cages sitting in the barn. I need to fix a hinge on one, put a brace on the other, been meaning to do it for a couple of months. He gets first crack at buying them. After he whirred off down the path, I excused myself. A late start and more people to catch up with.

Need any bicycle parts? There are probably 2,000 pounds of new and used stuff out in the barn. Almost all of it is thirty years old.

I stopped and talked with one of the old men who used to fix and repair bikes. Now he and his wife sell used toys and some bikes in their indoor booth. He didn't have any bikes today. Told me that he was getting out of the business. Too much work for too little profit.

I showed him the bike parts that I brought with me. Good stuff, but he had no use for them. Asked about the man who rented the next stall over. He also kept a few bikes for sale.

The old guy shook his head, "Closed down, going to fix bikes at home and try to sell them from his garage." He pulled out his wallet, gave me the guy's card.

He had another old man in his booth, who spoke up and told me about a guy who was now getting into fixing bikes, just down the road a few miles. Got his info, thanked the man, excused myself again and headed out the door. This was getting grim.

Went over to the tool man. New and used stuff, everything you need for the home or shop. I had three coils of used air hose. He had no use for them, but another vendor who was talking to him wanted to see what they looked like. Took him over to the truck, he inspected the air hose and we negotiated the sale. After we agreed on the price, he fumbled his wallet from his bib overalls, pinched out the bill and handed it to me. We did the "Thanks...I appreciate it. See you later." exchange as is common amongst country folks. He scooped the coils of rubber hose up and walked away.

It had been over three hours and I looked down at the ten dollar bill in my hand. With the dollar that I got from the used clothing lady for a pair of kids boots that I sold her, I had made $11 dollars. You could say that it wasn't worth loading the truck, much less spending the time and gas to make the trip. I got in the truck and drove over to see the camo-man.

He sells surplus military stuff. Knives, targets, old ammo cans. Friendly guy, everyone knows him. They stop by to shoot the breeze, catch up on the latest flea market gossip. Everyone talks about the weather, the usual farmer stuff. Now with the elections, add in the spice of politics.

Politics are pretty much a sore subject, with the economy doing its swan dive. Hurricane Ike was giving us some high winds, also pushing up gas prices. As the day wore down, prices keep moving up. Rumor? Fact? Fear? A man from Alabama told me that he had seen $5.99 per gallon at a station. Another just in from town said that it was up to $5.11 at one of the discount stations. There were no happy campers.

The forecast for the rest of the night was rain, high winds and possible tornadoes. We turned eyes toward the sky when gusts would knock things over on the sale tables. Spooky weather, odd clouds.

The lady across the aisle was selling DVDs and music CDs. I looked over her wares and made my big purchase of the day. Since there's no TV in the house, I watch a lot of movies. An old classic caught my eye, "The Last Time I Saw Paris". Something about it stuck in my head. I looked up and down the table, came back to it. Old movie, 1954, Elizabeth Taylor, Donna Reed, Van Johnson, Roger Moore, Eva Gabor, Walter Pigeon, a cast of great actors...shrink-wrapped in the world's smallest cardboard cover. All for a quarter, that's right, 25 cents American.

I asked the lady if the price was correct. She didn't know, it was her friend's DVD, but it looked right to her. You could tell by the 'period' in front of the 25. I dug a couple of dimes and five pennies out of my pocket, handed it to her and went back over to the camo-man's table with my new treasure.

We discussed bicycle parts. He's into riding now, trying to lose weight. I left a couple of new bike seats and other parts with him. Just to see if he could move them. Never hurts to expand the inventory.

There was nothing else to do. The only traffic was from other vendors, trying to sell their wares in a last ditch effort to make a few bucks, pay for the gas it took to drive to the market.

I headed for the house. It looked like rain and the mood was more down than up.

A tropical depression, an economic depression and general social depression.

The three together don't make for a wild weekend.

One thing about being on the bottom.

You can only go up from here.

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