Monday, October 19, 2009

Flea Market

Yesterday my dad and I woke up at 4:30 am to set up a table at the flea market. In order to get the best spot you have to arrive before 5 but we didn't make it. We had an ok spot and despite it being 35 degrees in the morning we did ok.

In this picture you can see the dollhouse that my grandfather built for me. I decided to let it go because it was old and ratty and just sitting there for too many years already. I figured that it would make a little girl really happy. Dollhouses are like $150 brand new and might be a luxury item for those without handy grandfathers. To my great dismay I came back from the bathroom to find that my father sold it to some woman for her chihuahua. She did not want the box of furniture that it came with obviously so I worked hard to push that on every mommy there. Ugh.

There are really some characters that come to these things. Vultures. Scavengers. It's impressive. Some people pay extra to get in before the damn place technically opens and go through stuff in people's cars. One guy was looking through my dad's record box of 45s at 5:30 am and actually asked me if he could insult me on the price. They were 50 cents a piece.

I thought we were doing well for a while there. Several guys inquired about our curtain rods and coax tv cable my dad was trying to get rid of. Several paperback books sold but we hardly had anyone grab a hardcover. They were a whopping $2 each but they were all history books my dad likes and he didn't want to sell for less. At some point two very tall young men were looking at the hardcovers and one looked at me and said, "Two bucks?" I nodded. He pulled out the money and as if it happened in slow motion I realized that standing before me were two bald heavily tattooed men wearing tall boots and the one who bought the book was wearing a ring with a Maltese cross on it. I froze.

Dad. We just. Took money. From a. Nazi.

No honey. He's just interested in history.

Dad. He's. A. Nazi.

No no honey. Well maybe he is. But don't let it bother you. He's an idiot.

I have replayed this moment in my head several times since. What do you do? Do you ask? Do you stick up for yourself?

"Excuse me sir, but are you a Nazi? If so I can't sell you anything."

"Your kind isn't welcome in our flea market space."

"Sir please put down The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich and step away from the folding table."

This experience soured me on flea markets. Next time I have stuff to get rid of I will just donate.


  1. This is brilliantly written! The truth is that even if you donate you don't know what kind of person will be getting your things and what they plan on doing with them.

    This struck me, because before reading it on the same day I was riding my bike from work thinking about my favorite play I saw in high school. It was called, "Race." I remember the issue raised which still stays with me.

    One of the characters is a blatant racist and is more than open with his hate by using strong words throughout. At the end the quiet, nice man you root for until the point reveals he's a racist by getting into a conflict and letting one word slip. You're shocked! You actually hate him more than the obvious racist.

    So the point is which form of racism is worse? The secret quiet ones you think might be nice, normal guys or the loud, unapologetic ones? I love considering this.

    So is selling something to a Nazi wrong? Probably, although you cannot profile at a flea market. My guess is you sold things to people who might also have negative traits hidden that could be on the same level or worse.

  2. Any entry with both "dollhouse" and "Nazis" and tags has got to be worth reading. Wow. What a great entry. If it makes you feel better, I have the same dilemmas when I watch movies made by certain people or books written by certain people. I don't know where the line is between interacting with someone who happens to exist and supporting their beliefs.

    (By the way, give me a call if you get time. I have some exciting news for you.)