We got there early and there were only four other people there, so we thought we had a good chance of winning the car. As it got closer to auction time, though, dozens of other people showed up. By the time we had signed in, there were at least forty people in attendance. We considered leaving, but decided to stay if only to see what the car would sell for.
Before we walked back to the units, the auctioneer went over the procedure. He told us he would open the door of each unit (there were four units being auctioned) and that we would be able to look, but not go inside. We would not be allowed to touch anything or open any boxes. The winning bidder would take possession of everything in the unit, items would not be auctioned seperately.
We seemed to be the only first-timers in the crowd. I noticed that a lot of the people knew each other. Apparently this auctioneer has a loyal following. It was an odd lot of people, too. I've said it before and I'll say it again. They don't call them strangers for nothing. Some people are just that; strange. There was the guy who continuously snorted and spit loogies, the guy who bit his nails and spat the "shrapnel" without regard to those of us standing near him, the lady talking baby talk to the dog tucked into her jacket, and the guy who darted nervously through the crowd making calls on his cell phone. The last guy, by the way, looked just like Eddie Money. I'm not saying it was....
photo courtesy of Google ImagesSo we finally walked back to the first unit and the auctioneer unlocked and opened the door. Mr. Willoughby and I were standing at the back of the crowd, so we couldn't see much. We were really only interested in the car, anyway, but I still wanted to take a peak inside. As we got closer, I could see a big clear plastic tote filled with photographs. My stomach kind of churned, thinking about how someone's possessions and memories were being sold off to the highest bidder. I just felt sorry for the person who was losing this stuff. Obviously, the crowd, in general, was able to put that aside, but it bothered me.
Aside from the tote of photographs, there was a couch, a loveseat, a bunch of cardboard boxes, some lamps and other assorted household goods. I told Mr. Willoughby that if we could get it for $50 or so, I'd buy it just to return the photographs to their rightful owner. We overheard a man behind us say that he thought the unit would fetch a thousand dollars. We thought he was joking.
The bidding started at $550. I was shocked! Who would pay $550 for used furniture and boxes with unknown contents? Hands shot up immediately. In less than two minutes, the unit was sold with the final bid being $1,100. I would have liked to return those photographs, but not at that price tag.
The next two units went for less money. One had some miscellaneous building materials, and the other had only a tire, a broken home gym and a few odd items. When Mr. Willoughby wondered aloud why the owner hadn't just thrown the stuff away, a man behind us said, "That is what he did. He left them behind so he didn't have to deal with them."
Finally, we came to the unit with the car. Judging by what this crowd was willing to pay for used furniture, I knew we would be outbid on the car. The auctioneer said they had the title to the car, but there were no known keys. He said it wasn't unheard of to find a set of keys in the glove compartment or under a floor mat, but there were no guarantees. Also, there was no way to know if the car would even run. The bidding started at $700 and ended at $1,800. We decided not to bid at all.
I don't know that I would say we had a good time, but it was definitely an experience. I mean, how often to you get to rub elbows with a guy who looks like Eddie Money?
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