The Country Boy told me Friday night that there was an auction he really wanted to go to on Saturday. That left me with two choices:
- stay around a nice warm home but be responsible for dog duties or
- go out in 40 mph gusting winds on a snowy day but be around my honey
I’ll take what’s behind door #2, Monty. (Seriously dating myself on that. Or am I really dating my older siblings who controlled the TV….)
Early Saturday morning, I put on twenty layers of clothing and got ready to brave the day.
Now, truth be told, I liked going to the three or four auctions I have gone to in the past. There is usually a wide range of junk – er stuff – to look at and bid on, plus I like to people watch. There have been a few auctions around home that were old homesteads. Those made me a little sad, especially when they sell off the real estate and break up a farm that’s over 100 years old. I feel like we lose a bit of history when I walk away from those auctions.
This particular auction was in a big city suburb and had mainly equipment that the Country Boy was interested in getting, but the “misc household items” had me hopeful. We took the big, ol’ Ford extended crew cab F-250 with the exhaust you can hear from a half-mile away so we could take back any equipment or things we purchased.
(As an aside, we were passing by a Starbucks on the way, so I asked him to let me pop in for a Venti chai. In a moment of pure vanity, I actually asked him to drop me off a storefront down. Of course I instantly realized that it was a foolish decision – first, everyone heard us before we even pulled into the parking lot and secondly, the fact that I was in twenty layers of clothes including my winter barn boots had me looking embarrassingly like the Michelin Man. I was doing a fine job of making a fool of myself on my own accord without worrying about the impression a monster truck would make.)
When we got to the auction, I made sure that the Country Boy got a second number for me and we both got serious. It becomes instantly clear who the auction pros are as soon as the action starts. They don’t mess around. The auctioneer knows them by name. And they have the best signals and calls.
[voice that starts deep and rises] Yeeeeeeep!
Auctions are great because you never know who is looking at the stuff you’re looking to get. There were the old guys who liked to chitchat while making their moves. There were the young guys who looked away from the action (was that to throw us off?) but signaled with their hand for their bidding. There was the guy in the tattered jacket that was buying stuff left and right. Next to him was the guy in the expensive camel-hair coat who was buying just as much.
The piece of equipment that Country Boy was looking at seemed to be ignored by most of the crowd in the pre-auction time. Unfortunately, there were several lurkers out there that drove the price much higher than we wanted to pay. Oh well.
We did manage to luck out with some tools that got mixed into a lot that seemed unrelated to what they were for. The guy who bid and bought the lot was going for the other items so we were able to purchase what we wanted on the side for the price we were willing to pay.
I lucked out with two old wooden Coke crates (thanks to my Dad’s influence). I channeled Dad and had started talking to some of the people who were around me about 15 minutes prior to the selling of the lot they were in. Turns out the only guy who was looking at the Coke crates was one of my new friends. He said he didn’t want to bid up the price on me so I got them for $10. Who says being nice doesn’t pay?
Then there was the massage table that I thought for sure no one in the crowd that was left at that time would want. After all, these were the scrapers that were going after the copper tubing or concrete blocks. I knew I could get it for a good price for my sister-in-law who just got her massage therapist license.
I was all serious. I watched the pros alllllll day long by this point, so I learned the methods. I let the auction start and the price go way down. Caught the auctioneer’s eye as I made my first bid. Then tried the old head-bob bid technique that seemed to work for the dude who bought tons of stuff. Unfortunately, another guy who looked more contractor than massage therapist stepped in and started bidding it up. We went bid to bid for a long time until he pushed me over my max. I lost the table, but we certainly made sure the seller got a fair price.
The most curious item in the household stuff was what looked to be a beat up drafting table. My new Coke crate friend said he was looking at it as well. But, before either of us could make a bid, two people in the crowd started a bidding war that had the price quadruple what we were thinking of paying. After it was over, we couldn’t figure out what had made that table so special. Turns out, it was from the late 1800’s.
Opps. So much for going auction pro anytime soon.
So, we left there with a handful of garden tools ($12), a box of books ($2), a picture and some yarn that I bought on a side deal with my Coke crate friend ($5), some stuff for the Country Boy, my Coke crates and a huge desire to be an auction maven. All in all, a good day.
Still, you should pity my family. They now have to endure my “yeeeep!” call when they ask me a question.
A pro has got to practice, right?