Saturday, November 18, 2006

Badwill Day


I got up early to attend a designer sample sale which promised great bargains on cool stuff. I went to one of their other events several months ago and scored some nice things, so I was excited about it.

The sale started at 10:00, and when I got there at 10:20, there was a long line. This seemed strange because they were holding this one in an airplane hangar-sized building on the wharf, a place where all kinds of major events are held. They were letting people inside three or four at a time. Well, okay. Maybe they've had a theft problem. I could wait a while.

After forty minutes, I was about to leave when the two women ahead of me were admitted by the bouncer. I was standing so close behind them that if they had noticed me, they would have thought I was hitting on them. Another woman had crept up in line so she was next to me. As he lowered his arm, signifying that we couldn't enter, I said, "We're all together." He let girlfriend and me in.

They had only about six or seven racks of stuff, very nice stuff, but still. The last show had an entire large roomful of clothes, bags, shoes, all kinds of yummies. And they were letting only a few people at a time into the changing area with a 5-item limit.

I thinned the herds to five and found a space by a full-length mirror for midgets. One item was perfect, a gorgeous cashmere sweater that fit like it loved me. The other things were too big, so I dutifully hung them up again and found the checkout line, which had about 20 people ahead of me, most of them still shopping while holding their places.

Time went by. The line was not moving. The woman ahead of me was fairly tall, which I am not. She reported that there was only One Person checking people out. ONE PERSON. It was clearly going to be a long wait. I debated whether to just leave, or whether to stay since I had already invested so much time in the project. Fifteen minutes more went by. The line didn't move. I had a lot of things to do today. A lot.

I started to drape the beautiful sweater over a railing, but it felt soooo soft. It was VERY good cashmere. Dark red. With a hood. I took it into my arms again. More time went by. Nothing happened. I started to get claustrophobic, or at least, impatient.

Finally, I left. I put the sweater down and left. We were both a little tearful, but the clock had run out. The bouncer seemed surprised as I headed for the door, empty-handed.

"I just can't wait any longer," I said.

He murmured, "I'm sorry." But I knew he wasn't. He probably had his eye on that sweater himself.

I needed to leave so I could reunite with a cherished possession at the Goodwill, if I could get there soon enough. Tuesday, I donated a lot of things, including a large African basket I've loved for years because Flip had pointed out (repeatedly) that we didn't have room for it here. His reasoning was flawless, but I was sorry to see it go. Yesterday, we were in an antique store about 50 miles away and I saw its identical twin, marked $350. Omigod. My basket was worth 350 big ones.

"We have to get it back," I said.

Flip agreed. He was beginning to see the error of his ways. $350 worth of error, to be exact.

The woman running the antique store said it had just come in. When we got back to the city, we drove across town to the Goodwill. It wasn't there. I told an employee I would like to buy it back if it could be located.

He said it had been sent to another Goodwill store, also in San Francisco, so today we went there. We did not see the basket. Someone told me it was probably still in the receiving area down the street, so I walked over there. A very kind man named Jesse assured me it would have been set out the day after they received it. He took me on a tour of the entire operation, which was impressive, so I could see for myself that it was gone.

These people are Organized. They know which truck brought in each item, and they process everything and get it onto the selling floor immediately. Who knew Santa's elves were so efficient?

It was then I realized that the $350 African basket I saw in Petaluma WAS my African basket. How many could there be? No wonder it looked familiar. I've always heard of people who didn't realize what they had until they lost it. I just never expected to be one of them.

Later, we bought Flip a djembe drum from Senegal at a wonderful African store. It's not my basket, but it is from the same continent, and he's going to teach me to play it.

I'll get to Africa yet. I will.

17 comments:

mist1 said...

I have been to a thrift store and purchased my stuff back. I got a much better deal on it the second time.

urban-urchin said...

i had something to say but then i read mist1's comment and now I'm just laughing.

monicker said...

Oh, man, I'm proud of you - I could never let go of a cashmere sweater, especially a red one, and especially if it fit me well.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Mist,

At least you knew where it had been.

Urchin,

She always has that effect on me.

Monicker,

No woolen, no pride.

Odat said...

LMAO..you never cease to make me laugh at your outings...that is too bad about the sweater, after all you went thru...I probably would have done the same thing...and that basket thing!! OMG....that's crazy!!!! I once bought a cast iron piggy bank at a Penn. flea market..for $4.00. I saw the same thing at a NYC antique fair for $300.00!! I asked the guy why it was $300. and he told me "That's what people will pay for it"....said to him "na huh".....

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Odat,

In retail, a thing is always worth what someone will pay for it. This makes sense since there is no objective value on anything, really.

I need to ponder what the lesson is here. First I give up something reluctantly, then I find it but don't recognize it as mine. I go to buy something else but give it up (reluctantly) when the amount of time spent exceeds its value to me.

Lee said...

Surely the moral here is never let your man decorate. ;)

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Lee,

Works for me.

But couldn't you have told me sooner?

katrice said...

I'm sorry. I know how you feel about red.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Katrice,

Well, you can double that if it's cashmere.

I guess we just weren't meant to be.

Crankster said...

My sister has exactly the same problem.

Except she has it with boyfriends.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Crankster,

We all do, sooner or later.

Your sister is special. Don't let her settle for less than she deserves.

Heather said...

Oh man that sucks, on both counts. I hate those "do I stay or do I just give up and leave" dilemmas. Also, I'm inclined toward not being a pack rat, which means I've probably donated stuff worth keeping. I just hope that goodwill got a fair price for it before its huge markup, though I doubt it.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Heather,

I doubt it, too. Baskets typically sell for a couple of dollars there, so the idea of someone buying one and slapping a $350 tag on it is obscene, and also a stellar example of successful capitalism at work.

The markup in retail is always at least 100%, more if they can get it. If I pondered this for long, I could never bring myself to buy anything.

Thanks for your visit.

jali said...

If I can't post ahead of Mist then I'll just stay quiet from now on. It's not fair for one chick to be so funny.

sorry about your stuff - but think George Carlin - 'kay?

Happy T-day.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Jali,

She's all that.

The connection to George Carlin? I'm missing something.

Island Spice said...

I love this story of your basket.It reminds me of a friend of mine who complained about his girlfriend until he left her. Another guy promtly married her. He been kicking himself ever since.
Good luck with your drumming..