Alaskan Garage Sales - Bush vs. Road

Confession: Getting pregnant in time for summer in Alaska was a serious tactical error on our part. I don't think in the history of of Hunter and I have we ever been so, well, boring.  We resolved the other day not to do that again. "Live and learn," we said before running though the lame list of things we could do to occupy ourselves that evening. I think we settled on throwing bumpers for the dog.

"I suppose we could get cable and watch TV like everyone else," one of us said. "Supposed we could," said the other. That was the last time we talked about cable television.

Things for Hunter brightened up when moose hunting season began. Since January, Hunter has been planning a moose trip with his Dillingham friend, Tom.  Their conversations started as weekly e-mails, progressed to phone calls and from there, went on to daily chats about favourite spots, camping gear, food and beer, cooler space and engine parts. 

The UPS man started making daily stops to our house a month ago, delivering trip essentials from Cabelas. That worked out well for Milton because he knew he was guaranteed a Milk Bone from said UPS guy at around 4:30 every day. He started to anticipate it and when one didn't arrive one day, looked most aggrieved.  

Last week, Hunter's moose trip preparations began in earnest. Bags were packed, lists were made, hunting tags were purchased...My man was on a mission! Friday morning rolled around and Hunter was out of bed like a shot. In no time flat he was showered, dressed and had the truck running, ready to go to the airport.  (I still think that my man should add his impressive ability to pack a piece of luggage that weighs exactly 49.0lbs to his resume. In Alaska, that's a marketable skill and he is a pro.)

He made it to Dillingham, got to spend the afternoon flying with his friend, Rod, and is now on his way upriver with Tom to his moose hunting "spot." Moose hunting men in Alaska have special "spots." These "spots" are a closely-guarded secret. Heck, I don't even know where my own husband's "spot" is. I do remember him telling me how upset he was when friends of his hunted in his "spot". That prompted me to wonder if men marked their "spot". Maybe like a dog does? That, I think, is a mystery that I shall never solve. 

So that leaves me feeling round and bored in Homer. My neighbour had asked me months ago if I would help her have a garage sale. I agreed - my neighbours are so much fun to hang out with and I though a morning next door would be a treat. So that's what I did this morning.

I admit, I mentally prepared myself for what I thought was an Alaskan garage sale.  I was ready for fights over choice items, professional-quality hagglers and all the trappings of the Alaskan garage sale I witnessed in Dillingham.

Not so. In Homer, there exists a garage sale etiquette that is distinctly lacking in the bush. Being on the road system means people aren't desperate for household items. We can drive to Target. People in the bush obviously can't and that creates an intense demand for second hand household stuff.  

Our Dillingham garage sale was advertised for a Sunday afternoon. People actually started knocking on our door on Wednesday night looking to make purchases. "Oh, we must have read the ad wrong," they proclaimed all innocent looking. Right.

In fact, by Sunday afternoon, we had pretty much everything sold. Not one person came to our garage sale on Sunday - they all came early. My mom warned me about garage sale early birds. I thought she meant that I'd be woken up early by eager buyers, she said nothing about them showing up DAYS early.

Flash forward to the Homer garage sale. It was advertised as a 9:00 start and a 9:00 start it was. I was impressed. It was polite, even (dare I say?) fun. There was no haggling, no arguments and so far, no angry phone calls about items that had been sold.

The angry phone calls surprised me in Dillingham - a skirmish nearly erupted over a chest freezer we sold. Once frenzied phone call went like this: "You had a freezer, why didn't you tell me you had a freezer! I really need a freezer, now!! Who bought your freezer? I want it! Get it back and sell it to me!" We could have at least tripled the price on that one and admittedly, we did ponder what it would take to get into the freezer business in bush Alaska.

I'm heading back tomorrow to help finish off her garage sale.  Sitting on a comfy chair collecting money and chatting with my fellow Homerites is a nice way for a round lady to spend a morning.  It's even better since, as payment for my cash-handling services, the neighbours are feeding me dinner. Yay!

Labels: ,