Bright and early each Saturday morning, I set out on a quest, as I have every Saturday morning for the past 35 years or so. (I also set out IN a Quest – I drive a Nissan Quest van). I am part of a quirky little subculture of people who scour the local neighborhood in search of treasures, like ants swarming upon a candy bar on the sidewalk. I am a treasure hunter, a bargain seeker, a “yard sale-er.”
What is it that motivates me to seek out sometimes as many as 30 or 40 yard sales on a Saturday morning? Is it a fascination with Other People’s Junk (OPJ)? A chance to compete for the Guinness World Record for seeing the most baskets, figurines, glassware and luggage in one morning? Is it the opportunity to see the widest array of “toe covers”? (“Toe Cover” is a phrase coined by writer Betty MacDonald* to describe hand-knitted, crocheted, or crafted items which are almost completely useless and generally not very attractive. When she was in the hospital, the recreational director taught the patients how to make covers for their toes.)
Actually, all of the above are more deterrents than motivators. So why do I cruise yard sales on Saturday mornings? I’ll tell you in a single word: serendipity: the joy of finding something wonderful and completely unexpected!
I’ll give you an example. For many years I was seeking a couple of books by a particular author. These books were decades out-of-print, and extremely rare. They were sometimes listed on eBay and used book sites, but were usually priced from $115 to $235 each, and still are today. I wanted the books, but didn’t want to have to take out a second mortgage to buy them. Then one Saturday morning, I walked into a man’s garage. This sale was sad. An old fan, a couple of comforters, a few baskets, and then, off in a corner, I saw a small box with three books in it. Two of them were the books I was seeking. I paid 25¢ each for them.
That kind of wonderful surprise will fuel a hundred more Saturdays! The rare, the unusual, the unique, the unexpected, the wonderful – the joy of discovery. Serendipity.
May you know the joy of many serendipitous moments in the days ahead!
*Betty’s books are wonderful! Her “The Egg and I” is the precursor to the Erma Bombeck style of humorous writing. And her “Mrs. Piggle Wiggle” children’s books are fun for early elementary age kids. The reference to toe covers is from her second book, “The Plague and I,” chronicling her fight with tuberculosis – a fight she eventually lost.