I just want things to be okay

This past weekend, my condominium complex hosted a community yard sale. I chose to participate not only because of my decluttering project, but also my need for money.

It did not go as well as planned. The last time I had a garage sale, I made well over $200 and I only sold about half of my things. This time around, I made about $20.

Part of the problem was the demographic. My neighbors have no sense of irony, and a completely different sense of humor.

Among items I failed to sell were a 1999 Rainbow Magic Ken doll, Shaft (the novel), and a board game based on Sassy Magazine. Garage sale gold and no one cared!

Hes a complicated man, and no one understands him but his woman.

He's a complicated man, and no one understands him but his woman.

I was selling a lot of books, and most people just sneered. “Oh. This is mostly books” was the refrain of the day. I met a man who lives near me, and he bought some poetry books and a mystery story anthology from me. We spoke at length about literature, and if it weren’t for that I would have lost all faith in my neighborhood (and perhaps humanity).

I am well aware that many garage sale shoppers like to haggle, but I had never seen the likes of this. There was much quibbling over five cents here and ten cents there, and several people tried to get me to give them things for free. After I agreed to sell a 50-cent book for 25-cents, a woman asked if I would just give it to her since it was “only 25 cents.” I wanted to smack her. My neighborhood is poor, so I imagine people are thrifty, but is all that really necessary?

Another part of the problem was the poor attendance of the sale. There were huge spans of time when no one stopped by at all, and most people didn’t buy anything.

I actually made more money than the other people who were selling things near me. The woman at the next table made only $7. After the sale, I took my $20 to the grocery store and I bought beer for me and baby food for my sick rat. I realize that beer is a frivolous purchase, but after the day I’d had I felt it was necessary.

I have a friend in a nearby town (incidentally not far from where I had my $200 garage sale), and she wants to have a garage sale, too. I’m going to join forces with her this weekend. I know that the people in that area aren’t as cheap and will appreciate my quirkiness.

In addition to my yard-sale woes, I am having problems with unemployment. I filled out three job applications last week, but when I called on Sunday, the phone system would not let me file a claim. I then went to their web site, and got a message that they were experiencing a large volume of traffic and that I should try another time. I called, and tried to speak with a person, and was told (by a recording) to call back later in the week.

In the wee hours of the morning, I tried again. They said that I missed a week and then could not file my weekly claim. I knew I hadn’t missed a week. This happened to a friend of mine with her unemployment, too.

I called and spoke with a lady and was able to file over the phone. I still have not received a single unemployment check, and I was told that it would be three weeks before one would come —if one comes at all. I have negative money in my bank account, and $6 left from my yard sale. My car insurance and renter’s insurance were deducted before I could stop it, so I am overdrawn and I incurred an additional $70 in fees. Oh, well. Someone has to help Bank of America get by. Oh wait –no, the government already did that.

I haven’t paid my August rent. My landlord called me, but I didn’t answer the phone and I didn’t listen to the message. September rent is due soon, and I don’t think I have ever felt such anxiety.

At least I won’t starve. I made a trip to my local food bank, and I was really impressed with their selection. It was my first real visit to a food bank since 2005. When I was laid off in December 2007, I was turned away from this exact same food bank because they just didn’t have enough food. I was able to get an emergency food pack from the West Seattle Food Bank to tide me over. I obtained money through school loans shortly thereafter, and I hadn’t been back since.

I got a tremendous amount of food. I got a turkey breast even though I’m technically vegetarian, spaghetti, rotini, mocha almond fudge ice cream, King’s Hawaiian bread, English muffins, brownies, vegetarian soups by Amy’s Kitchen, pinto beans, garbanzo beans, government-issued tomato sauce (which is incidentally the best tomato sauce I’ve ever had — mind you, I generally don’t like tomato sauce), fresh eggs, cottage cheese, yogurt, strawberry milk, microwave kettle corn, 10 potatoes, 10 onions, asparagus, cucumbers, apples, plums, bananas, macaroni & cheese, peanut butter, and several other things I’m sure I’m forgetting. I was offered some kind of steaky-meat thing and some fish, too, but I left those for other people. I will eat turkey breast, but I will not eat the red meat or the mystery fish. I’ve been eating a lot of spaghetti. After my long-term peanut-butter sandwich diet, I’m not sure when I will be willing or able to eat peanut butter again.

Although there were limited options for people with food allergies, the food bank selection still impressed me. They even said that I could come back this week because I am allowed two visits per calendar month and it’s the end of the month. I may take them up on that just to stock up on non-perishables.

I am getting sick again, which is unfortunate. This always happens to me in times of stress. I’m compelled to begin packing my things in case I need to move out quickly, which is a possibility. I spoke to another recruiter about a good job, but so far nothing has come of it. I sold another book online, but the money is set to go into my overdrawn bank account, so I won’t actually see any cash from it. On Thursday I may go to Labor Ready to find work.

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2 Comments

Filed under Food, health, Home Life, Obstacles, Politics, Work

2 responses to “I just want things to be okay

  1. teambaby

    I hope this is OK to ask, but do you have any family members who can help you out? I’ve followed your blog for a while but I can’t remember if you mentioned anyone still being around and relatively wealthy.

    Other than that, jeez. Sorry. I wish there was some way I could help you out. I wish I were rich or at least debt-free so I could contribute more. I wish our country behaved like the modern nation it claims to be and didn’t let so many people fall through the cracks.

    • Zoe

      It’s okay to ask. My family, though wealthy, is very abusive and they are the absolute last people I would go to for help under any circumstances. They already think I’m the stupidest, ugliest, most worthless person in the world, and are hurtful enough to tell me such. I have been hiding from them for years. Actually, they’re responsible for the chain of events that led to all of this. They also believe that the only reason people are poor is because they are stupid or lazy. I actually felt that way, too — until it happened to me! They thought I was stupid and lazy before I had serious financial problems, so going to them would be the most humiliating thing I can imagine. Friends have suggested I swallow my pride and deal with it, but really I just can’t. I do have some non-crazy relatives in the UK (who aren’t completely aware of my situation, but they know a little). I have dual US/UK citizenship and I mentioned in an e-mail to them that I was thinking of coming over. They were very excited about it and said I’d have a place to stay for a while. It will be a lot of work, though. The UK passport is relatively inexpensive (under $200) but I haven’t had that kind of money around! Never mind plane fare, shipping items, etc.

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