Many years ago, during high school, I helped my girlfriend Samantha and her mother Barbara with their garage sale. Barbara, an admirer of antiques, had carefully scoured sales such as hers to decorate her house. Her prized possession was a marvelous oak queen-sized bed, lavish in its intricately carved design. Alas, having recently remarried a man who stood 6’5”, with a son on the way and a newly purchased home, a queen bed would no longer suffice and all was to be sold.
In great condition, the bed was priced accordingly.
Barbara would not budge on the price, not for anyone. Soon after the garage sale got into full swing, a lovely lady perusing the wares stopped short upon seeing the bed. Barbara and the lovely lady spoke animatedly about its beauty and Barbara desperately wanted her to have it; but the price was prohibitive.
Barbara mentioned she would work on the price, quietly, as she had just denied a crotchety old man the same consideration. He didn’t want a bed; he wanted a deal so he could turn a profit when he sold it himself.
The lovely lady declined. Even though Barbara was generous in her quote, it was not enough.
I promised my husband. I just can’t.
The lovely lady left; a strange sadness overtook us.
The rest of the sale went along; many buyers admired the bed, but no one bought. About an hour before the sale closed, a man with a gentle manner who kept eyeing the bed finally asked the price. Barbara gave him the pitch about quality and craftsmanship.
It’s beautiful. I think my wife would love it. But we don’t need another bed.
He started to leave and turned on his heel.
No, I’m sure she would love it. I’ll take it.
He paid full price. He said he had the wrong car and had to return later with his truck, could he leave the bed here until then? He left. And that was when the lovely lady came back.
I have thought about the bed all day, I can’t get it out of my head. I understand if you can’t extend the discount, I just need that bed – I love it.
Our collective hearts dropped. “It’s been sold, not a half hour ago.”
As nice as the man was, we all wanted the lovely lady to have the bed. She shook her head and waved off our apologies, taking the blame; it was she who had hesitated, gone against her gut.
“He bought it as a gift.” Barbara offered as condolences. It was just a bed.
Clearly things had happened the way they were supposed to.
We nodded and smiled weakly.
“Leave me you number; if he doesn’t show up for it, I’ll call you.” It was all Barbara could offer. The lovely lady left crestfallen; we felt terrible.
As the sale ended, we started putting the remaining items in a box for Goodwill; each of us secretly praying that the man wouldn’t show up to claim the bed.
We entertained fantasies of calling the lovely lady and hearing her happiness when we said it was hers. Our hopes were dashed when we saw a truck approach and park. The man with the gentle manner emerged and smiled wide as he looked at his bed waiting for him. He paused a moment at the nose of his truck. The passenger side door opened and out came the lovely lady, beaming.