Of Estates and Sailing

I have fond memories of waking up and going deal hunting with mom. She instilled in me a love for finding the bargain. While I’m not skimpy and I do love the latest gadgets, there is a zen-like joy to finding the $45 item for $3. So when I suggested that K and I do something similar, I was quite excited when she readily agreed.

This morning was, to put it plainly, swell. Or if you want the phrase from the next decade, a hoot! We just had a blast. I had found a single garage sale online, mapped out the route, and off we went. All in all we hit ten sales, from garage sales with just the barest of items, to the moving sales with everything including the kitchen sink, to an estate sale that left us with stories to tell for ages to come. More on the last of those later on.

All in all, we only made purchases from one sale today. I snagged two things: 1, a laptop cooler which sits under the laptop and operates two fans to pull heat off of it (so far it seems to work great.) And second I purchased a director’s chair. Something to be used on the yet to be revealed super-secret-project!

Finding value is the key. K and I had a great time perusing the garage sales, driving the residentially populated suburbs and looking for the child-drawn sale signs. It’s a blast to whip a u-turn after spotting a poorly marked sign. One such sign though led us on a journey neither of us are soon to forget.

Imagine if you will, a sign for an estate sale. JACKPOT! Estate sales are awesome, entire houses marked to sell. Usually. This one was not what you would expect. While the entire house was up for sale, nothing was priced, and it was owned by a family who believed themselves to be royalty. Each doorway was labeled in gold stenciled letters above the jamb with names like “The 24 ct Parlor” or “The King’s Throne Room” or “The Billiard Parlor.” Okay, that’s cute, but it gets a little eerie when you seem to believe it.

The family was a black family, and the matriarch owned, no joke, 300 hats. Every single room had hat stands and her closet had multiple levels of shelves covered in hats. It went beyond the level of funny and into the realm of absolute f*cking nuts. I mean K and I were doing a valiant job holding in the laughter.

The pinnacle of the stop came when we were perusing the rooms and I was drafted by the ladies running the “estate sale” to help them take a piece of art off the wall. The woman in charge was conferring with another woman and said, “Well we’ve got a basketball looking guy up here, maybe we can get him to help take it down.” I kept walking acting as if I hadn’t heard her, but she came up to me a few minutes later and asked me directly. I shrugged and headed down to take care of it. I lifted it off and handed it to the purchaser and then we headed out. This stop was too much.

The moment we got to our car, we couldn’t stop laughing and remembering the items we saw around the house, including the Scientologist pamphlets and tiny bed for the dog, complete with doggie tutu.

Value was not to be found for us in that house. For us. The owners certainly found value in their possessions. And in truth, while we laugh, who are we to judge them? Well that’s a simple answer, we’re us. I hate people who say “Don’t judge.” Of course judge, just don’t let your judgment be set in stone. That’s where the problem comes.

My boss David is writing on the company’s blog about finding value in terms internet startups, and in terms of search engines and search engine optimization. While I knew what SEO was, I didn’t really understand it in its finer workings. The search engines are cold heartless machines judging each and every page on the Internet, looking for value, weight, responsibility, respectedness, links, references, etc. Those who understand that system have an inherent advantage over everyone else on the Internet.

Value is everywhere. Judgment is everywhere.