Entertainment factor of auctions outweighs the impulse to buy
By June Mathews
It’s no secret that I love auctions, and truth be told, I’m probably a bit addicted. When the local auction houses shut down in December for the holidays, I went into some weird sort of withdrawal. Even though there were plenty of parties, programs and other Christmas-related diversions on the agenda, going auction-less for more than a couple weeks made me feel irritable and edgy, much like I felt the last time I tried to give up coffee.
It’s not like I buy a lot of things at auctions. Oh, I might buy an item or two, but to me, it’s the pure entertainment of watching item after unusual item paraded around the room and the anticipation of what’s coming on the block next. You never know what you’ll see at an auction.
For example, at an auction this past Saturday night, we saw fishing tackle, jugs of liquid detergent, a pair of picnic baskets, antique glassware, old postcards, some Coca-Cola memorabilia, a stack of World War II-era sheet music (which I bought for myself, thank you very much) and a couple old Corvette hubcaps. And that’s not even the tip of the auction iceberg.
Jimmie and I have purchased housewares, books, office supplies, small appliances, pictures and furniture. We’ve bought crystal that turned out to be worth a whole lot more than we paid for it, several hammers (we keep losing them for some reason) and a boxful of scrapbooking supplies.
But I believe our most unusual purchase to date has to be several cigar boxes Jimmie bid on – and won – awhile back, vowing he needed them “to put stuff in.” They currently reside on a shelf high over his downstairs workbench and remain conspicuously empty. I would have quietly disposed of them long ago, except that Jimmie, who often wouldn’t be able to locate his head if it weren’t attached to the rest of his body, somehow knows when his treasure trove of junk has been rearranged, weeded out or otherwise messed with.
So needless to say, our basement is beginning to look like one of the cluttered warehouse units those neurotic bidders do battle over on “Storage Wars.” I can easily imagine an auctioneer throwing open our garage doors and declaring, “Here are the rules, folks. Listen up good. We’re going to open the door, and you’ll have five minutes to look inside…”
Regardless, our lack of space hasn’t in the least dampened my enthusiasm for auctions. But I’ve finally hit upon a sensible way to get my auction fix: Two Saturday nights a month, I work at an auction.
When my friend, David, owner of the Argo Auction, found himself short of a clerk, he asked if I’d be interested in helping out. My first inclination was to turn him down flat. I mean, I’m a words person, not a numbers a person; that’s why I’m a writer and not an accountant.
But when it came right down to it, I couldn’t resist. There’s nothing more intoxicating to an auction addict than having the best seat in the house, and sitting up front is the best vantage point from which to see everything that’s going on.
So early every second and fourth Saturday evening of the month, I climb up to my corner perch, and for the next few hours, record who bought what from which seller and how much each buyer owes.
And while I’m doing my dead level best not to miss a single minute of the action, I’m paying closer attention on the work at hand. Mistakes can be costly for the house, as well as the sellers, and I don’t want to be responsible for losses. Heaven forbid that I get myself fired and be forced to give up that good seat.
The downside, though, is that whenever I’m concentrating on other people’s bids, placing bids of my own isn’t so easy. When it comes to dealing with numbers, my ability to multi-task is nil.
But that’s OK. Like I said, it’s not the buying I enjoy as much as the entertainment factor. But please don’t tell the auctions owners. I wouldn’t want them to start charging me admission.
Contact June Mathews at email@example.com.