A good way to gauge if you’re successful in life is if you wear new clothing, or, if you are forced to wear threadbare fabrics that have been abandoned behind a secondhand store in a strip mall. Sadly, I fall under the latter.
Right out of the gate I want to treat you, reader, to the creepiest thing I’ve ever discovered at Goodwill. It was a pair of wrinkled, little girl panties that were carelessly abandoned on top of miscellaneous pieces of luggage. It was like I came upon a crime scene. I feared that the owner of those panties was stuffed inside one of the duffel bags.
It wasn’t wholly apparent to me that it was a pair of child panties. They were coiled in a twist as if wrung dry of murky river water and then clenched tightly by ham-fisted, middle-aged adult. Initially, I thought that it was a handkerchief and I pinched a corner of the faded, flowery fabric and slowly lifted it before me (don’t ask me why). Soon the tangled cloth unfurled and I thought, “Oh god, little girl panties! My DNA is now on them!” I quickly dropped them back atop the pile of travel bags, and briskly walked away. As I put some distance between me and Exhibit A in a murder trial, I thought, “There’s a very good chance that those panties are going to end up in the wrong hands.” In fact, judging by the breed of people that shop at Goodwill, I guarantee it.
Occasionally there are some decent finds at Goodwill. Take for instance this fine piece of art that I bought for a song.
It hangs conveniently above the chair in my room where I like to reenact the portrait.
But these gems are few and far between. More likely you’ll find tacky oil paint reproductions of quaint cottages that look like they were painted by Thomas Kinkade’s double-amputee brother. And, the vast majority of the framed art are movie posters from at least a decade ago. So, if you want a plastic-framed poster of Speed 2: Cruise Control ironically hanging on your dorm room wall, well then this is your place.
The best piece of art that I found at Goodwill was an 8.5×11 framed caricature drawing of a complete stranger. Who the hell would buy that!?!? I wish I had. I wish I bought it and hung it on my living room wall just for the off chance that the guy who donated the caricature portrait of himself from his family vacation to Adventureland in 1993 might possibly see it featured above my mantle.
A few months back I spotted an acquaintance at Goodwill (well, barely an acquaintance, more a friend of an acquaintance that I really don’t talk to). As soon as I spotted him I bent slightly at the knees to make myself smaller. I then proceeded to search the racks upon racks of button down shirts and suit blazers of deceased WWII vets, all the while keeping one eye trained on him to ensure that he wasn’t heading in my direction—which would force a conversation. Though, to be honest I don’t think he’d actually want to talk to me either. It was two o’ clock on a Tuesday. We were surrounded by depressed, unemployable minorities in a store that reeks like a giant, musty closet. Do you really want to stroll up to me and ask, “How’re things going in your life?”
“How are things going in my life? Well let’s see. I was eying the one-sided waffle iron pretty hard, but I just can’t seem to pull the trigger on that purchase. Also, I was considering adding some additional porcelain cat statuettes to my menagerie but then talked myself out of it since I’d only end up breaking them because I have the tendency to get drunk and pet them for hours until their heads snap off. And currently in my life, I’m standing before the 50 cent used book section where Tony Robbins practically has his own section. Do you grasp the bitter irony of that!?!?”
I occasionally donate goods to Goodwill as well. Though, to say “donate goods” is being overly altruistic. The quality of items that I’m dropping off is perhaps better suited to be donated into a dumpster. I fret a bit when I pull up with my cargo of crap. But, I always breathe a sigh of relief when I see the mentally disabled fellow step up to my car to assist me. Though the guy has the menial of menial jobs, he seems happy as hell, which only serves to irritate me because I wonder what the hell he has to be so happy about, and why he’s a million times happier than I’ll ever be.
With the addled employee assisting me, it’s now become a “judgment free” zone. This gentleman gladly grabs my garbage with a glazed-eye grin while making awkward, polite conversation. His amiable remarks about the weather are met by curt, monosyllabic responses from me. It’s not because I’m an asshole (well, sort of), it’s because I’m still a bit shamed for doing (ostensibly) a dirty deed as I carry my trash into their fine establishment. It would be like trying to make conversation with me through a stall door while I sat on the toilet. Excuse me if I’m a bit tight-lipped.
After the transfer is made, they always asks me the same question: “Would you like a receipt for taxes?” By this time I’m sliding over the hood of my Mazda like Bo Duke, and peeling out of there before they realize I saved a trip to the city dump.
I always wondered how the whole “tax receipt” thing worked. Would we go through the individual items of junk to determine their worth so I could write it off come April? Let’s see…this electronic dartboard is $18.99 new, though I lost the power cord, there are no darts included, and some of the plastic panels are smashed. I’d say that knocks the price down to $14.50. Now the tea stained Lordy Lordy Look Who’s Forty mug is a precious family heirloom. You’d be foolish to sell this for less than thirty dollars, sir. Let’s see here…as for this Presidents of the United States cassette tape, they’re rock legends. Toss this tape into your Pioneer stereo deck and it’s like having a private concert in your mom’s basement. Just a heads up, side two is a series of random songs that I recorded off the radio, so you get a nice eclectic taste of mid-nineties alt rock. I’d say this musical time capsule is worth no less than twenty-eight big ones. The bike pump? I’m glad you asked. The gaskets are dried and cracked, therefore it can’t even collect a baby’s breath of air. And yes, I do understand how the crimson pit-stains of those white under-shirts would lead you to believe that my armpits sweat blood, but I assure you that the stains are from refusing to wash the shirts for unbelievably long periods of time. All in all, I’d say this treasure trove of gently-used goods would sell at a Christie’s auction for ten grand on the low end, and potentially forty to fifty grand on the high end if the right bidders are present. So yes, to answer your question, I’d love a tax receipt.”
Have a good weekend, reader!