23 June 2013

FEC The Sale


Before dawn cracks on the promise of a fine June morning, FEC is a stirring nest of semi-somnolent gray faces. The insomniacs have a head start, of course. It's the annual yard sale day. Oh, what a righteous feel to the un-hoarding and de-cluttering of our tiny homes. The added benefit of being a more or less social event carries the responsibility of special wardrobe planning: popular choices are preposterous hats, hippie skirts, and Bermuda shorts saved since you were a teenager (and about 30 lbs lighter). Henri adds some class in a moth-eaten tux from his Noel Coward days.


During the transition of boxes and armfuls of clothing from all floors, a few tempers let loose on who is hogging the elevators and whose turn it is for the dolly carts. Numerous cups of coffee downstairs improve the general facial pallor and the inmates residents muster their sidewalk sales tables in what will become steady blazing sunlight. Not too much pushing and shoving to grab a table that might promise a little shade later. Minor quibbles are resolved amicably—the concept of cooperation and best behaviour is still fresh.

But Helen with the vampire eyeliner is casting evil glances at Ms Etoile who snagged the table closest to the street corner, a prime spot according to yard sale analytical studies. Monica is miffed because Ophelia is also selling homemade organic jams. We know Monica can only keep the lid on so long. Jeremy flits around in his best Pride costume, assisting fellow inmates participants with their displays. He bypasses Dominic whom he's certain is selling bootlegged CDs. McElroy comes by in his scooter to hoot loudly and denounce capitalism. He gets such howls of outrage he decides to do it several more times.

Little shrieks of pleasure erupt as passersby inspect the approximately 9,238 pieces of costume jewellery on the block-long display. Passersby include most of the entire neighbourdamhood who are having their own competing yard sale on the next block. Mr. OCD is a conscientious monitor and hustles them on by, no price fixing under his watch. Besides, we want the visiting suburbanites to have a clear field. Mr. OCD is wearing trendy cut-offs and a hat made of aluminum foil, confirming some suspicions that he's in touch with extraterrestrials. However, this crowd does not seem to be in the market for 1950s clothing.

Excitement threatens to disturb the afternoon doldrums when Archie, the resident schiz, joins us dressed in a fisherman's hat with lipstick smeared over half his face. A sure sign he ditched the meds again. Snatching one of Sheila's wigs for sale, he adds it to his hat. He doesn't have a sales table but he decides to sell his jeans and removes them on the spot. The spontaneous comedy of errors fades when a nice uniformed constable deftly captures his attention. Where is Sharon the official FEC photographer when we need her? Where is Thomas the Brave with more coffee?

     Hours later, end of the day, the FEC contingent is uncharacteristically quiet, wilting in the heat, sunburnt, snuffling from pollen allergies, with considerable piles of unsold goods. Sally has obviously bought more stuff than she sold and we think she treacherously snuck off down the next block to get most of it but she's close to 90 so no-one is going to start accusing. Even Mr. OCD disconsolately surveys his table of retro plastic toys. Collectibles, he says. There will have to be an Inmates Committee meeting about this. Time to head to the pub.

Another day in the feckless life.

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