The Golden Ticket (and what it took to get it)

“You are out of your goddamned mind!”

Not exactly the support I had hoped for when explaining my plan for this Friday to The Missus.

About six weeks ago, a company that does massive estate sales posted early pictures as to what was going to be present at a sale that kicks off at 9 a.m. Friday. I had made it a policy to avoid estate sales after my last few escapades had yielded a ton of shit that costs a decent amount of money and was slow in turning around. Still, I’m always on the look out for a good bit of luck and some nice dishware for The Missus. It turns out she grew a fetish for a Depression-Era glassware known as jadeite. Turns out, Martha Stewart had just done a big spread on it and she loved it.

“If you see any of that out on your shopping trips, could you pick it up?” she asked in that sweet and hopeful way that says “I love you” and “If you want to keep doing this, here’s an excuse that won’t make me want to kill you.”

Of course, I knew nothing about it, but as an intellectual, I attacked the problem with the idea that knowledge gain would be best. I bought about six guidebooks on this stuff, dug around on the Internet and kept looking for it at estate sales and flea markets.

The shit was ridiculously expensive. When Martha likes something, so do collectors.

Thirty-five bucks for a fucking plate? With a crack in it? Oh well…

Some savvy shopping, good digging and some luck later, she had a cabinet full of light green bliss. Still, you can’t wave off a hunting instinct just because the hunt is over and people are full. There are worlds to conquer, dammit.

Thus, I found myself sorting through the pictures this company posted online.

What I came to realize early in this set of photos is that they were clearing out a hoarder’s home. The place was piled with shit. The thoughts of what might be crawling under those mounds of crap had me thinking, “No fucking way.”

Still, I thumbed through the thumbnails until I noticed a copy of an old Green Bay Packer program. Then another. Then another. Good stuff, but I could probably live without it.

Then, I found a picture that had my heart in my throat and my stomach in knots for about six weeks.

To the untrained eye, they were scraps of paper. To me, it was like unlocking the Ark of the Covenant.

The Bible talks about the man who finds a treasure in a field, so he goes and sells all he had and buys that field. When he returns, he rejoices over the treasure and what it has brought him.

This parable was swimming through my head as I quickly Googled some information that I intuitively knew. The image was as clear as a bell and right as rain. The four scraps of paper scattered in the middle of this image were ticket stubs from 1959. They had info about the Packers on them.

They were the first four games Vince Lombardi ever coached in Green Bay, all four wins.

I did a quick search to see how rare they were and what they were worth.

Only one had been found. The first game. Certified. At auction: more than $500.

A unique item in the purest sense of the word.

It was then became determined: I had to have them.

And thus, I revealed to my wife how I planned to get them: I’d camp out in my car overnight and be the first person in this house.

And this is how I find myself in the driveway of a stranger in Kaukauna, Wisconsin at 11:30 p.m., waiting eight hours for a chance at a piece of history.

Here’s the running diary. As I write this thing, I don’t even know how it will end as I’m writing it in mostly real time. Typos will be likely. Verbiage will be wild. Click on at your own risk.

7 p.m.- Spent much of the day the same way I’d spent the last three weeks: Stomach in knots, horribly distracted and vaguely aware of these other people living in my house. About 10 minutes after she got home, I realized my wife was in the house looking for dinner that I’d forgotten to prepare. We settled on a run to the store for Mac and Cheese and Sirloin Burger soup. The reasons were obvious: She wanted me to eat and the Midget was the only one who could make a decision.

8 p.m.- Spent much of the last hour doing what I normally do when I can’t stop obsessing about something: I channel my inner Monica Geller and start cleaning like a mad fucking idiot. I finished about the fourth load of dishes I’d done in the past four days. Every stitch of clothing we owned was cleaned and pressed. Our kitchen was spotless and the Midget’s room was in great shape, relatively speaking. Say what you want to about my obsessions, but you’ve got to admit there are positive aspects to them.

9 p.m.- Conversation between me and the Missus:

“I’m not trying to tell you to go, but what time do you think you’ll want to leave here?”

“Uh… Thinking 11. Figure I’ll get there by midnight and get some sleep.”

“You think you can hold out that long?”

I sneered at her and went downstairs. I was gone in an hour.

10 p.m.-As I’m getting ready to go, the Missus gives me this one:

“Do you know anything about the neighborhood you’re going to?”

Uh… No… Why?

“You could get killed or something. It might not be safe. Are you sure about this?”

I was… Until suddenly on top of the paranoia about not getting these tickets, several programs, some bobble heads, maybe the seat from Miller Park and the giant set of Jadeite dishes, now I’ve got to worry about some strange fucking weirdo coming by my window and knocking on it like the bag lady in “Final Destination 2,” which just happened to be on earlier that day.

Great… Well, maybe I’ll freeze to death first…

10:10 p.m.- I’m out the door and driving to Kaukauna. The night before, the Midget had been regressing with an illness she’d been suffering and we decided I should cancel class for Thursday. Of course, the next morning she was fine, but I’d cancelled so I went to work after getting two hours of sleep, thanks to an inordinately late production night. So, for the record, I’m going to be going about 72 hours on about 2 hours of sleep, if I can’t sleep in the car, which has never been my strong suit.

10:30 p.m.-Stopped for the final requisite pee break before heading over to the house. The deal with a sale like this is first there, first served. If you’re in line, you get the best spot. You can wait in the car, but if you leave, you lose your spot. In one of those “just in case” moments, I loaded a whole case of the Missus’s quart-sized canning jars into the back seat. I’m hoping it won’t come to that, but better to be safe than sorry. I just hope she doesn’t find out about it. Wait… I just published this to the Internet. Shit, no wonder my kids have trouble trying to keep pictures of themselves drunk as hell off of Facebook. The Web is such a homey place.

11:20 p.m.- I’m getting close to the house and all sorts of paranoia is kicking in. What if I’m not first? What if I get killed? What if? I tried working through my weirdness with my shrink on this issue. Turns out, his only answer was, “Well, this will pass. You know you just have to get there early and you’ll be OK.” Great. Found out that this guy charges about $140 an hour. For that. And state employees are the ones who are robbing this state blind?

11:38 p.m.-Got here. FIRST! I pulled into the driveway. Every light in the house is on and it’s the only house in the neighborhood with lights on. At least there’s some light out here. The sale peopl are great people, very cool, lots of fun. Still, all business. They’re the kind of people who run a fair sale and treat you well enough that you’d feel horrible trying to bribe them to let you in early to get what you want and get the hell out of there before the morning. Seriously. Not even a joke here. Now I just have to wait for morning.

11:52 p.m.-The seller lady just went out to her car to get something. She saw my car parked behind her husband’s and gave me a wave. At least if I do get abducted by some local Kaukaunian ruffians, she’ll know to call the cops.

Midnight:The little calendar thing clicked over to Feb. 17. Almost there. The Drive is doing “Ultimate Album Side at midnight.” Tonight’s classic? Pink Floyd’s “The Wall, Side 1.” They play it on vinyl, which is really amazing. I always love the crackles and pops of a good album. I miss my record player some times. I bought a portable one with swing out speakers and a drop down turntable at one of these sales one year. I knew it didn’t work, but I managed to get some replacement parts and give it a run. Got close a couple times, but it eventually died. It’s still way too cool to toss, but in no shape to run. Thus, it, like so many things I don’t know what the hell to do with, is taking up space in the laundry room.

12:15 a.m.-Tried sleeping. That worked for about 15 minutes when the guy seller came outside to start working on the garage. The light from the garage door opener is blaring into my eyes. I watch him look for something in a giant box of wires. He eventually gives up and closes the door. I’m giving this sleep thing another shot.

12:23 a.m.-Almost asleep when I hear a car roll up on me. Figured it was a cop. Then I figured it couldn’t be. Or at least what the fuck is he going to bust me for? Sleeping in a driveway when I have permission to do so? I look back and see two people looking at the sign for the sale. I hear one of them saying something about coming back. They then drive away. Am I the only fucking weirdo who is treating this like I’m getting Stones tickets?

1:57 a.m.- Good nap. Someone pulled up in front and is finally staying. Second person in line.Game recognize game, dude, and you looking kinda unfamiliar.

2 a.m.-As is the tradition with most mornings, it’s the bladder that wakes me up. Despite my best efforts to drink almost nothing after 8 p.m., I gotta pee. OK, into the back seat with a jar…

The glass is freezing cold and it’s dark. Add that to the fact there’s now someone else around here and so I’m having performance anxiety and this has all the makings of an episode of “Family Guy.” I’m lurching around in the back seat, keeping all of this business going on under the edge of my parka. The bucket seats are uneven and I’m trying to stay on my knees. The last time I found myself this uncoordinated rolling around in a back seat, I was in high school and there was a girl asking, “Are you sure you’re doing this right?”

2:14 a.m.-After much debate, I decided to go meet the neighbors. I took the walk out to where the guy was parked and tried explaining the concept of a pre-list to him. It wasn’t going well. He was suspicious:

“You started the list or your company did?

“I’m not a company.”

“You mean you do this by yourself? You take credit cards?”

“No, dude. I’m not with them. I’m just the first guy in line.”

“So there’s a line?”

“Uh… Yeah. And I’m first.”

“Are you waiting on the porch?”

“Look. I started a list since they basically let us police ourselves until it’s time to sign up. If you want to get in line and stay warm in your car, that’s fine. If not, I don’t give a shit. I’m trying to help you out here, but you can just be whatever you want to be.”

Went back to the car figuring it was a mistake.

2:21 a.m.- Knock on the glass. It’s the guy.

“So what’s with this list thing?”

“I’ve been at these things before. If you want to stay in your car, you put your name on that list and you stay here until they come out at 7:30 and they’ll call your name off the list I put out there. If you’re here, you get transferred to the regular list. If you’re not, you don’t.”

“Look, I’ve seen a dude punch out another dude at one of these things and I’m not a big fan. The first guy here puts out a list to help keep stuff in order until they get out here and deal with us. That’s all. I’m just trying to stay warm.”

“When the hell did you get here?”

“11:30 p.m.”


He started probing me, a pretty common technique with estate salers. They want to know what you’re there to buy. Tends to help them determine with what level of vigor they need to attack stuff. They also try to figure out if you’re going to be a threat. The best answers are the most vague and those that are the most likely to make you seem either benign or like a serial killer. Either way, the guy backs off.

He wants to know what I collect, and I’m vague. He wants to know how far away I came from, so I turn it back on him and ask if he’s from out of state. It’s obvious he wants something important and that he’s not really good at this. Still, he was smart enough to bring a large Tupperware tub, which I noticed in the front seat of his piece of shit car, so this isn’t his first rodeo. Also, he’s wearing a team sweatshirt and a baseball cap in the middle of the winter, so he’s probably a threat to me.

The first battle of the day goes to Doc.

2:45 a.m.- Can’t sleep. Thank God for the NetFlix app on my phone. I put “Hot Tub Time Machine” on a running loop, put on some headphones and laid back.

4:20 a.m.– Heh… Heh… He said 4:20…

4:25 a.m.- In and out of consciousness. In the mean time, two other people have showed up and parked out front. Apparently, I’m not the only completely insane idiot out here. I’d better game up for this. Not sure exactly how one “games up” other than to be ready to knock people over.

4:47 a.m.-Fifth dude/dudette arrives. By now, however, I’ve had almost no sleep, no decent food and no real loss of anxiety. This has led to a series of gastric explosions that has made it almost impossible to tolerate myself. I’m thinking this might be my way of “gaming up.” I’ll eat pork rinds for breakfast and back people off Zolteck-style.

5:42 a.m.-This is going to be ridiculously ridiculous. It’s still two hours before the people come out and sign us all in. I think we’re on the second page of the pre-sign up list. The entire street is jammed with cars, trucks, SUVs and other various vehicles. Neighbors are walking over from across the street to get their names down. I can’t sleep, as the lights from people pulling up continue to flood the place.
The last two hours are always the toughest. It’s like you want this to be over but you really don’t know how it’s going to end. Like a David Lynch movie…

5:44 a.m.-I contemplate another trip to the jar. A ton of people around. Last thing I need to do is get arrested for indecent exposure or something and lose my spot in line. Don’t laugh. People here are deadly serious about this. Trust me, it’s dawned on me to call the cops on these people parking on the street for violating the December to April street parking ban. Then I realize a) that would really mess with my karma when I need karma the most and b) it would mess up the pre-sign up list and I’m still first on that thing.

5:46 a.m.-Contemplating another round of “Hot Tub Time Machine.” Just lost at Catan on my iPhone. Seriously, what did people do before smart phones? Oh, yeah. People talked and shit.

6:33 a.m.-Less than an hour until sign in. This place is jammed. Every square inch of parking within about three blocks is taken. People are milling about. The sign in sheet was a great idea, as people keep signing it. Good deal. Listening to Rick and Len on WAPL, hoping time will pass quickly.

6:55 a.m.-Sun is finally up. People have taken to going beyond the list and placing items on the walk as if to mark their place. Boxes, packs of cigarettes, gloves and other shit. It is completely unclear what they think this will do to help them, but if they think they’re jacking those of us who have been here since yesterday, they’re in for a surprise.

And therein lies the interesting dynamic of these things. They become primal.It’s like Bill Maher’s observation that just because someone opens a new check out line, it doesn’t mean that Western Civilization has come to a halt and we’ve devolved to barbarians. Still, it’s something that is highly likely to occur.

7 a.m.- The sign in is a half hour away and I’ve been sitting in the driveway for about seven hours now. The upside: no fear of towing and I established presence with the people running the thing incase there’s a fuck up. The downside: I’m probably going to have to move and parking out here is ridiculously sparse. The upside: I’m parked in right now, so they’ve got to move other people before I can move. The downside: I’m trapped here, which means no breakfast and no real restroom. Lot of up and down in my business…

7:18 a.m.- I get out and join the throng. People are arguing about what matters more, the list or the markers they’re using. Applying this logic, I realize I don’t give a shit. Either the pad is my marker or the list works and I’m the first person. Either way, I’m the only person here with all of my teeth and a disposition that could be viewed as civil. It’s like Swamp People: Kaukauna Edition.

7:30 a.m.-The lady opens the door and people lean forward like little kids trying to get closer to a class pet. She sees me and asks, “Who’s first?”

That’s right. I am. SCORE.

7:36 a.m.-I show her a picture of the ticket stubs and ask where they are. The garage. Shit. That means that I’m going to have to bail on the whole house to get the stubs or go through the house and run the risk that the stubs won’t be there when I get back. Huge risk either way. Then this happens:

“So how much are you looking for?”

“Three or four each.”

I pause. You don’t overplay your hand. Quick thought: How do I divert this to a positive?

“Oh… I saw you had most of them in bags. Thought you were selling them as a group or something.” (Good call. Diverts attention, diminishes value in her eyes, keeps me from saying “Three hundred dollars? OK…”)

She pauses. “We were but we’ve seen the older ones going for three or four dollars each on the Internet, so we’re selling them individually.”

Three… Or… Four… DOLLARS? Holy fuck. Remain calm. Try not to French kiss the woman.

“Oh… I was looking at just buying them all, but you’re letting us in through the house and I didn’t want to run to the garage and stir up all sorts of shit for you among people who wonder what I’m doing. You’re a nice lady and you don’t deserve to have a riot on your hands.”

“Yeah, this is going to be interesting,” she said, her teeth starting to chatter. I notice she’s not wearing shoes. Being bulked up in a giant down coat is an advantage now.

“I’d like to buy them all, I sat in the driveway since 11 last night. Any way you can think to do this? I mean, if when you’re letting people in, if you had them, I could just grab them, move on and not create a problem as to traffic flow and people count.”

“Yeah,” she said. “I think I’ll just give them to Josh and you can get them on the way in.”

Resist… Urge… To… Cover… Her… With… My… Soul…

“OK, yeah, that sounds easiest. Thanks. Where do you want the papers I brought for you to wrap stuff?”

“You can just put them in by the garage.”

7:45 a.m.- People of weaker bladders and those who have a weakness for shit like food and coffee have left for their hour and a half reprieve. Having half a mason jar of piss in the back seat and running on nothing but pure adrenalin, I catch a break. The lady behind me leaves as does the guy holding down the parking spot across the street. I pull out and back into a perfect spot. Life is good to me right now. Or so it seems. It’s a long way to 9 a.m.

7:55 a.m.-I start examining the photos of the “bagged” ticket stubs like I’m looking at the Zapruder film. I can’t see the 1959 stubs. There are ones like them in there, but I can’t see them. I showed her the 1959 stubs, and she didn’t say, “Oh, those are gone/special/ass-poundingly outside your price range.” Thus, I have to assume they’re in there. However, assuming is risky. Still, I’ve got to play the odds. Nothing like a chance to panic for an hour to really make a sale worth attending.

8:10 a.m.- It’s too bright out to use the jar again, so I searched the net for a quick place to get a bite to eat within walking distance. No dice. A gas station was a half-mile up the road. Good idea. Besides, I’m not eating before this and I need to whizz.

8:40 a.m.-Walk was good, but cold. People are starting to crowd around the door and looking for a way in. The seller lady is walking around, this time with shoes, as people are looking like they’re ready to storm the beach at Normady. The place is a three-bedroom house, but it can’t be more than 600 square feet. I’ve never seen a place that small before. I peer in the window. The guy inside catches my eye, waves at me from inside and points to a table next to the door. On it, two bags of ticket stubs sit. They’re so close…

8:55 a.m.-We line up. The line is starting to press against the door. It’s not quite The Who in Cincinnati, but when you’re operating on no sleep and the people around you are starting act like assholes, it’s not easy to feel OK about anything. Some guy is screaming from the middle of the line about how people cheated to get up to the front of the line. The guy who was second to me is now so close that I honestly feel like I’m about to be Andy Dufresne and this guy’s one of the Sisters.

9 a.m.-One thing you realize about this moment is that everyone’s watch is different. Even more, the promise of a 9 a.m. opening is a “best intention” when you’re dealing with a group of people who aren’t IBM. The idea of “about 9 a.m.” should be fine, but these people are starting to get feral.

9:02 a.m.- The guy appears at the door, ready to let people in. The folks are still jockeying, with a few of them still doing the “so what are you looking for?” trolling. I peered over his shoulder as he tries to press open the door against the throng of humanity that is trying to get any possible edge.

9:03 a.m.- I’m called. In a flash, I’m in. I grab the stubs off the table to my left. I have no idea what’s in there or what I’ve actually bought. I know the sports room is down the hall to the left. I peer to the right corner and see the jadeite on a table up against the wall in the living room. An elderly woman, who has been doddering around the yard like someone with three broken hips, cuts in behind me and sprints to the corner with the deftnessof Katniss Everdeen running for the cornucopia and the speed of Usain Bolt. Before I can even make the turn to go for it, she’s got sold stickers on everything. Later in the day, I’d peer at the dishware and see that it was horribly over priced. I’m still smarting from not getting it, but it’s one of those things.

Estate sales like this are like trying to catch sand in a sieve. You’ll never get everything.

9:05-9:45 a.m.-This part of the day becomes an odd blur of moments in life that I’m not entirely sure actually happened.

I sprinted to the corner room where the sports stuff lived. The kid who was behind me is now in front of me somehow. He’s loading up bobble heads. I grab three instinctively, almost like the stuff was free. Meanwhile, the kid is throwing random shit into my box. I have no idea why. I grabbed a shoebox full of schedules and poured them into my box. I reached for a copy of a 1945 Cubs schedule, seeing a pretty good profit margin. However, it didn’t land in my box.

Some guy snuck up into the room and said, “Where the hell are the Packer programs?”

I couldn’t find the old programs. The guy had them. There was a table with binders full of programs, but he seemed to grab the Packer binder. I grabbed for the binder underneath it, figuring that would have the Braves programs. It was a second prize, but still a good one if the prices were right.

The guy reached down trying to block me out of it. I snaked binder and held tight.

“THESE ARE MINE!” he screamed with the social graces of a 3-year-old.

“Not this binder,” I heard myself retorting.

He swung his elbows like a center in basketball, trying to clear defenders away after grabbing a rebound. I ducked, and pulled down on the binder. It popped free and hung in the air with the tantalizing feel of a pop fly that was frozen over an outfielder, who was waiting to salt away a World Series.

I snagged it.

“YOU FUCKING ASSHOLE!” he screamed.

“Whatever, dude.” Not my best comeback, but it was enough.

The guy stormed out of the room with the binder.

It then dawned on me that the rest of the binders were still on the table. It also dawned on me that possession was 9/10ths of the law at things like this.

I opened the first binder, saw $20. The second one? $50.

Fuck it. I’ll take them all.

I loaded seven binders into the bin I brought with me and headed to pay. I figured I’d be out of there in the next 20 minutes and home for a nap by 10.

I dragged my stuff to the front of the place and was ready to pay. Quick, delusional math had me at about $500 max for everything.

Then the seller lady said something that chilled my spine:

“You do know these programs are all individually priced, right?”


9:45-10:10 a.m.- Fuck.

Fuck. Fuck. Fuck.

OK, deep breath. How bad can this be?

Well, by the time she’d gotten through three binders, I was a grand in the hole. The ticket stubs, the things I came for, hadn’t even been counted yet. Then she kicked me in the balls:

“You want this one, too? It’s $250.”

More fuck.

The line of people trying to check out was growing by the minute. The money was starting to really add up. I figured I had about $3,000 worth of shit in that bin. The plus side, Dad was in for half. The minus side: I’m not sure he’s in for $1,500.

“Look,” I told her. “I think something got screwed up here in what I was seeing and what you guys were doing. No harm, but I need to let you keep the line moving while I figure out exactly what I’m into.

First thought upon getting out of line: Call Dad. If he’s good, I’ll load it onto the credit card and settle up some other time.

A quick call to the house and he was nowhere to be found.


I grabbed a seat on the couch in the garage and started doing damage control.

I started culling programs. I counted tickets. I ditched shit I could get anywhere like bobble heads and newer tickets.

I started pulling Lombardi-era programs I desperately wanted. I pulled rivalry programs like Packers vs. Bears. I pulled programs that were more likely to turn a profit, thus making it easier to save enough money for the ticket stubs.

Low cost vs. high profit. Want it vs. need it.

Suddenly, the guy from inside the house appeared at my side.

“I want to THANK YOU for STEALING from me like that,” he sneered. “You know that was all mine.”

Normally, I wouldn’t give a shit. It was something where I was being taunted by an idiot. I’ve always said that you should never argue with an idiot. The idiot will drag you down to his level and beat you with experience.

However, I was embarrassed that I had taken more than I wanted to spend. It was unintentional and Janel wasn’t on my case about it, but this guy was being a huge douche. What he wanted was me to lose my cool.

Meanwhile, the line is growing and growing. People are circling me like vultures. I’m trying to keep an eye on stuff so that what I do want I won’t lose. What I don’t give a shit about, I’m piling on the side of the couch.

I’m calling Dad again when this guy starts talking shit again. It really looks like he wants to fight me for this stuff. And, no, I don’t mean like “The Great Debaters.” I mean he wants to take me outside the garage and fuck me up.

I have no out. The garage is packed. The guy is surrounded by at least one other guy who looks like he’d rape a pig on a dare and two other guys who seem ready to do just about anything violent for fun. No one around looks like they’d be willing to do much to stop this if it went south.

Ten things could happen here.

Nine of them would be bad.

Only one would lead to some kind of positive outcome for me.

10:12 a.m.-Eddie Murphy once noted that the best way to get out of a lot of fights is to act like you want to fight.

The only way to get out of here was to lose my shit.

I grabbed the binders of things I didn’t want anymore and walked across the garage. A set of giant furniture separated us. I tossed the binders on the couch in front of him.

“You know what, asshole? Fuck YOU. No, sorry, FUCK you. You want this shit, fine, but don’t be disparaging me in front of a group of people. Take it, you white trash, hillbilly FUCK.”

The garage got quiet. Everyone stopped. The guy picked up the binders and started trying to figure out what was going to happen next.

Wisconsin has a right to carry law. If he wasn’t thinking it, the guy next to me who finally broke the silence was:

“Man, I need to get out of her before I get shot.”

The asshole guy was trying to hold his end of it together. I was out from under the binders, I got pretty much what I wanted and now everyone wanted to get rid of me.

I asked a guy next to the “don’t taze me, bro” guy if I could just cut back in line so I could get out of there before I lost it.

“I’ve been waiting here so long,” he said. “I don’t even care. Just go.”

An old lady tried admonishing me. I just stared at her.

I got to the front and handed Janel a running tally I’d put together in fairly slapdash form. It should be somewhere between a grand and $1,200. Dad’s in for half, so I didn’t spend everything. If the stub I want is in the bag, I’m golden either way.

She’s doing quick math when the guy pipes up again with something I was trying to ignore.

The seller lady looks up, not willing to make a scene.

“Look,” I told her. “I really like you and I don’t want this to become a problem so please just get me the hell out of here.”

Her tally was somewhere around $1,150.

“Will you take a grand cash just so I can leave?” I practically beg, jerking my head ever so slightly to the asshole who is still yammering on and on.

“No problem,” she said. “Just go.”

I handed over the 10 $100 bills I had in my pocket and left.

The snow was blowing sideways. I hadn’t even realized it had started.

10:35 a.m.:I get to the car and paw through the stubs. After a quick pass, I find it. A small scrap of paper captured in time. After a night of no sleep, peeing in a jar, dealing with a couple real pain-in-the-ass dildos and almost losing my mind, I had it.

That golden ticket.

I carefully tucked it back in the bag, see-sawed the truck out of my parking space and started for home.

The phone rang. It’s Dad.

“Where the hell were you?” I demanded, delirious from a lack of sleep and drained of all sense of decorum.

“I walk every morning with the guys. What’s up?”

“I was trying to get a hold of you to see how committed you were to this.”

“Hey, I told you to use your judgment on what you though we should do,” he retorted.

“My judgment is impaired by lack of sleep. I could have dropped three grand in that place without batting an eyelash.”

“Jesus,” he said, his voice dropping to a whisper. “Not sure I’m that committed.”

“How about half of a grand for each of us? We can make that back with a couple sales.”

“Better. Wow. You sure you don’t want to do this by yourself?” he asked.

“No, dammit, I don’t,” I told him. “I can make money by myself any time. It’s called going to work. This is found money. This is team money. This is an adventure. AND I got something amazing I’m keeping. The whole point of doing this with you is so we can share it and enjoy telling this story over and over again.”

I could hear him smile on the other end. We talked for about half the drive home, as I weaved in and out of semis on U.S. 41.

“I’m going to let you go,” he said. “I’ve never heard you this amped up before. Be careful on the rest of the drive.”

“OK,” I said, already thinking, “Tomorrow is half-price day… wonder if any would be left…”

“When do I get to see you next?” he asked.

“We’ve got a card show Sunday, right?”

“Yeah. Right. When are you coming in?”

“I can do early Saturday.”

“Good. We’ve got some investigating to do. Gotta see what we got here.”

7 thoughts on “The Golden Ticket (and what it took to get it)

  1. As always, love your story. I was there with you and I averted my eyes when you did that thing with the mason jar.

  2. this is why i gave up trying to get in on the 1st day w/ all the dealers + shit. hell, i get great stuff the last hour of the sale. tho i prefer 2. oh shit, i love being paid to shop + house tour! house spelunking! and i learn shit. per lysne! and since my heirlooms suck, i buy my own + jeez, my collections. yesterday sale pretty much sucked, the bag sale already started, but i did find $5 worth of stuff.
    was a hoard/shopper sale last summer. so much shit crammed in the home they had 5 3 day sales. i did #2, #3 + #5.
    i need to ebay the LP of the packer championship game.

  3. Doc, you are committed…or maybe you should be committed! Ha ha ha! I am a mere amateur compared to you, but love estate sales! I usually go to gawk at the house (esp in the Garden District)and see what treasures I can find…no pre-planning for me! If it was meant to be, it was meant to be! I also don’t get there until after 10 AM so I don’t have to deal with the crazies -I have had someone screaming “that’s mine!” when I pick something up from a table too! I also LOVE 1/2 price day on Sunday!

  4. My ex loved estate and garage sales. Me, I hate to shop, period. But even with all thoughts of profit set aside, I understand just how irrationally obsessed one can get about something. (For me, it was a recording of an obscure song from my youth, finally obtained 45 years after the fact on YouTube.)
    And all that aside, great story. If you actually liveblogged this, I am in awe, but even if you didn’t it’s a wonderful read.

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