I spent much of last week and this weekend at our local elementary school helping them set up for and run the annual rummage sale. This is a huge rummage sale, bringing in between $15K and $20K each year. People look forward to it all year.
But after the work I’ve put into it, my faith in humanity is a little shaken. This is a fundraiser for the school. This isn’t life or death, and it certainly — in my mind at least — isn’t worth cheating over.
And yet, cheat and lie and steal people did.
Yesterday, I went through all the shoes midway through the day and reorganized them. I matched up every shoe that the evening before had perfect matches. There were sixteen shoes now lacking a mate. In other cleanup, I found three of the missing mates tucked behind the bleachers and under racks by enterprising souls who hoped to buy the $2 shoes for half price today.
My duty in the morning was to stand near the toy table to ensure that no one opened the bags and rebagged the $1 per bag toys or changed prices. To everyone’s surprise (this was the first year they’d stationed someone at the table), I didn’t catch anyone doing anything like this. Instead, people were caught in the back of the gym opening bags and stuffing as many Barbies in them as they could instead of paying the $1 per bag. And the $2 stickers for some of the nicer toys were littered on the floor.
I sorted through the jeans to straighten out the piles after the morning rush, only to find nice clothes thrust under the piles in the hopes that no one would find them. The same thing happened when I started returning items to the belt and socks and hat bins.
Even during setup, we weren’t immune. As I would price one section, I’d notice a random box under a table and discover items that someone had put away for themselves. And at the worker presale — for those of us who put in at least eight hours during setup — people showed up who hadn’t done one iota of work and then pulled out the items that other people had hidden for them.
Today was the bag sale. At the entrance, you bought a bag for $5 and could fill it. If you had more items than fit in the bag, you had to go back to the entrance and buy a new bag — no stashing things and then buying bags later in an effort to be fair to everyone. You don’t want to know the giant boxes I saw being filled with no regard paid to the workers requesting that they follow the rules.
C’mon, people. Do you really need this stuff? Is it worth cheating over? Do you feel better about yourself for having done so?
I know that I felt like I needed a shower by the time I left.