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Saturday, October 27, 2012

Pre-Storm Bulletin


All the meteorologists and most of the population of the greater DC area is abuzz at the approach of the “Frankenstorm”, courtesy of sometime-hurricane Sandy coming up from the Caribbean and a couple of winter systems sweeping down from Canada.  I think this new affectation of naming weather events (not moving, relatively discreet systems like hurricanes, but particular events, real or imagined) is a bit silly, and indicative of the desire for drama in the weatherperson community, which thrives on anticipation of disaster, and the subconscious desire to be filmed while screaming into a microphone while wind, rain, snow and debris whip crazily around one’s body.  I have not followed the masses to the store to stock up on water and toilet paper, there being enough liquid and Charmin in my house to last me for a while.  I do anticipate having to eat several gallons of ice cream should the power go out, but at least that will be the only casualty in my refrigerator.  That and my thighs will be too big to squeeze into my pants.

My scare of the week came not from weather, but from the incompetence of the technicians installing my new AC unit (which-surprise!-does not work. I am still attempting to sleep in 80 degree heat). I got home at 11:50 on Wednesday night to find my apartment door standing open three inches.  The back hall light was on.  Visions of thieves and serial killers danced in my head, and I briefly considered calling the cops.  But I held my cell phone in one hand, swung the door fully open, and hallo-ed into the space without response, noticing that all my electronics were still present.  I left the door open while I explored the rooms (there’s relatively little space for anyone to hide, given my packrattiness) and noticed the installation of the new AC (at that point, I didn’t realize that it was as useless as the one it replaced).  Disgusted, I returned to secure the front door and found that the knob and the bolt were both locked—the idiots had simply not shut the door before they’d locked it!  Which is about as useful in keeping a place secure as the application of brakes while a car is in midair is in slowing the vehicle (something I can vouch for personally).  Of course, neither my resident manager nor the apartment office had their answering machines on.  I went to bed.  And stewed gently all night.

The estate sale work is wearing us down.  I’ve put in a trio of dozen-hour days this week, and next week, when we are supposed to put together a sale in a 16,000 square foot McLean mansion (its 200-guest ballroom has a Waterford chandelier bigger in cubic footage than my kitchen), promises to be worse.  Besides the usual hassles of item setup, we’ve had to deal with hovering in-residence owners, and next week’s octagenarian owner is quavering over the destination of every single item in the house (no kidding—she was going through the pantry to check all the expiration dates on the canned goods!).  It’s enough to drive one mad. Turnout for the last two sales has been middling, and sales have reflected this.  People are paranoid about the weather, for one thing.  For another, in resident-owner cases, the owners want to go around and comment on all the prices—this morning, the lady of the house yelled at my boss for selling her desk for $400. “But we paid $600!” she wailed.  It’s a used desk, and the buyer actually tried to get us to drop the price further, but we’d held firm.  And meanwhile, though she wasn’t aware of it, the costume jewelry which she had given me, declaring it was worthless, had netted over $300.  So, if she’d just sat back and waited, instead of second-guessing our pricing, she should have been pleased with the results. We all get emotionally attached to our possessions, and the benefit of having people like us come in to arrange and sell stuff is that we can tell what is actually valuable versus what the client has become convinced is valuable.  The twain are frequently different.

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