I bought a bench vise and four cheap frame-clamps yesterday morning at a garage sale across the street from me. It was held at the home of a man who died in his house and was found a few days later. His relatives (I assume) were handling the sale; from the looks of them, I’m guessing they were his grandchildren and, perhaps, his great grandchildren.

The bench vise set me back five dollars; the four frame-clamps an additional eight dollars. If I had been there earlier, I could have bought a heavy-duty wood lathe, a table saw, and a few other pieces of wood-working equipment.  But I didn’t get there earlier, so there’s no use in crying over spilt milk, as they say.  I may return this morning; there were a bunch more hand tools I’d like to get my hands on.

As I think back on the sale and on the fact that I did not know this guy, had only seen him a few times, I wonder how it is that our lives become problems to be sorted out after they are gone? The objects associated with our hobbies and avocations become the detritus of our lives, things which kin or hired hands dispose of in the manner best suited to generate the most cash.  “Grandpa Jack sure did collect a bunch of crap, didn’t he? How much do you think we can get for it?”

The conversations that take place between relatives who want to dispose of items as quickly and as profitably as they can are pure imagination, manufactured in the mind of a skeptic.  Those imagined conversations carry with them biases. I knew nothing of the man, nor his family, yet I wonder about their greed and their state of mind in connection with the sale.

But who are the vultures, in fact? The family trying to recover from grandpa’s passing or the neighbors sensing a deal in a death?

I try not to think such things, but it’s a pointless endeavor. I’m hard-wired that way.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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2 Responses to Vice

  1. Thank you, Holly. Where can I find your writing?

  2. Holly Forrest says:

    Great title for a good piece that could be easily expanded to a whole book. I have my own stories and thoughts on this subject. You do a wonderful, thought-provoking short essay here.

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