Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Another Lesson or Two Learned

This time my lesson was more about people than horses.  I'm training myself to ask why other people are asking me questions.  I have a tendency to just answer people's questions without questioning their motives, because I usually just assume their the motive of the questioning is to be sociable and make conversation.  Most people I know only talk about themselves, so I appreciate it when I come across someone who seems interested in me.  However, I dealt with a person recently who asked me a lot of questions without divulging his intentions on what he was going to do with that information, and boy did I suffer the consequences from that.

This experience kind of brought back memories of an old neighbor who used to question me about my schedule, so that she could come over and steal my hay and shavings while I was out of the house.  I was so naive that it never occurred to me that someone I know would do such a selfish and immoral act against me.

Anyway, this recent story involves an old friend who made me postpone giving the remaining items from the first estate sale to charity, because he insisted that he could sell the rest of the antique furniture over the Internet in a week.  However, that week turned into three weeks and still he hadn't sold anything.  I had told him I would give him one antique piece from the turn of the century as payment for his efforts, and he took that from my house before he did any work.  I found it interesting that he had the time to move a heavy piece of furniture and transport it to his house, but didn't have the time to take pictures of the all the remaining furniture and advertise it.

In the meantime, my real estate agent was upset that I hadn't cleaned out the house, because the mess leftover from the estate sale was preventing the house from showing well and selling.  He insisted that I had to have everything out of there this week.  So, the night before I left to donate the rest to charity, my old friend called to say that there were a couple of people interested in a few pieces, but they couldn't pick up the furniture until next week.  I said, "NO WAY!  You've had nearly a month to move that furniture out and if you drag this out one more week, it is seriously going to jeopardize my responsibility to sell the house."

So, he said he'd send the men over to the house while I was there, so that I could haggle over the price with them and make them move the furniture out on my schedule.  I told him three times that I did not want strange men coming to my door when I am in the house alone.  Working out a price and moving the furniture out was his responsibility.  I then told him that since he didn't sell any of the furniture on time, I advertised a second estate sale myself, but was limiting it to only two hours between 2:00 and 4:00 PM, because I had a lot of other stuff I needed to be doing.

I had business with the bank, I needed to pack my truck up with the items I wanted to keep, I needed to organize which charities got what items, and I needed to hire a clean up crew to come in right after all the charities leave.  I really didn't have time for another estate sale, and the only reason why I was doing it was because I knew I could sell more stuff and make more money for the Trust Fund, and that would benefit my handicapped brother.  Also, I felt better about having large groups of people visiting while I was there alone rather than having just one stranger show up to buy one item.

Next thing I knew, my friend called me to notify me that he told the two potential buyers that I was going to sell their furniture at my estate sale and if they wanted it, they would have to come to my house that NIGHT and give me a down payment.  I freaked.  First off, I go to bed as soon as it gets dark and I did not want to have to stay up.  I've been having health problems and need to lay down in the evenings to work out the kinks.  That usually means changing into comfy P.J.s and not coming into contact with the public after 7:00 PM.

Also, did my friend not hear me when I said three times that I don't want strange men coming to the house when I'm there alone?  And why send them over at night when the neighbors can't see what is going on over at my mother's place?  Then I found out that these men had already been in the house and seen the furniture.  So, why didn't they just buy the furniture then and move it out?  Why did they just say they wanted it and then leave?  The whole thing sounded flaky.

Fortunately, neither man showed up.  Also, my friend totally missed the other point of my grievance, and that was that I did not want more people coming to the house to pick up furniture AFTER I left town.  I HAD to get that house clean for the realtor to succeed at his job of selling it.  Every time I clean the place, people come traipsing in and out, track in all this crap, and move stuff around.  So, I decided that I was going to put my foot down and take back all the keys to the house that I had lent out, since having a key made people believe that they could come and go on their schedule and do whatever they please.

On the day of the estate sale, a man showed up on my doorstep at 1:00 PM and said he wanted to look around.  I told him that the sale didn't begin until 2:00 PM.  He argued with me and said that I had two ads on the Internet, and one said it started at 1:00 PM while the other said 2:00 PM.  I said he must be mistaken, but he insisted he read it three times.  He said I had already lost several customers because I wasn't set up in time.

I knew it couldn't have been a typo, because I advertised it in a cut and paste manner.  So, both of my ads would have said 2:00 PM.  I did close shop at 4:00 PM, only to later find out that this "friend" put in his own ad for me and decided that two hours wasn't long enough for an estate sale, so he changed the hours to 1:00 PM to 5:00 PM without telling me!!!  I was furious.  He prevented me from doing a lot of other work I had planned on doing that day by taking it upon himself to change the hours of MY estate sale, AND he didn't even show up to help.

On top of that, he took a picture of the washer and dryer and posted them on the Internet as being for sale after I told him TWICE that those appliances were being sold with the house as an incentive to home buyers.  So, some people came by specifically to buy the washer and dryer, and I had to tell them they are not for sale.  They got mad, because the ad said they were for sale.  Of course, I didn't know what they were talking about, because at that point I wasn't aware of this rogue ad that my "friend" posted to sabotage my estate sale.  I don't think sabotage was his intention.  I think he's just a forgetful flake, but he really should have asked before meddling in my private business.

The other thing this friend did was ask me what time I would be in town.  I was trying to be elusive, because I knew that if I told him, he'd be calling me and coming over and preventing me from doing what I planned to do.  So, I lied and told him I'd be in really late at night.  I wanted some alone time in the house, so that I could come to terms with saying goodbye to my childhood home.  I think part of the reason why the house isn't selling is because I'm not ready on an emotional level for it to sell.

Anyway, I then found out from a neighbor that this friend ran over to the house right after our phone conversation, and pretty much raided it.  He collected everything he wanted for himself, so that I wouldn't sell it at the estate sale.  I noticed that there was a pile of stuff by the back door where potential home buyers could trip over it and sue me.  In his haste to grab as much as he could and run before I got into town, he must have forgotten that pile.  The items in that pile were all items I had planned to keep -- things like unopened packages of Superglue and wood glue, so I quickly packed them into my truck before he could show up and protest.  He had basically dug around in a closet that I had closed off during the estate sale, because I didn't want anyone pawing through it.  I planned to keep everything in it.  He managed to break a clip-on lamp that I had planned to give to my son to take with him to college.

This friend's wife had purchased a piece of furniture at the last estate sale, but never picked it up, so I talked to her and told her she had to get it out of the house before the estate sale.  She said she would come by that night to pick it up.  I stayed up late waiting for her, and all she did was return something to me that her husband took without my permission and take something else that he broke in his rush to gather as much as possible.  Then she left without picking up her table, and casually said she would come by in the morning before the estate sale to get it.

Well, the estate sale came and went, and she never picked up her table.  I decided I was going to donate it to charity.  I had given her so many chances to pick up that table and she always had excuses.  Then she called and said she would be by late that night after church to pick it up.  I told her I had plans and would not be home.  She said she wanted to buy this other piece of furniture too if it hadn't sold at the estate sale.  I said okay, but you HAVE to move both pieces out no later than tomorrow morning.  She called me late, late, late that night to ask me if I could just leave the key to the house with her husband, because she wouldn't be able to make it while I was in town.  Argh!

At this point she had already given me the money for the furniture.  My choices were to return the money to her and give the furniture to charity, or give her husband the key.  I figured by the time they got in the house, everything would be gone anyway -- there was nothing else they could steal, so I lent them the key a second time.  I know I'm going to regret this, because the man is now talking about taking some light fixtures.  I said, "Absolutely not!  This house has old wiring and I do not want to risk burning it down by meddling with light fixtures."

However, since they know that I won't be back in town to check on the house, I suspect they'll help themselves to the light fixtures anyway assuming I'll never know.  I got the real estate agent and neighbor to check on the house and report back to me.

There was an antique cuckoo clock that belonged to my grandfather in the house, and at the time this friend offered to sell my stuff over the Internet, I asked him to research it and see what it is worth.  He later told me that he took the clock off the wall and took it home to research it.  I forgot to get it back from him before leaving the state, and I was planning on keeping it since his sales techniques left a lot to be desired.  He has said nothing more about it, so I suspect he thinks he gets to keep it.

What drove me nuts was the number of neighbors and friends who pestered me after the estate sale to let them come in and take what was leftover.  I told them everything they wanted had been sold.  I have no respect for people who drive BMWs, Mercedes, and Lexus's and expect handouts just because they think I know them.  Also, I was not willing to let anymore vultures take up my precious time.  They had two chances to purchase what they wanted at the estate sales, but instead purposefully waited until I was in charity mode to ask for what they wanted for free.  My time is more valuable than that.  I'm not doing anyone any more favors.

I had come down on a price of $750 for a hand-carved antique dresser with a mirror that was truly a work of art.  My uncle and I both wanted it, but neither of us could afford the shipping, so I had to sell it.  I was only asking $300 for it and clearly posted that it was appraised at $750.  A neighbor came in and said she'd give me $200 for it, but couldn't pick it up until later that week.  I blew a gasket and said, "There are four other people interested in this piece and I turned them all down because they couldn't pick it up until later this week.  No deal."

They said, "You won't even make a deal for your neighbors?"

I think I said something to the effect of it already being a deal.  They then offered me the $300 and agreed to move it out right then.  By that point I was so annoyed that I almost said no, that I'd rather give it to charity.  I think I pushed myself too hard by having two estate sales.  By the end of the second one I was so sick of cheap people nickle and diming me when I was already taking a huge hit.  They all had this attitude that they knew I had to move everything out anyway, so they assumed I'd be glad to give everything away for next to nothing.  I wanted to remind them that my mother died and I'm still paying both her bills and mine while unemployed.  I probably need money more than they do.

Almost as a final insult, as I was driving out of town, I noticed that someone had stolen a bag of kitchen utensils that I had set out for Charity #1 on the driveway.  At that point, I just gave up.  I knew I had no control over settling my mother's estate in a dignified manner.  People sure can suck.  Because I've been dealing with so much death lately, I've been thinking about the secret of life.  You know what I think it is?  The secret is that when you die, you will die happy if you can look back on all your decisions and actions, and honestly say that  you did the right thing in every case.  My mother is one of the few saints who graced  this earth who can say that she did everything right.  I know she's happy in her new space.

Now I am onto making more space in my house for the items I brought home from her house.  I couldn't throw out perfectly good food, bathroom and cleaning supplies.  For some reason she had two of each item.  I'm probably going to have to erect a shed just to hold all the duplicate items until I need them.  I feel like one of those extreme coupon cutters, only I ended up with a boatload of groceries without the coupons and without having to buy them.  I just had to transport them 400 miles.  Some of the bottles have rounded bottoms from the altitude change.  I wonder if trucks pressurize the air within their cargo holds to avoid problems like that during the delivery process, because you don't find the containers blown out in the supermarket.  Anyway, I'm taking things one step at a time and starting to pay closer attention to our own home now.  It's in desperate need of attention.  If anyone came to visit us right now, I'd be thoroughly embarrassed.  We look like we are boarding on being hoarders.


fernvalley01 said...

I have nothing other than a big cyber hug , and a reminder that , though you have recently seen some the worst of what people have to offer ,there are good loving and sensible people out there . At the very least your hubby and kids . Hope this all resoleves soon. And I believe you are right ,live your life , knowing each day you did your best and tried to do the right thing

Grey Horse Matters said...

People really do suck. I don't think I'd have any more dealings with your friend and his wife or with the neighbors concerning your mother's estate. Looks like they are taking advantage of you. Hope the rest of the estate sells quickly.

Cheryl Ann said...

It sounds like you need some time off from all of this. I know how hard it can be...remember to take some time for YOURSELF. (((BIG HUG)))

Fantastyk Voyager said...

I know people like that. So many people are interested only in "what's in it for me". Hope things get settled for you soon.

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

I wish I could fly on up there again and take you out to dinner and do some hiking and letterboxing. You know you'd not need to worry what I would think of your house or any clutter, etc. Those kinds of things don't matter to me at all, my friend.

I wish I could make things better for you.


Katharine Swan said...

I think, in light of all this and the incident with Gabbrielle and the farrier, it might be wise to reconsider the boundaries you set in your interactions with other people. For some reason a lot of people think they can get away with being nasty or taking advantage of you, and I think it's time to think about what you can do to make it stop. If it means you have to be a hardass with people, so be it -- better than this constant misery of always feeling like you're getting the short end of the stick!

Mikey said...

OMG, that is insane. I don't know how you handle it!!

achieve1dream said...

Wow that sucks. :( I hope this is all over with soon. What a horrible experience for you. Sending good thoughts for you.