Don’t Feel Ashamed If Someone Doesn’t Buy Your Secondhand Stuff
Sometimes on a Sunday, when the sun filters through the window in my room just right and I’ve just made my bed, I’m filled with the irrepressible urge to Kondo my entire life from head to toe. It’s nothing more than an elaborate procrastination scheme. Some people clean the grout in their bathrooms with a toothrbush and elbow grease; I prefer to stand in front of my closet or sagging bookshelf with a glass of ice water in one hand and a garbage bag in the other, ready to attack.
A recent purge of my clothing was inspired by a couple of hours spent reading listicles about must-have fall basics and a low-thrumming despair at the state of my wardrobe in general. Fueled by visions of t-shirts without stains, I grabbed handfuls of clothing from my drawers and shoved them into a garbage bag, to be brought to the morally dubious clothing drop-off bin at the middle school a few blocks from my house. I briefly considered lugging the bag to Buffalo Exchange or Crossroads down the street, braving the throng of weekend crowds with an Ikea bag full of H&M jersey dresses stretched past their prime, but that was decidedly unappealing. The same frenzied purge session found me shoving piles of books into bags with the intention of bringing them to the used bookstore down the street and making at least enough to buy one new hardcover or to treat myself to dinner.
When the person assessing my fraying t-shirts rejects the clothing I’ve brought to sell, I understand that it’s not a personal indictment of my taste or of who I am as a person. They know what they’re looking for and often times, I certainly don’t have it. Most of the time, when I go in there, That’s fine! But the book buyers at my local bookstore are inscrutable creatures. Every single time I sell books there, I am at their mercy as they silently thumb through my collection and push all but three books back to me when all is said and done. What’s usually left are books that I was certain would sell — hardcover novels and esoteric books on the theory of nostalgia and dusty books stolen from my dad’s bookshelves that I thought I’d read but certainly did not.
Are they judging my taste? Do they think I make bad choices? Why am I feeling badly about what a bearded man thinks of the books I’ve chosen to get rid of? Most importantly, why on earth do I feel bad? Why am I taking it personally, as if a vast sea of people are soundly rejecting my life’s work when really, all they’re doing is assessing what they have at the store, looking at what I’ve brought in and figuring out whether or not they have the space?
There’s no point in feeling any type of way about what is a very simple transaction. My taste is what it is and while the bookseller could very well be constructing an entire dossier about me based on the well-worn copy of The Help he has in front of him, I have learnd to squash my instinct to explain away my reason for owning it. No, he doesn’t need to know that I bought it at the Hudson News in Grand Central because I left my house without a book and was slightly hungover. And, nothing about what he may or may not think matters. He’s doing his job, I’m part of that job. It’s all fine.
When all is said and done, I usually make about $27 — enough for a hardcover of my choice or the aforementioned dinner. I lug the books back to my home, where they sit on my floor in the same bag for weeks until I put them in a box on the curb with a sign that says “FREE.” They are usually gone by the next morning.
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