Thursday, February 08, 2007

You Break It, You Buy It.... Fact or Fiction

Growing up in the seventies, we (being my mother & the 5 kids) spent our week-ends at the big old red barn. Farmers, we were not. Survivalist, maybe. Marketeers, definitely.

You see, the big old red barn had been converted to a flea market and this is where our life found livelihood. Selling what-ever we could get our dirty little hands on, we made ends meet.
Junk bought on Monday became an antique sold on Sunday. We bought discontinued clothes by the pound. We painted them & sold them as designer pieces. We cruised the neighborhood, picking up other peoples trash to take home and sand or paint and hopefully turn into some shoppers treasure.

We didn't become millionaires. But we survived.

There, at the flea market, as a little girl I learned a number of different things.
One of the things I learned right off the bat was "If You Break It, You Buy It."

Wheelers & dealers had signs posted that professed such. Some dealers would chant it if they saw unattended children. Some could communicate it just with their eyes. It was the number one rule at the market.

Well, one day this middle-eastern man came to the market. He looked funny trudging through the dirt in his silk suits and shiny shoes. All the dealers whispered as he walked by. Was he going to buy the flea market? Were our rates going to go up?

He came to our dirty little booth & then left. Other dealers swarmed around Momma... what did he say? What was he doing? Was he looking at anything? No....not really.
A few hours later, he returned with his partners. Straight to our booth, he came. He didn't pick up a thing. He didn't ask us anything. He & his comrades huddled, speaking in a foreign language.
Then, he offered Momma one hundred dollars for the old tattered rug thrown on the floor of our covered raw-earth booth. She's dirty. he said 'one fifty.' She's old and has holes in it. He said 'two hundred.' She said 'Cash?' He nodded and pulled a big, fat roll out of his pants pocket. She said 'Paige, help me roll this rug up.'

We left the market about an hour early that day. Before we went home, Momma stopped at the grocery store. In the car, she told us...Each of you may pick out one item and I don't care what it is, but pick out one item you want & today, I will buy it for you.'

We scattered throughout the store like salt sprinkled over a large pot of potatoes.
I think some of my siblings got chocolate & others got steak.
I stood in the first aisle, contemplating the seriousness of the situation.
I wanted something good.
I wanted something that would last a long time.
I wanted something I could savor for a good, long time to come.

I finally figured out what would be my best best & I headed to the condiment aisle.
I remember passing Curt & Kim...they were already waiting with their goodies.
On the bottom shelf sat my hearts desire... the largest jar of dill pickles ever. It was as big as the ones on the counter of the corner store.
I crouched down & picked it up.
I didn't even get to take my first step before BAM!
It crashed to the floor.

Immediately I flipped the jagged glass filled lid & started dropping shards of glass in it. The dirt on my toes turned to mud as the splattered pickle juice ran down my legs.
A boy with an apron showed up with paper towels and a dust pan.
I looked up & although, I didn't really cry...the tears came down my cheeks.
I apologized & told him I would clean it up.
He said he had it & he began to sweep than broom over my pickles.

My voice cracked 'I know, I break it, you buy it. But if you could just give me some of your paper towels...I can save some of these pickes...they don't all have glass in them and I promise I'll clean this mess up. My mom will pay for this jar. She said she would buy any ONE item I wanted and well, this was it. I'll throw the glass away but I want to keep the pickles'
He crouched down beside me.
'Tell you what kid...I'll carry a fresh jar to the front for you. I'll clean this mess up & no-one will ever know. I'll tell my boss & he'll be OK with it. Don't worry, you won't have to pay for it, OK?'
'Are you sure?'
"Yes, 'You break it, you buy it' isn't always true, okay?"

I told my Momma about breaking the jar & the nice boy in the apron. I wondered if he would get in trouble. She laughed 'No honey, probably not.'

Our hearts, sometimes like that big old jar of pickles...
too heavy, sometimes, to carry just right
too valuable to just leave behind
broken, sometimes, but always with something to be salvaged
and just because someone broke it, doesn't mean they bought it...


Matt said...

"Paige," were you a gypsy?

(My mom was weird, btw. She always tried to scare my little sister and I by saying the Gypsies might want to kidnap us on account of our blue eyes.)

Baron Ectar said...

God woman I so needed this story today. I think you are so awesome and I so look forward to reading you! I would carry you a jar anyday.

bardouble29 said...

ahhhh, I loved this story. We all have "old jar of pickles..." situations in our lives, thanks so much for sharing that.

In Salinas where I used to live we had a "Big Red Barn" where there used to be weekly flea market.

singleton said...

Well, we were gypsies, but that's another post.... God I love you little one! I remember that day like yesterday. That life like yesterday. That love like yesterday.

Spadoman said...

Great story. I can relate to the flea markets and second hand stores. We call em' thrift stores up here in Wisconsin/Minnesota. Some are really good. I find stuff and sell on Ebay. My specialty is lamps and shades, but I do other stuff too that catches my eye.

Spousal unit only buys new shoes and underpanties, all her clothes come from the thrift stores, all the grandkids tous and most of their clothes too. I'm fussy. I usually can't find fat ass size in a good pair of jeans. :-)

We like what people think of us as we are the hippy/gypsy/ bohemian type people. I like to think there's a little Red Green in me.


Spadoman said...

PS You break it, you bought it.

I always like the sign that said,

"Pretty to look at, nice to hold, but if you break it, consider it sold"

The new one is a line by line list of all the work the store owner had to ge through to get the stuff into his store in the forst place and how much it costs, so you're not suppose to ask to bargain with prices.

What ever happened to the "real" gargae sale or f;lea market table? Where people just got rid of stuff. Now thay want $20.00 for a fisher price barnyard with out the fences or the animals, and they sell "little people" on a zip loc bag. Ebay screwed everything up, eh?

Blogarita said...

Coming out of Lurkdom to tell you this was a great wonderful post. Thanks for sharing it.

skinnylittleblonde said...

Matt~ LOL, I never consiered ourselves to be gypsies...they seemed to travel more, we had our little booth for years.

Baron~ Thanks for bopping in & I'm glad you liked the tale. LOL, sometimes life is like that big ole jar of pickles, isn't it?

Bardouble~ I wonder how many old red barn have been converted to flea markets over the years. this one, as far as I know has shrunk in size significantly & is simply an antique shop now. It used to be as yours was in Salinas.

Spadoman~ LOL, I love it! Back in the day, we probably could have hooked you up with some good jeans... we bought 'em by the pound at a close-out distributor. I am like your wife, I like my panties & shoes new. LOL, other than that, I really don't buy clothes to often. My size doesn't change much so I wear the same clothes year after year.

BTW~ My favorite sign now is "Unattended Children Will Be Given One Free Puppy And One Large Mocha-Latte."

Blogarita~ MMMMmmmmm...your picture looks so enticing! I'm glad you came out to play. Please feel free to lurk anytime. This whole blog-thing, for me, is just another way to let the lead out.

****I am going to try to catch up on everyone else's blogs this week-end, I am behind...busy pushing this big ole jar up the hill this week ;)

piktor said...

skinny, this post is a keeper! I'm already cooking up an image for my blog...

singleton said...

theres that word again.....

Orhan Kahn said...

Oh my God. How do you manage to put my emotions through such a rollercoaster with a few paragraphs? I was there with you. I could feel the tears. I e-love you more and more each post SkinnyLittleOne.

mindy said...

i love this post. and the way you tell this story is so clear, it's like i was there too. i love that. oh, and i love pickles.. i love them so much, i save the pickle juice and freeze it for a "pickle slush"!

skinnylittleblonde said...

I can't wait! You flatter me so and your artwork is always wonderful. LOL, hopefully your translation won't have too many pickles ;)

We are packrats...even of our memories!

You crack me know I e-love you too! No post is ever complete without you!

LOL, so I take it that you drink the juice too? I'll have to try the frozen version. My mouth waters whenever someone says the word 'pickle' Thanks for bopping by.

I, like the view said...


full of wonder!

and I love the line "just because someone broke it, doesn't mean they bought it" in reference to one's ♥

thank you!

Tai said...

Wonderful story! Mysterious, funny, bittersweet, and inspiring.

slaghammer said...

That was one hell of a cool story. The pickles made it even more so, I’ve heard them called “Movie Pickles” around these parts and I have a craving for them that cannot be satisfied. Jilly has caught me on more that one occasion drinking the pickle juice directly from the one gallon jar they come in. It’s ok though, I’m the only person I know who likes them so I consider the jar my own personal pickle trough.

Angela Marie said...

I can just picture you as a little girl holding on to the huge pickle jar.... I want to give you a hug :)

what a beautiful memory..

View from the Trekant said...

Lovely story - you are a gifted writer! :)