Our city held an auction today. The auction featured over 400 bikes and a bunch of household stuff like VCRs (those went for a whole dollar each), rusty chains, and a snowman decoration for the lawn. It's all property that has been held by the police department for the past year. I'm not sure of any details beyond that. I'm guessing a lot of it is stolen property that was never claimed. I went to the auction more out of curiosity than anything else. P didn't ask for a bike, and hasn't indicated any interest whatsoever in owning a bike, but my goal (naturally!) was to get him a bike. I headed to our local fairgrounds and registered for the auction at 8 a.m.. It was something like 40 degrees and the auction was held inside an uninsulated metal building with all of the overhead doors left open. Suddenly, my cute floral flats were starting to seem like a pretty bad idea.
I was given bidding number 128. I dug a pen out of my purse and started writing down the numbers for bikes that I thought might work for my husband. I also picked out a couple of women's bikes, although I wasn't specifically focused on getting a bike for myself since I already have one. Some of the bicycles were really nice - good brands like Trek, Cannondale, etc. Some of the bikes were rusty beyond all recognition. A couple bikes had biohazard stickers on them, placed there by the police department. I tried not to think about that too much. ("Mommy, is this dried blood on my new bike???") I also spotted a couple of possibilities for my daughter. She has a bike as well, but I thought it might be a good idea to get the next size up for when she gets a little older.
At 9:00, I made may to the bleachers and found a seat. I looked around and made a few observations about the predominantly male crowd. One, I seemed to be the only bidder without a trucker's hat advertising a taxidermy shop and/or hunting/fishing stuff (or even my preferred gun manufacturer). Two, I haven't worn a hole in my back pocket from putting my can of chewing tobacky there. And three, I was the only one wearing floral flats. Since this was a first time at an auction, I thought I'd better get the scoop from a more seasoned bidder. As luck would have it, Grizzly Adams was sitting next to me and seemed to know what he was doing. Guys with mega beards are always super friendly - I think it's in their handbook or something. He explained to me how the bidding works and gave me a rough idea of how much the bikes usually go for.
Then, I basically just froze my ass and feet off while waiting for the numbers I had on my list. I saw bikes go for $2.50 to $100. It was a tricky affair. My biggest fear about the whole thing was not being able to understand the auctioneer. The truth is, I was totally unable to understand the auctioneer. Fear confirmed. I listened carefully and heard, "C'MON, FOLKS. BEEDA BEEDA BEEDA BEEDA SOLD!" I was afraid that I'd bid on a bike and then head to the check-out table only to hear, "Okay, ma'am, your total for this bike with no chain and one wheel is . . . $547.50."
I bid on the first bike on my list, but the bidding quickly got out of my price range. I made a couple more attempts, before ending up with a $5.00 bike for my husband. Hey, at least he can't yell at me for spending too much money. About an hour later, I scored a bike for my daughter. It looked practically brand new! I had my eye on a bike for myself, but they still had another 150 to go before getting to that one and, since I could no longer feel my feet, I thought it best that I called it a day.
It was an interesting little adventure. Now that I know how it works, I may go next year as well. You just never know when you might need a Leann Rimes CD (seriously, that was one of the item's in today's auction) or a ten-year-old hard drive.