Last night I was listening to the news while fixing dinner. It was, per usual, full of sex scandals, robberies, and tragic drunk driving accident. And this is coming off of a 5 month stint of TV filled with political bickering. I was feeling a little jaded about humankind in general at that moment, when my husband walked in waving an envelope saying with an I-told-you-so grin, “I knew it. I just knew it!” His news was just what this world weary lady needed right then.
Every year my husband and I take groups to work at orphanages in Mexico. This past weekend was our huge fundraiser to support this orphanage—a church/community wide Trash to Treasures Sale. This was promising to be our biggest year ever. We overflowed the Fellowship Hall into a huge tent outside.
You see a broad spectrum of society at these types of sales. The first year I naively thought that since we were raising money for such a worthy cause, that people would respond in kind. NOT! We’ve learned the following over the last 7 years:
- The fact that we are raising money to support 200 children without parents does not stop people from arguing er um negotiating over 25 cents.
- You can’t hold items for people without payment up front because the vast majority will never come back, and you’ve missed the best opportunity to sell the item.
- If people think that items will be discounted at the end, they will hide what they want until that time.
- And you can never never accept checks unless you know the person because orphan support does not equal honor. We have a large “NO CHECKS” sign posted over the cashier table.
To be fair, the vast majority of people are honest and above screwing a bunch of orphans, but still…
This year on the first day of the sale, my husband sold a really cool canoe to a woman who didn’t live in our small community. He liked the canoe and spent some time discussion its virtues with her. It was expensive and she paid cash.
Our sale must have been enticing because she drove back to our town the next day, and shopped for over 2 hours. As her pile of junk treasures grew, so did our smiles. At check-out she said she left her checkbook in the car and went to get it before they could tell her that we didn’t accept checks. The cashiers alerted me that I would need to deal with her when she came back. (It is amazingly awkward to tell someone that you can’t accept their check, and not everyone takes it well.) Lo and behold, when she came back she said she not only didn’t have her checkbook, but she also didn’t have enough cash, and she didn’t have a debit card to use in the nearby ATM machine. As I was processing this information and preparing my “As much as I’d like to help you I can’t” speech, my dear husband stepped up and said “Not a problem. Can you mail us a check?”
What!?! Mail us a check? Didn’t he know that “the check’s in the mail” is a running punch line? It would be one thing to agree to hold all this stuff (10-15 bags worth) for her to come back with the money, but he was letting her take the items with only a hope and a prayer that she was honest and not forgetful. Plus, this woman didn’t even live in our community so wouldn’t have the fear of running into us around town to encourage honesty. The amount wasn’t huge, but it was much larger than the usual purchase at a yard sale.
Now, my husband is a good judge of character (after all, he married me), but he’s been stiffed before at these sales just like the rest of us. Usually he is firmer about the rules than I am, but for some reason (honestly, at the time I chalked it up to exhaustion) he decided to take a chance. Well, you know the end of this story. Inside the envelope was her full check with a note attached: “Thanks for trusting me.”
We raised over $12,500 for the Hogar de Amor orphanage in Colima and Puebla Mexico and had our faith in humanity shored up.