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Friday, June 28, 2013

Do We Really Know People In Our Community?

     You never really know the people you see in your community. We see them everyday, pass them, maybe smile, maybe even strike up conversation in a waiting room. One a rare occasion, make a friend that you stay in touch with. I call the quick, daily contact with people mini-connections. I am by my nature a positive, optimistic person and when I look at people, tend to smile. I hold the door for others, apologize if I bump into you, pick up and return that item you dropped and didn't notice. MOST people act decent to others in public.
On thing I have learned recently is that yard sales can and do bring out the worst in some people.  Several months ago I found that there was a Facebook group for people in my local community to buy and sell things from each other. I thought "what a great idea!" Physical yard sales are tough to pull together if you don't have time to organize, price and schedule. The are exhausting!  I have done those in the past and did not like it. Being harassed over the fence by "early birds" while trying to bring stuff out to the table was just the beginning. We tried to ignore their rude behavior and grumbling about not letting them in until we were set up. Now my mom is royalty when it comes to a yard sale. The woman knows how to price things to move. and knows how to set up the layout, arrange the tables, the whole thing. Now I know the culture of a yard sale is also that people will want to haggle, but those early birds, they were literally wanting us to GIVE them stuff for free and huffed and puffed at us over items that were $1 or $2. Now I also know that the very nature of a yard sale, is to get stuff for the least amount possible. What was aggravating about the early birds we dealt with is that we recognized them.... they were business owners who had booths at the local flea market. They troll the yard sales before dawn and then rush out to their booths and mark up and resell the stuff they got cheap. God be with you if you happen to be selling antique dishes or furniture! Those people are down right vicious if they show up and find out you have something like that and didn't "advertise". Another problem we dealt with was outright theft. People stole things right off our tables and acted like they were daring us to accuse them. I had some jewelry and things in the original boxes and we were keeping the tables neat and orderly between shoppers so we knew what was where.. The would even take the items out of the boxes and leave the boxes so we would KNOW they took it... And then a little bit after they left, another group would show up and say, "I heard you had some jewelry." I ended up boxing a lot of stuff back up and just selling online.
     So when I discovered this online forum that would allow me to still sell the stuff I have, without going through the trauma of a physical yard sale, I just thought it was fabulous. I have been selling online through auctions and listings since 1997 so I didn't think twice to start posting stuff. I counted the fact that it was people from my own community as a plus, because we could meet or arrange pick up and I wouldn't have to ship things and then worry about them arriving damaged or not arriving at all. It should be a win-win for everyone involved. SHOULD BE. There are a few very simple flaws in the equation: PEOPLE REFUSE TO PLAY BY THE RULES and REFUSE TO USE COMMON SENSE and ABSOLUTELY REFUSE TO ACT LIKE DECENT HUMAN BEINGS. Several weeks ago The group quite literally imploded. It had already been getting out of control and people weren't following the few simple rules laid out by the admins: if you interested comment that you are, if not interested, just keep browsing. If you don't like the item of even if you think the seller has it priced too high, keep your opinion to yourself, stay "in line" and if don't jump on someone else's post if you have the same thing to sell. Just make your own post. Simple right? You would think so. I had already had my fair share of aggravation when I made arrangements to be "in town" to meet people that said they wanted to buy things from me and got stood up by 5 people. Then it happened... someone posted tickets they had bought for a "big" concert that was coming to our city I'm not talking New York City either.. we have maybe 33,000 citizens in the city, another several thousand in our rural communities ...anyway, this concert was organized last year as a fundraiser for our community in the aftermath of the April 27, 2011 tornadoes that ripped this area up. The city plans to make this an annual event and this year was much bigger. This year it was a two day extravaganza with some pretty big names... Hank Williams Jr. Willie Roberson, Sara Evans, The Band Perry, Scotty McCreery... Anyway, those tickets... there were a few different price levels and the "big" ones were the VIP tickets. They originally sold for $129 each. With only a week left before the concert people started posting their VIP tickets for sale for hundreds of dollars over face value and it sent people into a tizzy. Some had that kind of money to blow and were willing to buy them. I could not have cared less. I knew it was going to be a madhouse and had no desire to be there. So I followed the rules: wasn't interested, kept my mouth shut! Others could not control them selves and after several days of vicious name calling, hateful talk and lots of cussing, someone complained to the police about "ticket scalpers"... in the midst of all this turmoil, a state law was brought to our attention that individuals are in fact able to sell tickets above face value and it is not considered a crime. People that "scalp" tickets as a job and on a regular basis have to have a state license to do so... learning these facts still did not settle people down... the ones that wanted the tickets so badly were cussing and carrying on about it being "unfair" for people to price them so high. I had to laugh... they don't really understand the meaning of unfair. Just because they couldn't afford it, certainly does not make it unfair. I couldn't understand why all these people didn't get tickets when they first went on sale. After all, it was announced well in advance. Before the dust settled, the admins of the group disabled everyone's ability to post anything new and they went through the list of members and removed all the people that had caused any drama, which was a good thing. I myself ended up blocking a few people just because they had no restraints at all in insulting others, calling names and cussing. I am in no way perfect, but I can usually contain myself and work through a problem or issue. The group is back up and running again, but I am a bit gun shy to post anything. I guess I'm waiting tho see if people will follow the rules.
After it all, I have been left with some unsettling and mixed feelings. These people had no problem behaving so terrible online, hidden by a computer screen, but we all still live in the same community. Do they act like that is public? Do they use such hateful, foul language at the grocery store, in the park, at the restaurant? Is the lady I saw slinging insults online the same one I held the door for? I am saddened to know that people in my own community have no problem behaving like that online. That they would not think twice about posting an obscenity laced comment filled with hatred. That they could have so little respect for others and even for themselves. I am sad that when I see people in the store, I hesitate just a moment.....

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