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April 25, 2009

Sell me your $1200 camera for $250?

April 25. Day 299.

I fell asleep around 3, 4 -- not sure anymore. Woke up at 7.


Tossed and turned a bit, willing sleep to come back. Then, I remembered an article I read yesterday: Police auction at a local convention center that's about 4 minutes from my house. Viewing at 9, bidding at 10. I jumped into Mr. A's car (since mine is now incapacitated -- again) and careened down the hill.

Parking was scarce. There was a line of people waiting to get in, snaking all around the massive lot under the blazing sun.

Inside, thousands of people crowded the display cases of designer purses and boxes of mangled car stereos, nudging, sniping, nipping and yelping for access.

I asked the auctioneer what the deal was. Are police auctions always so happening?

"No way. We usually have a quarter of this many people show up. A third, max. But we advertised on American Idol, so I guess that's why. Honestly, with this many people I would never bid. You'll find the same thing for a lot less at the mall."

Thanks for the tip, mister.

I wasn't there to buy -- just curiosity, since I've always wanted to go to an auction and this was just so convenient.

About half an hour later, he started.

"One Juicy Couture handbag! Do I have 200? 200? Do I have 250? 225? I see 250! 275? 300? 400? 450? 500? 600? 700? Do I see 700? 750? 850? Sold to the lady in black!"

0 to 850 in nine seconds flat.

Thousands cheered.

Purses were selling in seconds for their full retail price. An XBox sold for more than its price at Costco.

"I came here for a deal. No way I'm buying anything now," the woman next to me murmured.

They brought out a digital camera, a Canon Rebel, with a huge lens. I checked the price online -- around $1200, for the whole package. If I could get it for $400, it would be a total win. Anything less, a miracle.

He started the bidding at $200.

"200? 200? Do I see 225? 250?"

I waved my yellow paper.

By the time I put it down, the price had reached 500. 600. 700. 800.

Even as I lifted my arm, I knew I wouldn't get it. But like so many smaller askings, this was practice for the next one.

Gained: Experience. Also, one really cool cell phone audio recording of the auctioneer. Man can taaaaawk!!!!! Nice contrarian evidence, next time someone tells me I speak too fast. ;)
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