Bad judgement: camera phones & estate sales

I was walking home from Dolores Park today and a cardboard box with the words “Estate Sale” scrawled on the side caught my eye. I turned on to a tiny side street and there was another piece of cardboard with a hastily scrawled arrow leading me up a stairway to a dark second floor apartment. I ascended the stair, my eyes barely adjusting to the darkness after spending a few hours outside in the sun.

The apartment looked like it had either been occupied by an elderly packrat or a band of hipsters with an eye for ironic furnishings. Because it was billed as an estate sale, and most of the furnishings had clearly been in this exact apartment since at least 1984, I had to assume that the owner was closer to 80 than 20. The sign at the curb had advertised “lots of art” but the only things I spotted that resembled art were a postcard of puffins in a gold wooden frame and a poster from the 49ers last Super Bowl appearance (in the Joe Montana days).

I walked in to the back room and noticed an abundance of VHS tapes. That is probably an understatement, short of a video store I have never seen this many tapes in one place. Then I turned around and noticed a huge bookshelf full of blank tapes that were still sealed in their original packaging, sorted by brand:

VHS tapes on a bookcase

This is where the first bout of bad judgement comes into play. Instead of reaching in my bag and using my 7 megapixel digital camera, I decided to use my piece of crap T mobile camera phone to take this photo. I didn’t even have it on the highest resolution (which still looks like a security camera photo blown up 300% and reproduced on newsprint) but instead I had it set to 170 pixels wide. This photo is all I ended up with.

It’s a shame that I didn’t have my good camera out. I walked into the bedroom next to the kitchen and there was a full size bed in the middle of the room. What, you ask, was for sale in this room? None other than the mattress pad on the bed that the previous tenant probably died on. This mattress pad was selling for a whopping $10.00. There was also a large wedge-shaped pillow for sale on top of it but I didn’t see the price tag. To top it off, across from the bed was a television with a sticker on the front that read “$10. Stuck on mute. You fix.” I can just imagine the scenario now. The deaf and incontinent resident of the apartment was stuck in bed all day, and the live-in nurse broke the television by permanently sticking it on mute so that he or she didn’t have to listen to the “Price is Right” and “Matlock” reruns on full volume from morning until night.

I’m not sure if it was worse judgement to sell a used mattress pad and broken television or if it was a bad call on my part to go to an estate sale advertised via a sharpie and cardboard box. At least I got a photo.

By Mark

Mark is an architect in San Francisco.


  1. oh my god that is one of the funniest things i’ve ever read. stuck on mute. you fix.

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