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A phone call sparked this column.
The lady on the other end of the phone said, “This is Patty, from Kansas. Let me explain why I’m calling. It’s been a mystery to our family until we read your article. Do you remember our garage sale?
How could I forget it? Al came home with a whole truckload of things, which he didn’t need.
Patty explained: “We took all the leftovers to the thrift store when we finalized our garage sale. I asked my mother to call the thrift store to see if my dad’s orange coveralls were there. I felt this twinge when we closed up their house and left Pagosa, but the only thing I felt sad about was dad’s coveralls. My dad’s passed away and I always remember seeing him in those orange coveralls. They have ‘Ken’ written on the pocket. When I read that Sweet Al has my dad’s orange coveralls, I was thrilled to know where they were. Could I get them back?”
“Of course you can have them, both pairs. Al won’t mind, I’ll send them to you. I was afraid he was going to wear them to town and be picked up as an escapee from the county jail. Al would try to explain he wasn’t Ken.”
“I’m relieved. Thank you so much. I’ll send postage and my address. I really appreciate it.”
I told her, “It’s interesting you called. We were just speaking about you the day before. Al also bought a dog collar from your garage sale. Our daughter took my Sweet Al to Albuquerque to see the doctor. They decided to take Whiskey with them, since Whiskey needed her shots and the vet had all of her records. She was a city dog.
“While they were there, I got a call. Al was just beside himself. He lost his prized hunting dog. Whiskey escaped over the fence and she was lost.
“They scouted the neighborhood in Albuquerque for three hours.
“They called the humane society and the animal rescue.
“No one had called in about a lost dog.
“The next morning I got another call from Al; he was relieved. A man from the animal rescue called Al. They had found a dog that matched Whiskey’s description. The problem was, this dog’s name was Thunder — a name for a male dog — but the collar had the Pagosa phone number.
“Al explained to the man the collar belonged to the neighbor’s dog whose name was Thunder and he had bought it in a garage sale. She is wearing Thunder’s collar, it has the neighbor’s phone number, but she’s mine and will come if you call her Whiskey.”
When Al and our daughter arrived home, they retold the story to me, I said to Al, “Why would you put that collar on Whiskey?”
“It’s a nice collar.”
“No more garage sales for you.”
Final brushstroke: Ken’s orange coveralls and Thunder’s collar almost landed Al in jail and Whiskey in the animal shelter as a permanent resident. It’s those garage sale finds that will get you in trouble every time. And I have learned you might own that great garage sale treasure, but if it has someone else’s name on it, it’s not worth the stolen identity.
“What counts can’t always be counted; what can be counted doesn’t always count.” — Albert Einstein