Friday, May 12, 2017

Tag Sales Prompt Lawless Behavior

Maybe I’m naïve. When I see a yellow sign hanging on a telephone pole that reads, “Tag Sale, Saturday, 9 am To 3 pm,” I assume it means, “Tag Sale, Saturday, 9 am To 3 pm.”

But apparently, what that sign really means is: “All Traffic, Parking, and Jaywalking Laws Are Hereby Suspended.”

That’s the only explanation for the bizarre behavior I observe on Saturdays in the spring. Whenever someone piles junk from the basement onto the driveway and hangs a yellow sign on the nearest telephone pole, all heck breaks loose.

People who are otherwise law-abiding, suddenly become rude and vicious scofflaws when they approach a tag sale. They think nothing of screeching their cars to a halt in the middle of a busy street, and then just parking the car right there, IN THE MIDDLE OF THE STREET, blocking traffic in both directions while they scamper over to the junk pile looking for bargains.

I’ve seen people drive right up onto the lawn and park there — and not the lawn of the people holding the tag sale, but neighboring lawns, the lawns of people who have nothing to do with the tag sale. The confused homeowner leans out of the front door and yells, “Excuse me, ma’am. You can’t park on my front lawn. Please move your car.”

In reply, sweet little old ladies, former finalists in the Litchfield County Nicest Grandmother of the Year contest, have been known to spew a stream of profanity that would make a Hell’s Angel biker blush. When granny reaches into her purse, the frightened homeowner quickly ducks back into the house, thinking she’s about to pull out a pistol. Actually, she’s just pulling out exactly two quarters and four dimes, the total amount of money she will spend at the tag sale during the next two-and-a-half hours.

Recently I was driving along a busy section of Route 4 in Torrington. Two tag sales were in progress, on opposite sides of the street. Not only did the tag sale devotees park their cars anywhere and everywhere, including right on the double-yellow line, but they also walked anywhere and everywhere, including right in front of oncoming traffic.

As I approached the area, going about 35 mph, I slowed down to about 15 mph when I saw the commotion up ahead. I was about to pass by, when a man holding hands with two small children simply strolled right in front of my car. I slammed on the brakes and beeped my car horn twice, which in the international car horn language means: “Hey pal, what are you doing?! This is a state highway, not the food court at the Mall!”

The man glanced over and gave me a nasty glare, which in the international nasty glare language means: “Hey pal, what are you doing driving your car through this food court in the Mall?” If his hands had not been occupied escorting the two small children, I think he also would have given me a message using the international hand gesture language.

Tag sale enthusiasts remind me of college students. Regardless of minor issues such as laws against destroying other people’s property, if the school wins the national championship, some kids feel it’s their duty to set stuff on fire and turn over cars. The tag sale folks, regardless of minor issues such as laws against illegal parking and jaywalking, feel it’s their duty to transform a section of the street into a combination block party/demolition derby. 

For some people, maybe it’s worth risking life and limb to acquire a broken umbrella and two left shoes for 90 cents. But I’m not that brave. I think I’ll stay at home on Saturdays.

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