Sunday, October 17, 2010


Batman has the Joker. Superman has Lex Luthor. Rachel Maddow has the Republican Party. Phyllis Schlafly has feminists. And, now, I, too, have a Nemesis.

The community of secondhand stuff geeks and resellers in any area is typically small enough that, after a while, you start to see some of the same people around at sales. And after a few encounters, you start to learn who to avoid and who's fun to strike up a conversation with. I ran into a woman last weekend who was so much fun to look through a box of junk with that I hope we meet again. She even started handing me things she thought I would like!

Sadly, though, there are enough obnoxious dealers out there, that someone is bound to cross the line from being merely annoying to becoming someone whose very presence at a sale actually causes it to be less enjoyable. From there, it's just a hop, skip, and a jump until they are a full-fledged nemesis. Yard Sale Bloodbath has Annoying Jewelry Guy. I have (Smelly) Book Woman.*

I used to see her from time to time before I started selling, usually at major book sales. She would corral every decent book in the place and sit in the middle of the floor with stacks all around her sorting through them at a snail's pace, snapping at anyone who got too close to her or one of her piles. Honestly, her whole set up is pretty hard to avoid. When I say "middle of the floor," I mean the literal middle of the floor, blocking traffic, yet getting annoyed at anyone daring to invade her space.

After keeping all her selections tied up for usually over an hour, she'd pick maybe a third of them (or less) and walk away, leaving everything else stacked in everyone's way.

It was bad enough when I was just out buying for fun. I'm not sure what tipped me off, but eventually I realized that she was a dealer. So when I started selling, she became not only annoying, she became competition. Now, I honestly try very hard not to be one of those resellers everyone hates to see coming because they are so rude and grabby. Seriously, if someone else gets something I would have wanted, I can live with that. I stood behind a woman one time who cleaned all the good titles out of a box of 25-cent DVD's. I just didn't see the need to get in a grabbing war with her.There will be something else down the line. There always is. In the end, it's just other people's junk. But this woman rubs me the wrong way entirely. Just to be classified with her makes my skin crawl. I would die if anyone ever associated me with behavior like hers.

This year, it seems like I can't turn around without running into her(or smelling her). And to make matters worse, she's gotten one of those bar code scanners that lets her look up what things are selling for online. So now, she tries to corral every book in the place and not let anyone near them until she scans them.

For the record, I hate the scanners with a passion. I work by my gut and my own knowledge base. I treat books like I do everything else: I look for things that strike me as unique or unusual or that I know will sell well from past experience. I can maybe see myself having a scanner to confirm a hunch, but to have one as the sum total of my knowledge base? No way in hell. That's lazy and demeaning to those of us who try to take what we do seriously.

Back to the Nemesis, I ran into her leaving a sale at a church library last weekend. She had maybe five or six books with her. The folks working the place opened the back door to air it out after she left. I'd been in there a few minutes, when one of the workers said to someone who just came in: "Did you see that woman at the books a while ago?" I knew exactly who they were talking about. The rest of the conversation was not positive.

A couple of weeks ago, I went to the booth to do my weekly updating, and who do I see sitting in the middle of my book space? YES! It was HER! Now, I'm wheeling a cart full of merch to put out and she's sitting in the spot where I usually set up to start working. Figures.

I'm feeling a tad violated, like she's made her way into my Sanctum Sanctorum, when I realize that, hey, she wants to spend money on my stuff. That's not a bad thing, per se. And I don't have to interact with her while she's there, which is definitely not a bad thing. So, I discreetly park my cart in the aisle and go to get my second load.

By the time I get back, she's gone. She ended up not buying anything. And she left piles of books all over the floor of my booth. I felt like Snoopy as the WWI Flying Ace standing on his Sopwith Camel, shaking his fist at the Red Baron.

Curse you, (Smelly) Book Woman!

*I added "Smelly" in parentheses because that's a relatively new development. I used to think she just sweat a lot, but here lately, it's been pretty hardcore funk. I mean the kind that lingers in the room for a while after she leaves. It's like being at an anime con.

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