Nov. 29th, 2011

I drove into DC from Virginia in Dad's truck. Dad's truck is old and clunky and cannot be counted on to reliably perform standard vehicular functions such as climbing moderate grades, accelerating to freeway speeds, or starting. It does, however, have a spacious bed, already so dented as to make Dad willing to allow me to haul just about anything inside it. Dad's truck is therefore ideal for the purposes of buying things at thrift shops, yard sales and pick-a-part lots. You could carry anything in that truck, as long as you balanced it right.

All the way to the city I saw the signs by the roadside for the estate sale. I had actually been planning on going to a bankruptcy auction, looking for copper scrap, but the sheer quantity of signs suggested the sale had enough organization behind it to be worthwhile. So, I followed the signs instructing me to TURN LEFT or TURN RIGHT, taking a meandering path through the city. I found myself on the National Mall.

The sale, as it turned out, was being held on the lawn. It was staggering in scale; it was impossible to see grass between the card tables heaped high with random junk. I had to park six blocks away and hike it in. I approached the first person I saw, a middle-aged woman standing over a stack of worn-looking books.

"Hi," I said. "I'm so sorry for your loss."

"Oh, you're sweet," she said, smiling sadly. "It happened so suddenly. But, listen, if you help us out by buying something, it would really help take care of some of the debts we have to deal with."

"I think it's great for the family to come together to do this," I commented.

"Oh, we're not family," the woman said. "We're former government employees. It's America that's died." She put her hands on her stack of books. "Can I interest you in the contents of the Library of Congress?"

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