Goodwill trolling

February 9, 2010

Photo by Pam Wells ©2010

Geologically speaking, the basement of the Pullets’ house was a study in sedimentation, the process by which mineral and/or organic particles settle and accumulate in a particular spot as a result of water, wind, glaciers, or one of Audrey’s trips to Goodwill.

Carl held up a heavy wooden bucket with a metal insert and a crank. “What is this?”

“An ice cream maker,” Audrey said.

His implied question (“Are you trying to poison me?”) went unanswered. She took the bucket, dusted out the old spider chaff and put it back on the shelf.

Audrey was not a hoarder, not someone who stacked her neuroses by the door; she simply connected to things with a past. She’d found much that was useful, and those things made it into desk drawers, kitchen cabinets and closets. Some were fossils with a family story—that wooden board with the nails in it, for instance, was her grandmother’s spool rack, and she had fond memories of her grandmother. Others, like the ice cream bucket, were found fossils, and she could make up the story. It all came down to the story, which is why some things had to go.

• • • • •

Audrey helped the donation attendant unload five or six boxes of stuff, random dishes and clothes and books in whose plots she had lost interest. She shut the back of the car, made a u-turn and drove into the parking lot. No point in wasting a trip.

Inside, she trolled the aisles. It was paradoxical, this place; orderly aisles held people’s random castoffs, arranged into seven general groups: wood, pottery, glass, plastic, metal, cloth and paper. Old and new met cheesy and nice… and familiar?

Audrey stared a white orchid pot. It was a six-inch planter with holes in the sides. Only orchids were suitable plants for this kind of pot, and orchids were not suitable plants for Audrey. For Audrey, an orchid pot had fewer tricks than a one-trick pony.

• • • • •

Carl pried open a beer. He watched Audrey lift the orchid pot out of a sinkful of sudsy water which poured out of the ridiculous holes in the sides.

“Is that—”


“I wish you would just break it,” he said as she plunged it back in the water.

“If I wanted to break it—” She dried it off and put it on a basement shelf. It seemed this particular orchid pot had a story, which is why it had to come home.

©2010 Pam Wells


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