Learning lessons at the ENMU auction

It’s Saturday morning, better known as Saturday sleep-in. Why would you deprive yourself?

That’s what I said to myself when the alarm went off at 8:30 a.m. Or that’s what I meant to say to myself; it came out a little closer to, “Uggghhh, whyyyyyyy????”

By the time I got to the shower, I had answered my question. It was time to knock out two items on the “Why Haven’t I Done It?” list with one morning.

Following the shower and breakfast and the drive, I made it just in time for the 9:30 a.m. Eastern New Mexico University surplus auction. It was my understanding there were 45 surplus bicycles in various conditions for auction, along with numerous other items.

This knocks out two things on the list because:

  • I’d meant to get a bike for the last few years. Not having owned one since junior high, I thought it would be nice to have an Point-A-to-Point-B bike. I could also save some fuel money and burn a few calories on those lazy-day coffee shop trips or any other “steal Wifi from somewhere else because I just don’t want to do it at home” days.
  • I’d never purchased anything at auction before. I’ve seen plenty of auctions, though most were of the charitable “drive up the price to help the kids” variety. I had never spent much time at the “outbid that other guy but still get it cheap enough to enjoy the savings” auctions, let alone put in a buyer number and stared down somebody. Well, unless you count eBay; I don’t.

The ENMU auction, I discovered later, raised $36,000 for the school’s general fund, and probably saved a lot of old furniture and office equipment from becoming useless cubic feet at a landfill.

The items were lined up in the Greyhound Arena parking lot, in what seemed to be about 10 rows. The auction started at the back of the parking lot, and the auctioneer’s golf cart led the packs of bidders up and down the rows. Pretty early into the first row, I learned the biggest rule of auctions — be there on time in case your item is first, but have a time-killing plan in case your item is 91st.

I was in the latter, so I had plenty of time to scope out the bike I wanted, along with bikes from Plan B to Plan Y (after the first 25 bikes, there was nothing that would function for me). I had time for a few conversations with people I hadn’t seen for a while, a shopping trip to buy the sunscreen I should have packed in the first place and conversations with more people who had joined the fray by the time I returned.

I always jokingly figured another rule was to keep your arms and head down for all auctions you weren’t part of, lest you end up inadvertently winning with a poorly-timed gesture.

“SOLD to the man who briefly made eye contact with me for ONE THOUSAND DOLLARS,” did not happen, however, as the assistants were really good at their jobs. They didn’t confirm a new bid unless they made eye contact with you, spoke out the dollar amount and saw you move both your head and hand in the affirmative.

I’m happy to report I came away from the auction three hours after I first arrived, one bicycle richer and $36.75 poorer. I didn’t want to wait the extra few hours for the computers, so I decided to go home with two WHIDI list items gone and one more lesson learned.

That lesson? Don’t take a compact car to an auction when your goal is to take home a bicycle.

Kevin Wilson is a columnist for Clovis Media Inc. He can be contacted at 763-3431, ext. 313, or by email: kwilson@cnjonline.com

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