Awaiting Auction

I was visiting an urban refuse center, a massive garbage/salvage operation with extensive grounds. It had a vertical sorting facility at its center, a multistory building, and as part of a small group I was being given a tour of the place. Eventually we all got on an elevator, and then the guide stopped the elevator on a certain floor and we got out. We found ourselves in a very large unfinished space with concrete floors and walls, like a warehouse. And the space was filled with furniture, knickknacks, books, old souvenirs, and other odds and ends. The sort of stuff you’d find at a thrift store, basically. The space had that feel to it. We were given to understand that all the objects on this floor of the building had been collected from the homes of various people who had died. It was all being stored here awaiting auction or disposal. We were all allowed to wander around and look, though the tour guide told us that this was not usually permitted.

I went over to a bookcase that was stuffed with a variety of random things. Boxes and boxes of unused Christmas cards, magazines, books, and so on. And then I noticed a handful of notebooks. They were hardcovers. Obviously daily diaries. The entries were written in black ink. The handwriting was messy but it was clear that whoever kept these notebooks faithfully wrote down each day’s events. Examining them I became very sad, because I knew they wouldn’t fetch anything at auction and therefore it could only be a matter of time before they were thrown out for good and disposed of along with everything else in this place. I tried to think of a way to save them. I approached the tour guide and offered to buy them all on the spot. Just then, the tour guide’s supervisor showed up. He happened to overhear my proposal and quickly interjected that such a thing would be impossible. The rules said that they had to go to auction and could not be removed from the space for any other reason.

I felt very disappointed, but knew that there was nothing I could do.

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