The Key to My Hidden Treasure
I have always been attracted to bargain bins, garage sales and rummage sales. I marvel at those people who have their unique items assessed, during the Antique Road Show, at values hundreds or thousands of times higher than what the owner had originally paid. Always on the lookout for that necessary kitchen gadget or hidden treasure, I venture off twice a year to work at our church rummage sale. I found that treasure this time but not where, nor how I had expected to find it. Unknowingly, I have carried the secret key to that treasure inside of me for over 25 years.
It was near the end of the October rummage sale. I was given the challenging and rather dubious honour, of working at what is generally dubbed the “Men’s Table.” Our task had been somewhat daunting at the start, however we were nearing the end of the sale. The selection was down to a minimum with a few odds and sods left, including an old microwave. A customer came up and started inquiring about various objects. With 3 hours of bartering experience under my belt, I was prepared to stand my ground and make a deal. This guy was going to be a challenge and I was ready. As we started moving into position for the stand off, I began to sense that I was going to have my hands full. Not only was this gentleman good at negotiating a lower price (maybe I was getting tired), but, he seemed to want to buy everything! He didn’t even know (nor did I) what some of the stuff was, yet he was interested in buying it. He didn’t seem to have a lot of money yet he was eager to spend. He was definitely a contradiction to the usual “bargain hunting” shopper.
As I became more aware of my customer’s intent I began to wonder about his real motive. He kept saying that he wanted to help our church. I finally got up the nerve to ask him why he would buy something for the mere sake of spending his money. He explained to me that he had been in Canada for a short time and that he knew our church. Our church had helped him and other immigrants, with furniture and other necessities of life. He now wanted to be able to give back a little by helping us with our sale.
After 3 inquiries into the price and working condition of the microwave, he asked about its weight. It turned out that he had a short walk home. He had already purchased a number of bulky items and wondered if he would also be able to manage the microwave. This rather unique gentleman had somehow managed to weave a path to my heart. I offered to give him a ride home, along with his newly acquired and extremely heavy microwave and his other prized possessions.
As we walked to the car I found the key to a buried treasure, long lost but suddenly found. My new found friend is from Iraq. Reaching back in the recesses of my memory, I remembered a phrase that my Pakistanian neighbour from my childhood had taught me in Arabic. I wasn’t sure of its exact meaning, however I remembered that it is a way of saying: “Hello.” When I spoke these words: “Asalam Aleikom” a sparkle, perhaps a tear of joy, came to this stranger’s eyes. He told me that this was the nicest thing I could have ever said to him. He said it means: “To be in Peace with you.”
I believe that everything we do in life has a purpose. I suddenly understood why I had my neighbour teach me that phrase 25 years ago and why I had remembered. The look of happiness and joy that those words produced is difficult to describe. No longer strangers, we have exchanged phone calls, met for coffee and he has joined our family for an occasional meal. He experienced his first Hallowe’en as he joined us for “Trick or Treating”.
I am certain that there was a reason our paths crossed. I am also certain that money could not buy such a precious Rummage Sale treasure.
Take Care and Keep Smiling,