Sophomore Slump

Today’s post comes from perennial sophomore Bubby Spamden of Wendell Wilkie High School.

Hey Mr. C.,

Well, we’re back. It’s been a couple of weeks already and I’m feeling a little down because it’s all so familiar now. Being a sophomore is the pits – you don’t feel that freshman level of excitement and you’re still a long way from having any of the senior class coolness factor. I come to school every day with a dark cloud hanging over my head. I feel invisible, so I act out in class and get sent to the office. Ho hum, it’s all so familiar and NOT scary. When you’re a sophomore, you know the routine and you’re nothing is new – this must be what it’s like to have the same job for, like, 30 years. Blah.

Not like I know how it really feels to hold a job. I guess I just wasn’t born at the right time for that.

Mr. Boozenporn says there’s a huge demographic shift coming, though, when all the baby boomers will retire and suddenly the jobs will open up and (he says) we’ll find out that we’re not trained for the many good paying openings that will be available because we’ve been too busy just farting around in his class.

But from what my dad tells me, just farting around is a real description of the actual responsibilities of an honest-to-goodness job, and his boss has it.

is that true? Can you get away with stuff once you’re on the payroll?

Everything I see on TV says pretty much the opposite – that people are getting fired left and right all the time for no reason at all, especially if they work for Donald Trump.

Anyway, I’m kind of excited about all the cool jobs that will pop up when you and your old friends finally go into the nursing home and get out of our way. And just think – when all those good paying jobs get claimed by the brightest minds of my generation, who’s going to be left to do the crummy, low paying work of fluffing pillows and changing bedpans for the likes of you?

I’ll tell you who – it’ll be the kids who farted around in class. So tell Mr. Boozenporn to let me and my friends goof off! It may seem like we’re just being jackasses, but actually we’re practicing to be your caretakers!

Sincerely,
Your friend,
Bubby Spamden.

I find it hard to argue with Bubby’s logic, strange as it is. His poor scholarship and inability to resist peer pressure may be the only thing things left in this world that bode well for my comfortable retirement. But first they have to let him graduate.

What’s the lowest paying job you ever had?

108 thoughts on “Sophomore Slump”

    1. Ooops. I meant guest blogging.
      My first paying job was turning the crank on a grindstone for a nickle an hour. Then babysitting for 50 cents an hour. Then a job from which they withheld taxes was maintenance at a summer camp which figured at about 65 cents an hour, not counting room and board but I did work about 60 hours a week. Then I was a janitor at a whole one dollar.

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  1. Morning all! Poor Bubby — what he doesn’t realize is by the time a lot of the baby boomers can afford to retire, he probably won’t be a spring chicken hiimself anymore!

    If you count babysitting, then that’s my lowest — .25/hour when I first started sitting. If you count “real” jobs then waitress at the Country Kitchen in Northfield clocks in as my lowest. And you couldn’t count on tips to swing the balance at a place like Country Kitchen – unless you had Eileen’s 6 am to 1 pm shift.

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  2. mann france ave drive in paid one dollar an hour, cleaning up the arking lot and the consession stand. a friend got me in, i got two friends in and we had a mann france ave culture for the first time mr welsh could remember. i got fired for going on a road trip without the proper clearance. they must have had a popcorn crisis in the south lot.
    i also sold magazine subscriptions in poor neighborhoods in 5th grade. we only got paid if we sold a subscription. most kids were gone after 3 or 4 days of no sales, i always had a sale or two but the job was so lame and the company so slimey that after a week i had had it. 6 16 year olds on the back of boss mans big ol cadillac. then on to the nursing home. great people bad pay. entrepreneurship here i come. worked construction and factory work before i started faking it like i do today.

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    1. I was tempted to take one of those magazine selling jobs. I think I talked with someone about doing it. I don’t think I got the job or maybe I quit after trying it out. That is probably a memory that I am suppressing. It was a similar setup to the one you described, tim. A crew of young guys came through our area doing that not long ago.

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  3. Good morning. Probably the first year I started selling my services as a crop consultant was my lowest paying job. I was not a great business person so it took me a few years to get going as a self employed person and even in the best year the profits were not very high. In 1959 I got my first job working at McDonalds. I can’t remember how much I was paid for working there. It wasn’t a lot, but it was enough to satisfy me at the time.

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  4. Like VS, if we count babysitting, that’s where I started. Maybe 50 cents an hour, though I recall some gigs at 25 cents and hour, too. I worked for a bit at a florist shop, but even though the pay there wasn’t great, it was a good job so I don’t know that i count that one. Worst paying job was working “security” at the Metrodome (actually I was a glorified usher). One penny over minimum wage, double-knit polyester and baseball fans drunk on 3.2 beer. Yay. I quit before it was football season.

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  5. I think some neighbor guy paid me 50 cents to mow his lawn (with a manual mower). Even before that, I delivered newspapers for several years, and I’m sure the pay was no better than half a dollar an hour for that.

    The job I liked, though it paid badly, was “setting” at the Izaak Walton club grounds. They had a trap range and a skeet range. Kids like me were hired to sit inside the bunkers putting clay birds on the machines that threw them when the shooters yelled “pull!” The skeet range was easy for the pace of shooting was so slow you had plenty of time to get the bird cued up and the machine cocked. But the trap thrower was a nasty machine that moved all the time, and you had just seconds to get each clay bird lined up perfectly before that mechanical arm whipped the bird out. I got my fingers rapped painfully several times. Still, it was a delight to hang out with the men who shot at that club. I have wonderful memories.

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    1. The trap setting job reminds me of another job, pin setting at bowling alleys. That’s been done by machine for many years, but there was a time when they had people in the back of the alley who picked up the pins and put them in the rack that placed the pins. I don’t why I remember that job and I never worked as a pin setter. For some reason or the other the people who set pins attracted my attention when I went bowling as a kid.

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      1. I knew a guy who sustained quite a head injury while setting pins. He got clocked in the head with a bowling ball when a bowler didn’t know he was still setting the pins.

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  6. Baby sat for 50 cents/an hour for 6 kids so thought it was a real deal when I worked at the library shelving books $1.80/hour 2 hours/day 5 days/week and 3 hours on Saturday.

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  7. Morning-
    Fun job stories.

    I remember getting $0.25 as allowance per week and then it was bumped up to $0.50. When I was 10 Dad said I would start helping milk every night. I asked for a raise to 75 cents and Dad said he’d pay $1.00. (I was down in the barn all the time anyway. Anyone remember when you could use the old phone to call another phone in the house? I think you just dialed the number and hung up and the phone would ring. Mom, in the house, would call Dad, in the barn, and tell him to send me up for my bath).
    A lot of theater jobs are low pay if not volunteer. It took a while to learn the art of show BUSINESS. I keep track of hours spent working on shows but it’s better not to break it down into an hourly rate. It can be discouraging if I do.

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  8. I was rudely awakened this morning at 6:30 by daughter, who wanted me to sit with her while she ate breakfast. She works at her barista job today from 7-3. She works every Saturday and every day after school from 2-7. (She gets out of school early as she has an off hour the last period of the day). Yesterday an customer asked her in all seriousness if she owned the shop, as she was there so much. She gets almost $12.00 an hour, plus tips. She stuffs the tips in her glove box every night after work. Sometimes the tips are as much as $30 for a four hour shift, just for making coffee drinks. She doesn’t even wait tables. I think she would be appalled by the paltry sums baboons were making when they were her age. Young people here are getting a very unrealistic idea about the availability of jobs and high wages, as we are such an economic anomaly. Everyone needs workers and they can’t get them. The only dry cleaner in town is closing because the owners can’t find enough workers.. Now that is a real inconvenience for the town. Who wants to drive 190 miles to Bismarck and back to the dry cleaners and then retrieve it a week later? I don’t even remember what I earned at babysitting jobs when I was in high school, but $1.50 an hour sounds about right. Maybe Bubby wants to consider work in the oil field. He could earn $70,000 a year just driving a water truck, but the down side is that it is generally very dangerous work and if he worked on the rigs he could very easily get killed or maimed.

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    1. The teenager is also on easy street compared to some of our early wages. She is a gymnastics coach – started as a junior coach when she was 14. She makes above minimum wage and works 3-4 times a week. For babysitting she routinely makes $5 or more an hour, depending on the number of kids. Almost makes me want to take up babysitting!

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    2. tell the teenager to offer to buy the dry ceaners customer list and then pay to have stuff cleaned where ever and mark it up 20% it all someone elses money. arrange a pick up or drop off and away you go. have her turn on her entrapreneural brain over there in the land of opportunity. i hear you can make a great living selling gloves to the workers. i ll bet thats a different crowd than the dry cleaning crowd though

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    1. I drove an ice cream truck and my pay was 6 cents a bar. My truck was a reconstituted mail truck so I could be curbside when I stopped. The freezer was not electric… just a bunch of dry ice in amongst the ice cream bars and popsicles. I started wearing some long black gloves of my mothers so I didn’t get freezer burn. My truck said Hav-a-Bar on the side. OH, and I had to buy gas out of my commission… 30 cents a gallon.

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  9. Of course, the hardest job I’ve ever done is the one that pays no money at all – parenting. But since it does have many other non-tangible rewards and perks, I suppose we’re not counting it, right?

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  10. I’ve done my fair share of low paying jobs. In addition to babysitting when I was a teen, I worked early evenings at a hotdog stand in Copenhagen until the owner of the stand got “too friendly,” if you get my drift. Dad paid me 50 øre for mowing the lawn (and yes, of course, it was a push mower), but I paid a neighbor boy 25 øre for doing the work and pocketed the change. I guess that makes me an early venture capitalist, but that career lasted only one summer.

    I think my lowest paying real job was my first au pair job for the Danish diplomat’s family in Moscow. $60.00 per month plus room (a very small one) and board! For that princely sum the wife thought that I should be working pretty much around the clock. I had Sundays, plus half a day every other week, off. I had a stroke of good luck when the family was sent back to Denmark after I had worked for them three weeks, I was free to find myself another job.

    My second job with the American family was much better. $90.00 per month, a much nicer room, a regular 8-hour work day, plus every weekend free. Probably the best job I’ve ever had. I was treated like a valued member of the family, and invited as a guest to all their parties where I could hobnob with the likes of John Steinbeck, the Russian poet Yevtushenko, the actress Marlene Dietrich and a wide range of other lesser known artists. Skaters from Holiday on Ice, dancers from the Bolshoi Ballet, Russian painters and writers were regulars at these casual get-togethers, a very fun time for an impressionable twenty-one year old.

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      1. Clyde, in retrospect, I realize how truly blessed I’ve been. As a clueless 21 year old, the only two people I had ANY appreciation of what they had accomplished were Steinbeck (he was thrilled that I had read all his books) and Marlene Dietrich (I had never seen any of her films, but, of course, knew who she was). I’ve come to appreciate Yevtushenko later. None of it any credit to me. Strictly serendipity.

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        1. it sounds like you are comfortable with folks who are wowsers to others. i think that celebrities appreciate being able to have a normal conversation and not a worshiping awestruck slackjawed stammerers they run into too often. i like that you and hans hang with will steger and the ely crowd. hes a live spirit who is wonderful i am sure when he is not on centerstage spotlight. the couple of times ive chatted with him he was looking past the conversation at the mission and it was obvious that his best conversations are when he is able to do it a little differently. its nice to catch folks when they are comfortable. i meet authors and am about 50-50 impressed and disappointed in teir approach to their lot in life. come to think of it thats about the ratio with other folks too. hmmmm

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        2. tim, I’ve come to appreciate that even “famous” people are human. Will doesn’t seem at all like a celebrity to me, probably because of the relationship we have. It’s sort of humbling to realize that Will will hike a distance (from his houseboat on the Mississippi in downtown St. Paul) to our house, if there’s something that we can do for him that no one else can. Will is a great guy, and VERY good at recognizing where his best resources are. Will is short of stature, but DO NOT underestimate him; he’s one of a hell of a determined guy; once he’s put his mind to something, it will come to pass.

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        3. i dont think celebrities seem like celebrities unless you are involved in one of those people who do all the frufru stuff. its nice when normal people step up to their celebrity life rather than a johnny depp having to try to be a normal guy walking down the street until he is recognized. steinbeck got to hide a bit because his book covers are where you see him dietrich had the good fortune bad fortune of being the face of the times. i love meeting with the authors and artists i do every year and seeing how they view their place in the world. it is an interesting study in human nature.

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  11. Probably washing glassware (bloody test tubes) in the hospital lab for $.75 an hour in 1965. But I didn’t have to support myself on that, at least. Most impoverished was first year of teaching, 1970, when I had to live on just under $6,000 a year. That’s when you need roommates, and no car.

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      1. 1968 first year of teaching in Center City MN. Full time teaching plus five extra-curricular paid positions equaled $5875. I do remember that one of my friends started at IBM for just under $10,000 the year before that.

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        1. I do recall that our rent on the basement apartment in 1965 was $62.50 per month. I don’t recall exactly how much wasband’s pay from the Air Force was, but as I recall, our rent was roughly 1/3 of it. We were also making payments on his 1963 VW. Mr. Armstrong paid me $1.25 per hour for working in his watchmaker’s shop in the PX on base, 3 hours a day, 5 days a week. Of course, gasoline was only 24 cents a gallon, but we still couldn’t afford to go anywhere. Them were the good ol’ days!

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        2. We rented the first floor of an old House in Lindstrom for $85 including utilities. We also were Luther League advisers and ended up adding in the Catholic and Methodists youth groups. I think I may have been home less than two week nights a week. But it was a wonderful year. Great times. We even ended up surrogate parents for twin senior boys who are live-long friends and godparents of our son.

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        3. At one time in my distant past, a friend and I rented an entire house (a very small house, but a house), in the woods, for $25 a month. That was cheap even then, but I still can’t believe it.

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  12. 50 cents an hour would take care of babysitting and one that hasn’t been mentioned yet – ironing (for my mom)! With seven kids, there was a large amount of ironing, and she realized that I liked making money – I would sometimes iron for an hour or two at a time, several times a week! There was no perma-pressed stuff. (And we did not iron sheets or a large number of other things I have heard mentioned when I bring this up.)
    A real job – I worked in the apple barn at Stillwater Orchards for $1 an hour as a teenager – selling apples – and I was so good I got a raise to $1.25. On the other hand it was a concrete floor, and on weekends we sometimes worked from 10 in the morning until 8 at night, and it was hard to even get your lunch eaten when it was busy. I remember coming home and crying because my legs and feet hurt so much. It made the days we went to school and could only work a couple of hours seem like a vacation.

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    1. Vicky, I like your story about putting in long hours at the apple barn. My father came from a family that didn’t turn away from hard work and I have inherited a little of that characteristic. I think it is good to have that experience that you had putting in a long day. Of course, it isn’t really fair to ask anyone, especially a young person, to work so hard. However, I think that finding out at a young age that you can work extra hard if that seems to be what you need to do, is a good thing.

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      1. I think you’re right, Jim. I have only done one other retail job since then, but it was good to feel as though you could be that useful to somebody. The good thing was it was seasonal, so by late November we were mostly done (sold out, actually). The bad thing was it was seasonal, so you had to work really hard during the season.

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      2. Nothing teaches the value of money like a wretched job that pays poorly. Young folks should all have such a job once before they accumulate poor grades in college. Nothing teaches politeness like a job working with the public, like the returns area of Target. And women friends tell me that everyone should be a waitress for just a day or two to appreciate what that is like.

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    2. Wish my mom had paid me for ironing! Or any chore around the house for that matter. Chores were considered part of “what you do to be part of the family”. By the time I was in high school, I really hated that phrase. Fast forward years and I’ve found myself saying it to the Teenager. I hate it when that happens!

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      1. I used to tell my students that whatever the thing was that their parents did that drove them nuts; that thing they would do to their children. And that as they were doing it they would say to themselves “why am I doing this?’ but they keep right on doing it. I bet 100 students have told me that came true.

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      2. Hmmm… My mom didn’t pay for most chores. But the ironing was endless, and I think open rebellion of some sort would have happened if she had required me to iron five to ten hours a week. We were rowdy children, and nobody else could iron without burning stuff. So I got paid.
        Helping load hay and clean the horse barn, picking chokecherries for jelly, working in the garden, stuff like that – we didn’t get paid. On the other hand, picking apples in our little orchard – we did get paid, because my dad felt like that was a business. (50 cents an hour to start with).

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        1. The Hennepin County Library system has the BBC version on DVD. I am catching up (finally), thanks to my local library, and patience while I wait for my name to rise to the top on the wait list.

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  13. polishing silver at the banff springs hotel was the best job i never did. i got hired and was given the skeleton key to my staff dorm room where i was ready to move ina dn get started until my friend in town noticed how much i was liking the town and warned me that many eople in the ton had been hypnotically stuck in banff for years for no appearant reason and that if i wanted to make good my escape now woud be a good time to do it. i left town an hour later and blew up my vw engine after discovering i had put it together wrong and i went and gave my notice to the boss i wasnt coming in (after unsuccessfully trying to ditch town) rebuilt my engine in a day and was on the road 48 hours later. found out the road was not for me and came back to minneapolis to being this glorious life i have led in the 40 years since. i alays felt bad about running out so quickly, a couple of months at the banf springs hotel with people i really enjoyed couldnt have been all that bad. couda shoulda woulda. the pursuit of art music and vw mechanics led me to where i am today.

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      1. it was just an inside group of restraunt workers and shopsweepers who found a wonderful network of kindred spirits who loved hanging out in one of the most beautiful places in the world and having access to all that life has to offer in a communal kind of a time and place. there were 30 or 40 folks who hung together and did stuff socailly and had skiing hiking climbing reading art music drinking camping kind of stuff. i enjoyd my month there and if the email facebook connections of today were in existance then i would still be in touch. i dont even know most peoples last names. kind of like the blog.

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  14. i a sorry to say i am not going to amke the bbc tomorrow. daughter is pitching and i cant miss that stuff, i wish they didnt do it on sundays during football season but so it goes. i wish i was going to be there . if anyone has skype capabilities i may ask to be piped in between games or something,

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    1. Too bad you can’t be at bbc, tim, but I’m sure you will have a fine time watching your daughter pitch. Maybe you could write a book report for a guest blog, since I’m sure you have some good thoughts about the assigned reading.

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  15. Good morning. I think the first thing I did to make a little money was catch crickets for a guy who sold them for fishing bait. I think I got a penny for each cricket that I caught. I don’t see this kind cricket here in Minnesota. I could find these big black crickets under boards and stones.

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    1. My ex was a smoker and paid our kids a nickel for every cigarette butt they picked up in the yard. This worked until they grew older and were repulsed at the very idea. After that he paid his younger niece and nephew to do it.

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  16. Greetings! The lowest paying and worst job I had was working one college summer at a Green Giant facility in Glencoe. They bussed us in from the U of MN Twin Cities campus and we worked 12 hours shifts. I think we only got days off when it rained or the corn wasn’t picked that day. It was awful noisy, dirty and standing on concrete floors all day sorting or cutting corn. Usually we would try to sleep on the hour (or more) bus ride to and from the plant. Because once you got home, you barely got 8 hours sleep and it was time to get up again. The people who made the best money were students with quick hands who worked on the corn cutting floor. The more corn cobs you shoved through per hour for canned corn got you higher wages. After a few weeks, I got a raise because I was a hard worker, but I was just sorting corn — the nice ears went upstairs to be cut for frozen corn cobs. Miserable job.

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      1. I got home last night. I put 1400 miles on my car! I went all the way up to Copper Harbor on the Keweenaw Peninsula (sp?) and drove south around the east side. I hiked in the Porkies a few times, as well as in some other out-of-the-way places. I enjoyed sunsets on the beach over Lake Superior and slept until 8:30 in the morning (they’re on eastern time over there, but still…) Fall colors are gorgeous there – some wine red and purple colors we don’t have here. I also went to Duluth (a town that’s hard for me to leave), then Two Harbors, then drove home through Wisconsin yesterday. Pippin was along for the ride and survived the entire trip without throwing up once – I’m so proud of him! It was really, really good to get away.

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        1. welcome back. i heard you got to keep the entire gsate form the rock bend music festival. thanks for all your work over the years in making the festival possible. you can quit now. you have my permission. you have made your contibution to society. now watch and enjoy.

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    1. I’ve had several non-profit businesses. I didn’t plan it that way, that’s just the way it turned out. I’d probably go broke if I had a lemonade stand in a desert, and selling cosmetics or baby pictures door to door, didn’t work out either.

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      1. Oh yeah, the lowest paying job I had was the online bookselling business I had for a while – didn’t even break even, and now I have all these books left over from it. I better start bringing a few to book club every time I come and then conveniently forgetting to bring them home with me.

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        1. Love love love Freecycle. I have had a couple of things not get taken when I offered them, but mostly there is someone who wants whatever it is that I want out of my house. Found a couple good things, too.

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