It happens to us all the time while my wife and I are running our estate liquidation company in the greater Maryland/Washington D.C./Virginia area that clears homes and that buys and sells all kinds of antiques and collectibles. We stop making money because yours truly gest sidetracked by an innocent animal calling out to me from under a pile of junk.
I should be making money right now because I’m supposed to be working to list items in our eBay store that’s responsible for a huge chunk of our annual revenues. I shouldn’t be sitting here, with a heavy heart, writing about rescuing a cat who is staring up at me with his green eyes, frazzled tail, and patches of fur falling off his ears.
Not even the toy kind.
I rescued this vintage felt tin windup rollover cat on a job we did — buying a mound of vintage toys and other collectibles. This ol’ cat, from a dollars and sense accounting, is not worth saving. I’m listing it today and it might fetch us all of $20, before eBay takes its cut. It took me a minute to photograph and maybe five minutes to produce the listing. If the feline sells, I’ll have to pack it and then take it to the post office. I’m into this cat for easily half an hour of my time, which is worth way more than $17.20 or so that I’ll net — if it even sells.
(The cat may be gone by the time you read this, but it’s hanging out now in the toys section of our eBay store.)
A thousand more valuable objects sit all around me, waiting to make the cash register ring. The time I’m spending trying to find someone to adopt this cat from me is time I’m not spending on those more profitable pursuits. My sympathetic old soul just can’t bear to see any animal die.
I’m not even a cat person. I’m a dog guy. I named my company, Orion’s Attic, after the world’s greatest Siberian husky, who was named after the constellation.
But this little kitty looks up at me with green eyes, frazzled tail, and patches of fur falling off its ears … and I am helpless. I have to stop what I’m doing today to save this cat.
I might be a bit of an odd duck in that I sense a spirit in most inanimate objects — especially animals. Call me The Junk Whisperer, if you will. I could be buying out a house full of high-value treasures, from old advertising pieces to fine jewelry to a rare 1933 World Series souvenir scorecard — but I’ll stop what I’m doing to spend half an hour dragging out abandoned toy animals. Then I’ll often spend a great many hours trying to find them new homes. I keep some of the ones who call out to me the most, my wife and maintaining a small petting zoo in our living room — but I do my best to sell or give away the rest.
The rescue efforts do little to enhance our bank account.
I’m ok with that.
We’re not in this business just for the money. A huge part of our mission is going to lengths our competitors won’t in order to save all kinds of items from destruction. To give things a second life.
The profit we receive comes to us in other ways.
Our reward comes from the tears that flow from elderly clients who can’t believe that we’re taking what they didn’t have the heart to throw away. It comes from the emails people send us when they buy some old toy dog that reminds them of the first pup they had as a kid. The toy may not work but nostalgia is always in mint condition.
It comes from the personal satisfaction of knowing a landfill will receive one less deposit.
Our accountant may not think much of my work on these projects, but we do.
So does a beleaguered ol’ cat with green eyes, frazzled tail, and patches of fur falling off his ears.