As recent as last week, I was entertaining a group of acquaintances about my junking adventures. Ok, let me back up. I was helping our local FFA advisor at a competition. He introduced me to a sampling of the many FFA advisors there, one who happened to be my Uncle Kevin (an FFA celebrity, nonetheless). Although I probably should have been asking about how I can assist in tabulating the crops contest or dodging the poultry judging (both of which I did), leave it karma that junking gets brought up. So, there I was talking junk with a crowd of men. One ended up handing me his business card with an invitation to pick at his grandfather’s estate, another shared his stories of the hobby farm he operates, and Nick (my colleague) ended with saying, “Jenny, you have to tell these guy the cash register story. It’s such a good one.”
The cash register. Oh, the cash register. It always seems to slide it’s way into a conversation. I’ve heard my mom tell the cash register story many times. My dear friend Leah (once the operator of the cash register at my annual fall sale) jokes about it occasionally (she secretly likes it’s ding), and I hear Junk Hunk mutter some profane words when hauling it. My kids ADORE playing with it. Customers are always baffled by it’s charm and often surprised by it’s functionality.
My most prized junking possession is my cash register of which I will never part with. When I think about our history together, I really owe my start to junking and wheeling/dealing to the acquisition of my cash register.
Just out of college, early in my adult life, I recall my love of antique shops, flea markets, and garage sales. I was in a bit of an identity crisis, however. At the time, I would have coined myself an antique’r. I even had personalized license plates that read: ANTIQ-R. I quickly learned the beautifully restored pieces were lovely, just not my style (or in my budget). As my identify shifted from an antique’r to a junker, my passion was unleashed. At this same time in my life, my then high school sweetheart and I were preparing our starter home as a newly married couple. Not long after did Jon’s high school sweetheart title shift to Junk Hunk. As we made cosmetic changes to our cute little starter home, my vintage style emerged. Our house often looked more like a store, packed to the brim with what looked like inventory. Even upon baby Ethan’s arrival, the cluttered, eclectic look stuck; we just added baby toys to the mix. I styled our kitchen to look as if you had walked into an old general store. A Hoosier cupboard with a flour sifter sat perched in the kitchen. Tin signs marketing candy for 5 cents or flour & sugar were plastered on the walls. Jars of every type and size were filled with old fashioned candy and the staple items. Can you tell where this story is going? The missing item was a vintage cash register. So, I was always on the look-out for an old cash register. During my identity crisis of the antique’r vs. junking battle, I would often find the pristine cash registers with the hefty price tag.
On a whim, my mom and I had randomly stopped at a dilapidated little shed during a shopping trip. The rickety old sign on the building read, “Flea Market.” However, what greeted us inside was more of a garage sale feel. It certainly wasn’t a traditional store. The lighting was dim and the ambiance was nothing to speak of. While my mom made small talk with the lady behind the counter, I lingered for a bit. I noticed the little old shop lady visiting with my mom to be a bit grouchy. I recall her complaining and less than welcoming. I also recall digging in my pocket, only to realize I only had a ten dollar bill. So, I knew my spending limit was slim. Frustrated with the lack of customer service or even a smile from the shop keeper, I began my quick run through of the 2-room shed. Random tables housed everything from old dinnerware to rusty hand tools. Just when I thought I would leave empty handed, it’s like the heaven’s opened and an angelic choir filled that dinky old shed. There she was, stuffed in a corner, amidst other random junk. My cash register. The old price tag was so faded, the price was hard to make out. I called my mom to the shed’s back corner and said I needed it. It was a 2 person job to move the lug of a cash register. We decided the tag read $70. As my mom and I wrangled the cash registered while we weaved through the crowded shed, I shared with her I only had a $10 bill in my pocket. I also told her my plan to pull a fast one on the grumpy shop keeper while she best prepare the get-away car. Now, this is where the story could make me sound a bit sneaky, manipulative, or perhaps even cruel. While the shop keep peered through her reading glasses in the dimly lit shed, she muttered something about the $10 deal. I quickly slapped my $10 bill on the counter and in a convincing manner acted just as surprised by the $10 price tag. The worn price tag truly looked more like $10 than the actual $70. I went skipping out of that shed, with a heavy cash register strapped to my back, happy as a lark.
My cash register is and will always be my forever piece. My $10, steal-of-a-deal , forever piece.