In my adult life, I’ve been to 3.5 auctions. Charity, estate, or the getting-rid-of-crap kind, each hosts a bit of weird nostalgia that I tend to cling to. Where else can you get dirt-cheap items that come with a backstory of their own? It’s like buying entertainment along with each thing that you already need. Two birds. (I’ve got $2 Pyrex pans, $.10 books, and a collection of retro sheets* that all tend to agree.) But the best part of the auction by far is the auctioneer, the person spitting out numbers faster than my ears can translate them.
Thirty-five, twenty, forty-five, and so on, etc. There is a general flow to which numbers are said and how often, but a flow I only minimally understand. Sure you nod, yell, or gesture when it’s your turn, but I seem to think the wrong person has the bid, or the numbers are going up faster than I want to pay for them. Though I’m told all the gibberish/chant actually tells who has the bid, it’s still beyond my auctioning abilities.
How do others know what’s going on? Have they attended enough auctions to learn the process? Or is this one of those engrained man skills that I missed out on – like directions and video games?
And once that’s sorted out, I have a whole slew of secondary questions. How do you become an auctioneer? Is there a college where everyone wears Wranglers and practices yipping? I have no proof that such a school exists, but I like to think it goes something like this:
- Week 1 – Body Language: Tactics and Gestures
This class would help minimalize mistakes, lest someone put their hair behind their ears and accidentally spend 10 grand. (This hasn’t happened per se, but it is a recurring fear.)
- Week 2 – Witty Banter
Every auctioneer ever tells jokes; either it’s a natural gift or they just know how to fill the silence with the sound of their own voice, like radio hosts.
- Week 3 – Fast Talking
Somehow the auctioneer always knows what items are worth, immediately. Either they get a list up front and do some serious eBaying, or they’ve spent thousands of hours watching The Price is Right. I hope the latter is true.
- Week 12 Graduation
By this point, pretty much every skill has been covered; those who’ve mastered are a auctioneer’s association membership away from free beer and a dream come true.
By my own standards, I’m 12 weeks away from being a certified auctioneer. Wish me luck.
*These are for craft projects, not sleeping.