Commentary at the Bins

Thursday morning bins were alright. I woke up at 4 a.m. to get a couple hours of writing done. Made it to the bins just after the doors had opened and the man with the powdered hair was already walking the aisles with his hands behind his back, talking to people. 

The most-trafficked part of the warehouse is the back part. Three rows of bins full of media, electronics, random valuables. Cigar boxes. Skateboards. Seems every ten days there’s a new batch of diabetic testing strips and lancets which I guess means somebody doesn’t need it anymore, where they’re going. This is the section where I found a prosthetic leg one time. It was expensive and flesh-colored and had the name “Maria” written in Sharpie near the groin, with hearts. 

Since movies are what I know best, second to books, I started reselling with a focus on $1 DVDs from Salvation Army and Goodwill, thinking I’d know what kinds of movies people buy and the kinds they don’t. What I learned is there’s almost no single movie that generates more than one or two dollars profit for a reseller. Occasionally I’ll go on the eBay app and scroll through DVDs that’ve sold in the United States for $10 or more in the past ninety days.It’s always a police procedurals from the UK. Third season of a show you’ve never heard of. Anime gets pretty expensive. You’re not supposed to sell porn on eBay but if you look at the VHS tapes being sold for notable prices it’s all gay porn from the ‘80s, Every now and then a copy of Transformers will sell for $9,999 and the only reason I think it’s probably not some kind of money laundering scheme is because surely that’s way too obvious. 

But at the bins this morning I came across two seasons of X-Files on DVD in great condition. They were right there staring at me so I checked eBay and saw that they were selling for almost twenty bucks each. More had been sold in the past 90 days than were presently on sale. 

I put them in my shopping tote and the man with the powdered hair moseyed over and leaned on the bin at a muscled angle, flexing. Clicked his tongue to get my attention and gave a sympathetic wince. “DVDs don’t sell on eBay.” Then shrugged. Started turning away. “I try tellin people but,” and shrugged again, winced again, “that’s just me.”

I also found a first edition hardcover of The Letters of F. Scott Fitzgerald, 1960s, edited by Andrew Turnbull, so I grabbed that without looking it up, thinking it’d be worth $20 to $40 at least. Turns out I was pretty optimistic. 

Also found a twelve-disc set of Rolling Stones singles.

Got home and listed everything on eBay. Both seasons of X-Files sold within twenty-four hours. Each one cost $1.50 and sold for $17-20. The Rolling Stones collection cost $3 because it was so many disks and ultimately sold for $25. 

I’d sold a book about Charles Manson but once the buyer sent me the money I couldn’t find it. Book’s called Manson in His Own Words. I messaged the buyer after three days of searching and apologized for the delay and asked if he wanted a refund. He wrote back promptly saying “no,” and “please,” and “I just really want that book.” 

I told him OK, I’d keep looking.

Turns out the book was in my trunk.

I sighed when I found it. Pulled my phone out on the spot and drafted a message to the buyer. “Dear Maniac…”


Also sold an early minimalist DVD release of Evil Dead 2 for $8 (cost a buck at Salvation Army). While handling the package I realized that the DVD commentary track for Evil Dead 2 might be the first I ever listened to. That was early in high school on a rainy afternoon at home. Classes were canceled because a hurricane was coming, and Miami-Dade County declared a state of emergency, but then the storm skewed off track, and I got to stay home and watch Evil Dead 2. I remember I felt lonely, though, so I played it with the commentary track because that felt like I was watching it with people and I ended up learning a lot. 

I mentioned all that in a handwritten note that I slipped into the package, when I sold this DVD to someone named Cameron who lived in a midwestern dormitory.It is one of my laws as a store owner: I will tell you about myself.

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