At the front counter was a pleasant older woman, and nearby were two shoeboxes filled with....baseball cards. "Mind if I look at these?" I asked.
"Oh, certainly, dear, they just came in. I haven't priced them yet."
The boxes were filled with neatly stacked piles of these 1956 Topps cards. Not reprints. I decided to count them. It took a while, but gave me a chance to carefully assess every card. There were 340.
"Do you have any idea when these might be available?" I asked.
"I guess when I can find someone to help me get a sense of how much they cost. What would you be willing to pay?"
Because there were so many smile cards, not to mention quite a few midair moments, plus the card didn't have many dinged corners, and since this was a charity outfit and I didn't want to feel guilty, I said, "Well, what are you asking?" Often, people accuse me of being extravagant, but mainly I wanted to be fair.
The woman was clearly interested in a transaction. She had many contributions to process, and perhaps wanted to get rid of these two boxes of baseball cards that were kind of in her way.
"Baseball cards don't sell very well here. How about 10 cents per card?"
"I'd pay that for them, but I'm not saying that's what they're worth. I bet some are worth a lot more. But my eight-year-old daughter would like these. They're like little pieces of art. I'll take them."
She seemed pleased, and even asked if I needed help getting the boxes out to the car. "Oh no, I'm fine," I said.
This turned out to be a bad decision, because as I opened the back of the van, the two boxes fell to the ground, and just then, one of those enormous gusts of New Mexico dust devil wind came along, and the cards were carried aloft. I considered trying to find some of them, but really had to get home.
Easy come, easy go, I guess. But even for those few minutes, I enjoyed owning a complete set of 1956 Topps cards.