A multi-part entry from observations at an auction house. Starts here.
The sharing of stories is an integral part of the AHSC. The telling of one’s story and exchanging of tales are part of the building blocks that support the AHSC. Without the communication of individual experiences in the form of tales and stories, the community itself would be very fragile indeed. Adelman and Frey (1997) noted that communication is more than a single variable in the equation that makes a community. Rather, they describe community as the result of communication. “Community itself is best regarded as a phenomenon that emerges from communication” and “Communication is thus the essential, defining feature-the medium-of community” (p. 5).
Part of the communication that occurs among AHSC members are the stories of great deals they made or almost made. These conversations build rapport among the members as they share in the common feeling of loss and hope for another opportunity in the future.
In an interview with AHSC member, L. Horton, she told me about a bargain that got away:
I walked in and there was this huge statue. It was a bronze statue. Huge. So I knew who had signed it. It was signed and everything. One out of six. This guy was going to sell it to me for twenty-five hundred dollars, if I remember right. That’s iffy. It was right in the neighborhood of twenty-five hundred dollars and I could have probably got it for less. Well, at the time I was getting married, fixin’ to move up here and I took my fiancé and I said, “Hon. I think that this is a realRemington.”
You know, the guy at the store thought it was a fake.
Long story short, I didn’t get it. He said no way are we going to get a fork lift and move that thing, you know, so many miles. I had the money and everything, you know, but he said, “No.”
I went back a couple of years ago and I walked in . . . and said, “What happened to that Remington you had in here?” I said, “Remember that big statue you had in the front of this place -that Frederick Remington?”
He said, “I gave it away.” He said, “Really, I got three thousand dollars out of it, but I gave it away.”
And I said, “You did?”
He said, “Yeah.” He said the guy who bought it had it appraised for a million dollars. And that’s a true story. And it was a real Remington.
And I think that has always sparked knowing there is stuff out there. It’s just hard to come by. You don’t think there is things out there like that, but there is.
AHSC members trade stories of loss and gain like fishermen swapping stories at the coffee shop on a Monday morning. As they sharing about the “one that got away” the members establish and sustain the community of the auction by taking on “shared meanings” that they find through the telling of their personal narratives (Adelman & Frey, 1997, p. 5).
Conversations about loss and gain also help to preserve the community itself by planting hope that the mother lode or that big fish is out there waiting to be found. Just as the fellow fishermen felt a loss along with the old man in Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea (1952), members at the auction identify with each other through the sharing of stories that relay common experiences. They can identify with that loss and hope that such a break will come to them some day.
As I heard Horton’s story, I realized that I feel a sense of camaraderie with her because of my own experience of loss at an auction. I once found a nice camera and a great lens at an auction. With other things to do, I left the auction and later found out that the camera sold for next to nothing. Only making the sense of loss greater, the auctioneer later told me I should have said something to him, because he would have sold it while I was there had he known I wanted to bid on it.
To be continued next week…
Copyright 2001 Michael Shead
All references available: http://drypixel.com/159/auction-house-social-club-references/