On Saturday morning, I attended Miami International Airport’s semiannual auction of abandoned baggage because 1) I suspected a scam and 2) I wanted to know what breed of humanity shows up for such an affair (besides shameless bloggers) and why.
Approaching the auction site, a musty storage room on the third floor of an ugly, glass office building on MIA’s northern fringe, I passed a man pushing a dolly stacked four boxes high toward the elevator. There was a light-brown fedora atop the stack of boxes, its brim almost as wide as the man’s smile.
Inside, several hundred people clamored for a hodgepodge of unbelongings: iPods, Blackberrys, surfboards, bicycles, crutches, memory sticks. An iPod, undistinguished by the auctioneer in any way (Nano? Touch? 4 gig? 80 gig?), promptly went for $200. This only strengthened my suspicion, particularly as bidders couldn’t check if anything was broken or damaged until after forking over a double-taxed, cash-only, unrefundable payment. Nonetheless, the “winning” bidder giddily took his ticket.
There were two main auctioneers, one a middle-aged Latino who looked like a third-base coach with his goatee and windbreaker jacket, the other a wizened geezer with overgrown facial features (see photos after the jump). They both had microphones and often appeared to be working at cross purposes: talking over each other, raising the bid independently of each other, snapping at each other on occasion, even calling the bid for different people once or twice. Still, the bids grew and grew. They knew exactly what they were doing.