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A sad sale

But then again ...

All of the nearly 200 have the same words. Reading them all over and over again is a mind-numbing exercise but probably not as mind-numbing as seeing your own property in the Luzerne County Sheriff’s sale flyer. I can’t imagine what it must be like to see your home or business to be listed in the stilted legal jargon “Exposed to public sale by vendue or outcry to the highest and best bidders.” I had to look up “vendue.” It means “a public sale at auction.”

Outcry I had no problem with. It’s interesting, though, that the word cry slips into what looks to me to be a somewhat heartless process. There are, to be exact, 182 sales in this flyer dated Friday, Nov. 21. It’s 28 pages long. I am willing to bet that there are more than 182 stories to go along with those listings. You can read between the lines on some of them by looking at the title section. Lots of titles held by husbands and wives with one or the other deceased. Now with the spouse gone, the house is too expensive or too big or too something. The kids don’t want it or live out of state or there are no kids. The payments to the taxman are forgotten, and the property will soon be up for grabs to the highest or the best bidder. Best bidder? Who gets to decide what is best for what was a home once and is now just another line in the Luzerne County Sherriff’s sale?

Some sales I am sure are the product of divorce. Some are just business as usual. Some may even be up for sale because of criminal activity. The cold, hard fact is that we have on our hands the perfect storm of economic strife. High gas prices, tumbling stocks and rampant unemployment. Here in Luzerne County we also face the reassessment that just took place and will take effect next year unless a dark planet crashes into the sun. Many, many more of these sales will be taking place. So much so that I fear that the future Luzerne County Sheriff’s sale flyer may be the size of a set of encyclopedias. You may see that one delivered by tractor-trailer trucks.

It’s not funny, this grim prognosis. People’s lives will change. Whole neighborhoods may be looking like the streets of Centralia before this is done. I am sure that the sheriff and his department take no joy from all this. To be part of a process that in the legal words involves “seized and taken” can’t be something to look forward to during your workday.

But then again … I could be wrong.

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