As Rose can tell you, I get a smile on my face (if only a small one) every time I hear a real auctioneer do his (or her) thing. It's a comforting sound to me, believe it or not, and I must have spent an awful lot of days as a child listening to the sound of an auction in progress (my folks have long been collectors and dealers in antiques). More than once, I know, I fell asleep to the sound of an auctioneer's song.
So, earlier this week, I spent a day at an auction with my parents for the first time in fifteen or twenty years, probably. They're retired now (from both their day jobs and the active antique dealing), but they still are collectors (one never recovers from that, I think), and they have the joy of having a little money to spend at auctions. And I even got a chance to buy a couple of lots at the auction (ooh--I bought a copy of the OED, and promptly gave it to my dad, since I already had one).
It was an exhausting day, I have to admit, and a powerful reminder that real, live-in-person auctions are a whole different deal than eBay (which has recently announced it's getting out of the "Live auction" business entirely). A lot of time sitting or standing while stuff you really don't care about is being sold, punctuated by a few brief moments of spending money, in potentially large quantities. And my folks filled the back of their station wagon with boxes of glass, which made them happy, I think.
And I had fun, too: if part of the attraction of collecting is the thrill of the chase, auctions are where that chase is configured as a contest--although it's not a sport. But you can literally spend a few dollars and feel like a winner. And I did.