LAKE CITY — Apparently, I'm the King of Garage Sales.

Which is odd, because I never carry cash and am naturally averse to two things that make an ardent garage sale shopper. First, I hate waking up early in the morning. Second, I have difficulty finding value in other people's stuff.

Still, two straight weeks I wrote stories about garage sales, first in Pine Island, then the 100-mile Garage Sale in communities along the Mississippi River.

What I do love

While I don't particularly care about invading people's driveways at the crack of dawn, I do like getting out and about to talk to people. That's the benefit I found last week as I wrote about garage sales.

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I got to walk around a neighborhood in Lake City. I drove down the road to Kellogg to interview a business owner. While there, I bought a pie for Mother's Day for my wife.

All of this is what I get to do, in part, is because the governor is dialing back those restrictions for COVID-19.

Sunshine and journalism

Somewhere, I'm sure, there's a newspaper with the motto that "truth happens in the light" or some such thing. It is a little reminiscent of the Washington Post's famous motto, "Democracy dies in darkness."

Post Bulletin reporter Brian Todd enjoys the sunny day on Thursday, May 6, 2021, while reporting on the 100-Mile Garage Sale. (Brian Todd/
Post Bulletin reporter Brian Todd enjoys the sunny day on Thursday, May 6, 2021, while reporting on the 100-Mile Garage Sale. (Brian Todd/

I'd argue that today someone needs to promote the motto that states, "Zoom meetings aren't helping reporters shine their truth lights." Don't get me wrong. I think absent zero meetings, Zoom meetings are great. And, when driving 100 miles roundtrip for a one- hour meeting is the other alternative, a Zoom meeting isn't bad.

But it gets harder and harder to connect with people when you're not in the same room. For example, if I want to talk to a source about something, it's easier for them to simply not return my phone calls or emails than it is for them to say "no comment" to my face.

I'm an easy-going guy. I don't think I've ever approached a source like Dan Rather busting down the door for a "60 Minutes" interview. I'm more of a "Hey, can I get your perspective on X, Y and Z" kind of guy.

A good example

One woman I met at the 100-Mile Garage Sale talked to me about the electric fireplace she was trying to sell. I included her comment about it in the story, and I thought it added a fun bit of color to the conversation.

But if I'm not there, I don't see her electric fireplace, and I don't get her to talk about it.

So, as the sun shines more brightly these days, and we all find ourselves getting out from behind the computer more and more with COVID-19 getting beaten (fingers crossed), I say, "Huzzah!"

Just don't expect me to buy something from your garage sale. My excitement only goes so far.

Regional Reporter Brian Todd covers Goodhue, Wabasha, Winona and Houston counties along with some cities in Olmsted County. In the After Deadline column every Thursday, he shares behind-the-scenes tales from the newsroom.