I've been in some form of the auction business for 45 years and have viewed auctions from all perspectives – as buyer, consignor, ring man, auctioneer, clerk, sale manager and the rest.
So, I speak from some experience when I say there are some folks we'd just as soon not show up at an auction. Please, don't be any of these people:
•The Wannabe. These are young men fresh from auctioneer school who want to help by waving their arms and pointing out bidders for the professional ring men and auctioneers who don't really need their help, thank you very much.
There's one at every auction, and you can spot them because they're always overdressed in a tie and sports coat, and they are just waiting in case the real auctioneer has a heart attack and they'd be called upon to finish the sale. In 45 years I've never seen it happen.
•The Wise Guy. This person sees auctions as his opportunity for 15 minutes of fame. Years ago at John Wayne's bull sale in Arizona there was a man who'd wave a huge American flag every time he wanted to bid. He got a lot of attention and even made the local nightly news.
But, it was disconcerting because folks in the crowd didn't know if they should stand and salute, say the pledge of allegiance or, in the case of any NFL players in attendance, take a knee.
•The Wasted. Auctions and an open bar are not a good idea. While a little alcohol might grease the bidding process, it doesn't do anyone any good the next morning when it's discovered that a drunken homeless guy spent $500,000 on bulls.
•The Wishy-Washy. It was difficult for some people to make the change when we went from using buyer names to buyer numbers. When we'd ask for their number after they bought a bull or a car, they'd fumble around and have to search high and low for their bidder number.
This takes up a lot of time, and a clueless bidder can stop an auction faster than a contrarian bull that refuses to enter the sale ring.
•The Waiter. This person may never bid until after the auctioneer has said "Sold!" I don't know if someone told them that waiting so long to bid is brilliant strategy or they just couldn't make up their mind.
One minute they'll tell you an emphatic "NO!" and the next minute they're complaining to the owner of the cattle that the ring man wouldn't take their bid.
•The Winker. This bidder thinks they're being sly by bidding in the least conspicuous way possible, like a wink. The problem is, someone with a nervous tic could end up buying a 50,000-pound load of stockers off the video.
Or, 17 range bulls – as happened in Madras, Ore., one time when all the bidder thought all he bought was three. Whoops. Try fixing that!
•The Wanderer. This bidder is always on the move. He may end up bidding three times in three different sections to three different ring men on the same animal thinking he was being smart, but really he only ends up bidding against himself.
At horse sales some trainers, agents and owners actually bid behind the block, while others may bid and then disappear altogether. When the clerk or ring man tries to find them to sign a ticket, they've vanished quicker than the cream puffs at a Weight Watchers meeting.
•The Wedded. The man is saying yes and is bidding aggressively while his wife is trying to grab his arms to pin them to his side, all while shaking her head in an emphatic "NO!" Tell me, do you take the bid or not?
•The Waver. The waver has no intention of buying an animal but sees the auction as a social function or reunion. She sees a friend in the crowd and waves right about the time we're asking $10,000 for a bull.
•The Wrangler. This bidder tries to turn the auction into a negotiation. He will try to cut the bid in half every time. Auctioneers hate this. In Montana, where the auctioneers move along in $250 clips, if some wise guy tries to bid $25 he'll be completely ignored.
Believe me, I tried.
The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of Farm World. Readers may log on to www.LeePittsbooks.com to order any of Lee Pitts’ books. Those with questions or comments for Lee may write to him in care of this publication.