Collectors on a mission: do you have what it takes to be Indiana Jones?

This may surprise you, but I am convinced that those of us who will cross rivers, climb mountains, and jump out of railroad cars to find the objects of our desire have much in common with Harrison Ford’s character in the Indiana Jones series. Obsessed collectors are a tough breed and could replace Ford at any time. Maybe it’s time Spielberg recognized our abilities and added some of us to his short list for future adventure films.

I’ve been thinking about how much like Indiana Jones we are ever since Raiders of the Lost Ark hit the big screen, but I haven’t dared to share my suspicions until now. What has prompted me to spill the beans? Yes, you’re right… it’s the recent release of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. The confidence to speak on this subject comes from finding myself right in the middle of all the movie action last summer when Harrison Ford and Steven Spielberg zoomed past me while I was filming in New Haven, Connecticut. How lucky I was that my daughter just moved into an apartment inches from “the set.”

I fought through the crowd to watch in awe as Spielberg and Ford zoomed through the town of Elm in one of those “director-type trucks” with onboard cameras. From noon to dusk, I joined other mesmerized fans to watch in excitement as vintage cars and buses race down Chapel Street, New Haven. For me, a retro enthusiast, I can’t tell you how cool it was to see all the Chapel storefronts converted to look like 1950s stores. My favorite was Woolworths because the storefront looked like the cover of my first book, Hot Kitchen & Home Collectibles of the 30s, 40s, 50s. Had he known that Spielberg was “doing Woolworth,” he would gladly have sent him a copy of my book for reference. And if Spielberg had called me, I would have been happy to provide him with some boxes of old shoelaces and some cans of moths for his window display.

So let me get back to the heart of the matter, why I’m confident in saying that all of us who think about 24/7 tag sales and climb tall buildings looking for someone else’s junk, are well prepared to be substitutes for Ford… like Indiana. Jones, we approach “the hunt” with passion, enthusiasm and boundless energy. When we get bitten by the collecting bug, we run out of the house and get lost for hours and sometimes days on our quest to find some hidden treasure we must have. Nothing and I mean absolutely nothing will stand in our way. Extreme weather, hunger pangs, full bladders, flat tires, you name it…nothing will interfere with getting to a morning estate sale or charity flea market. True collectors are determined and brave warriors with tremendous zeal and endurance.

I will be honest with you, when we are called for duty we really should have someone else drive us because we can be very dangerous on the road. We have superhero vision and we can spot a tag sale three blocks away and we’ll do nothing more than block six cars in three lanes to get there. Once the tag selling radar has been activated, we race to the finish line as if there was a fire or medical emergency. Our sixth sense for picking up clues that flea markets, garage sales, and auctions are coming up is phenomenal to witness.

But somehow, this heightened sensitivity to our surroundings falls apart when it comes to the weather. I’ve seen friends leave their coats, hats and gloves in their car as they stand in line in the bitter cold to be let into a blown-up real estate sale. When the pot of gold is so close, what’s a little frostbite here and there? Let’s face it, we’re just too excited to take the time to dress for the weather. Just as terrifying is what happens to relentless shoppers in the summer months. How many times have you seen a fellow collector overcome with heat exhaustion walking the hay-covered grounds of an outdoor antique show or flea market? Otherwise, sweat-soaked rope people, red as a lobster, can be seen making just one more purchase before collapsing.

The weather isn’t the only hurdle obsessed collectors must overcome. Equally challenging is how to survive long periods of time without food or water. How many of you, like me, rush out the door in the wee hours of the morning skipping breakfast for a chance to catch a fabulous moving sale? This is where a few mints you find in your pocket or a stale piece of bagel you forgot to throw away the day before saves the day. And the same thing I said about breakfast when it comes to stopping for lunch. Who among us will interrupt a juicy garage sale or a three-level antique store with multiple dealers for a Turkey Panini? and a bottle of spring water. When we’re in a chase, we really are too consumed with our prize to worry about such trivial matters as food and drink. Did I just write that? If we find we’re getting a little seasick, we know to dig deep into our fanny packs or purses to find a piece of hard candy or gum.

And I will point out another curious trait that I have also noticed about the “hunting types”. Like Indiana Jones, when we’re exploring what’s known as “garbage,” we rarely need to stop to go to the bathroom. I have two theories about this finding. (1) as “old warriors” we eat and drink very little while on a mission and simply don’t produce much in the form of fluids and . (2) as devoted collectors, we train ourselves to wait until dark to use the facilities because we already know from past experience that we shouldn’t expect to find a “real” toilet when we’re in the middle of a cow field or cave, dump of gold, treasure hunt in the gold attic.

In conclusion, I think I’ve made my point. If we can brave the heat and cold, survive without food, water and bathroom breaks and also carry six full shopping bags at the same time, we have what it takes to be Indiana Jones!