There’s a Portland tradition that I find irresistible: the free pile. After a garage sale, you put everything that you didn’t sell on the sidewalk or street and let people have at it. Sometimes they’re full of junk, but more often than not, there’s something of (relative) value there.

Last Monday, I was in a well-off neighborhood pawing through a pile when a man approached me.

Man: Find any $50 bills?

Me: Not yet.

Man: The correct answer is, “I don’t pick up small change.”

We pick through the pile quietly for a few minutes.

Man: There’s another pile at 57th and Hawthorne. See if you can find any 50’s up there.

Me: Thanks, but I don’t pick up small change.

Man: I was just testing you.