Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Pet Roosters, Broken Dryers and a Bikini Wax

(This is an essay I wrote back in the spring)

I was browsing through Craigslist yesterday looking for a washer and dryer. We are moving soon and our rental place doesn't have one.

In the past I have always bought things new. I'm the kind of person that likes instant gratification. I like to walk in buy it and walk out. I'm always disappointed when I can't actually carry it with me. Once I bought an antique blanket chest for only thirty five dollars at an auction. It was magnificent, even if no one else but me realized it at the time.

It was made of large antique boards and just needed refinishing to bring out the yellow glow of the hundred year old pine. It was the size of a chest freezer. This is no exaggeration. It was massive. I could have left it there and borrowed a pickup truck and picked it up another day, but instead I strapped it to the little Subaru hatchback that I owned at the time. I tied it on with rope and it looked like an Indian taxi by the time I was finished. The only thing missing was a few chickens peeking out of the wooden lid.

My plan yesterday was to walk into Sears and buy a washer and dryer but I wondered if I should at least give Craigslist a try first. I went to the site and saw several items, none of them very appealing. The first was a washing machine. The good news was that it was free; the bad news was that "it leaks a fair amount" according to the ad.

Who would want this, I wondered, and then I came across an ad even more brazen than the previous one. A man was selling a broken dryer with no cord, for one hundred and twenty dollars. I snorted out loud and immediately clicked the next ad. I saw a washer for thirty five dollars which was "old" as the person described it, but "still worked". I tried to imagine renting a truck, paying two guys to lug it up the stairs to our new house only to have the thing break in a week.

I drove to Sears and purchased one washer and one dryer, to be delivered April 2nd. If I could have carried them in the back of my little Saab hatchback I probably would have but at least I have solved the problem of how I am going to clean my clothes.

My father would be ashamed of me. He never buys anything new and usually looks for the most difficult possible way to purchase anything. I'm sure that if he needed a washer, he would buy a broken one, order the part, borrow a truck, have it fixed, install it and find out that it cost the same as a brand new one.

He even bought his car on eBay. He had to pay someone to drive it down for him. "Couldn't you have just gone to the Subaru dealership in town and bought a used one?" No, I'm sure that would have been too easy.

Before I went to Sears I thought that perhaps I would put up a classified of my own on Craigslist. I've' never done it before and I suspected that it would probably be a waste of time but I thought I would give it a try.

I have a ring that used to belong to a friend of mine. It's a complicated story but, she needed a car and I happened to have a used one. She had no money but had an engagement ring left from her broken marriage. She asked me to sell the ring and to keep what I felt was fair and give her the rest.

The only problem? I can't seem to give the ring away in this economy. So far, no one is willing to pay even half of what it's worth. I thought I'd give Craigslist a shot and took out an ad for the ring.

When I got back from purchasing my new washer and dryer I was pleasantly surprised that two people had responded to my add The first wanting to know more about it and the second asking if the ring was in good condition. I answered and this morning found that both of the ‘interested' parties turned out to be scammers. The first was trying to get me to sell on another site "guaranteeing me many profits".

The second reply was such a pitiful scam that I laughed out loud. I am printing it here exactly as it was written to me:

"Good Day, I am happy to read from you that the item is still available for sales and to let you know that presently am not in state am in paris on business trip,I will like to purchase it from you as soon as possible.My mode of payment will be via(Alertpay).Read more about Alertpay via ( ) I will add $100 to your asking price to cover the cost of Shipment to my friend via (Express Mail Service Us Post Office)Get back to me with your full Name,Address,City,State,Country,Code and Phone Number.So that i will proceed to send the fund to you immediately"

I wondered who on earth would fall for such a ridiculous letter but apparently some people have, because craigslist has a warning a mile long about not accepting any money orders, checks or out of state inquiries. I thought it was funny and I hit the spam button but I suppose I am now stuck with my friend's engagement ring, which is not so funny.

There is a section of Craigslist with free items. This gave me much enjoyment. One pour soul was trying to give away a used sofa. They said it was in fairly good condition except for some claw marks and the fact that it smells like urine.

Another person was giving away free Roosters, but only if the person taking them promised not to eat them.

One of the more "unusual" ones involved the old system of barter. The person, a man I am presuming was offering a free bikini wax for a pair of Grateful dead tickets. In the ad he said he was, "untrained but enthusiastic."

Someone else was giving away three tons of sand that had been residing in their basement. A picture was attached showing two girls playing volleyball and there was a desperate plea saying that the sand must be removed by the middle of May. I wondered what kind of gullible parents would let their children talk them into putting three tons of sand in the basement in the first place. I shook my head and wished them luck.

There was a broken microwave available, a rusty cart and a set of box springs that the person described as "not ideal for everyday use."

I'm all for recycling but this was bordering on ludicrous. The best one was an extremely enthusiastic ad for old tires. The type was huge and manic and red. The words, "FREE TIRES, GET THEM WHILE THEYR'E HOT!!!!" leapt off the page and practically hit me in the face. Used tires? I don't know how they do things in Never Never land, where I am assuming this person comes from but here in the old U. S of A you have to pay people to take away your old tires. The standard price is three dollars a tire, that you have to PAY to get rid of them. This person made it sound as though each tire was made of gold studded, with diamonds. I suppose a little hopefulness is not a bad thing, and that I could probably use a good dose of it myself. Who knows, maybe some tire loving lunatic will drive over there today and take the whole lot of them.

In the end it makes me want to buy less stuff. I hated having to buy a washer and dryer, but unless I plan on beating my clothes against the rocks that border our new rental house, I don't really see another option. As I go through our possessions, packing and sorting everything, I just have one question; can I interest you in a slightly used, slightly dead plant that I forgot to bring in before it froze last winter. Any takers? Anyone?

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