n00b in the b00nies

Do you ever feel you’ve landed inside the plot of a novel? In the book in my head, I’ve always been the feisty heroine in an adventure tale, overcoming hardship with ingenuity, wit and grace. Lately, I have felt more the bumbling anti-hero. And I think this may be a tragicomedy.

After the Great Yard Sale Fiasco of 2011, I decided to regroup. After several rounds of donations, I still had excess stuff.

I decided to try Craigslist again.

Mind you, I’m rather wary of Craigslist. I know that some people have used it successfully, but I have heard plenty of horror stories. Or at least general annoyance stories. But I decided that it was worth a shot.

In addition to a few for-sale items, I listed a free futon mattress. I got an email response pretty quickly:

i would like to pick up or if i remember u r really close if u could drop it off either way works for me i’m in [town] were r u located?

No, I couldn’t “drop it off,” as “really close” in fact meant 40 minutes away. And I was giving the thing away. For free.

tomarow would b fine is there a way we could meet half way its about a 40 min drive it would only b 20 if we met up ?

Hmmm…I’m giving something away to a total stranger, and you are asking me to drive 40 minutes (round trip) to give it to you? On the other hand, this would mean that I wouldn’t need to give said total stranger our address. I decided that since our grocery store was 10 minutes in that direction, and I had to go grocery shopping anyhow, I could meet him halfway.

He also wrote:

do u txt ? if yes txt me to set something up with me

Actually, I don’t really text. I have a relic of a cell phone, and I am slow and incompetent at it. However, I didn’t want to admit this. I sent him a txt.

No, really, it was a text. I am txt illiterate.

I painstakingly tapped out a few short lines using my numeric keypad. Several minutes later, after proof-reading and editing, I sent the text.

He responded within 30 seconds.

After several more similar back-and-forths, we agreed to meet at a school parking lot halfway between our towns.

I don’t want you to think that I was writing out full paragraphs or anything. I didn’t even include any parentheticals or subordinate clauses. There were several instances where I let capitalization slide, and even once where I left out a comma. Because I’m hip like that.

I found myself rather amused, and even slightly charmed, by the exchange. Here was this kid, likely half my age, who was fluent in a written language that I could decipher, but was otherwise pretty alien to me. Meanwhile, he must have found my own writing to be very formal and old-fashioned. The equivalent of how I might feel about a hand-written letter from an elderly aunt. I imagined myself sitting at an antique secretary with a sheet of stationery, dipping my pen in the inkwell, using my most careful cursive:

Dear Sir,

As regards your previous inquiry, I would be amenable to arranging our rendezvous at a point that is located in between our two places of residence. I suggest that it would be most suitable to determine a location with adequate space that we might easily station our vehicles within close proximity to each other, perhaps a sizeable place of commerce or educational institution, that we may most advantageously complete our transaction.

I hope that you will forgive the brevity of this missive, but I am presently due to deliver a platter of petits fours for the fornightly meeting of the Ladies’ Auxiliary Horticultural Society, and further I must hasten to catch the postman on his daily rounds.

Warmest regards,
Mrs. Bottomham-Pantsbury

Fast forward to this morning. John helped me shove the futon in the car. It was too big for the trunk, and we didn’t want to remove the carseats, so we lay it across the tops of the carseats. We had to have both back windows open.

At 9:56 a.m, I got another text:

Still good for today at 1130 right?

“Save for unforeseen obstacles, I shall be there as pre-arranged, fine sir.”

Ok ty c u latterZ

I got a phone call shortly before leaving, so I was running a bit late. I spent 5 minutes composing a text saying I was running 5 minutes late.

At 11:35 sharp, I found the school. The parking lot was conspicuously devoid of compact cars of the type mentioned by my text buddy. After a few minutes, I sent a text. At 11:47, the guy called to say he’d overslept. (Dude, you texted me at 10 am! Whatevs.) The guy was really apologetic and said he felt like crap for doing this to me. He said he could be there in 20 minutes. Not really enjoying the thought of another 20 minutes sitting in the hot sun in the abandoned school parking lot with a futon sticking out of my windows, I suggested I could drive out 10 minutes further and meet him midway. The trouble was, there looked to be exactly nothing between the two towns. No, that’s not true. There was a state forest. I couldn’t really see arranging to meet with a strange guy in the middle of the woods. (Well, I could see the headlines.) But I had the damn futon in the car, and I’d gone this far. I was either handing it off to him, or abandoning it in the school parking lot. I don’t litter, so I offered to drive the extra 10 minutes. Making the new driving total 80 minutes roundtrip.

It might not surprise you to learn that I arrived at the designated shopping center first. But the guy did show up. I helped him transfer the futon, and he even gave me $5.00 for gas. (If not for the $5.00, I would have felt totally scammed. As it is, I only feel partially scammed.)

So that’s how things are going with Project Get Rid of Stuff. Several hours of my time wasted and close to a couple of gallons of gas. To give the futon away. For free. To a complete stranger.

(Next up, do you want to hear about my adventures as an Amazon Marketplace seller?)

23 thoughts on “n00b in the b00nies

  1. Hi Alejna —

    The last time I used Craigslist was back in the summer of 2003 when I was trying to get rid of stuff before leaving the US to return to Asia. I think I generally had a better experience than you — with some people coming to pick stuff up and others asking to meet a pre-arranged spot within walkable distance of my apartment.

    Of course, the summer of 2003 was when mobile phones were still a novelty — at least in Philadelphia. So no multiple texts to arrange a meeting place — thank goodness! :D

    (OTOH, I now admit to having a mobile phone — and texting more than that I actually talk on the phone. Maybe before you too long, u 2’ll be txting a lot 2 ;b)

    1. I think Craigslist works better in areas with a denser population than where I live. That’s my theory, at least.

      As for the txting, maybe I need to take a course in it. I’ll just pretend it’s a foreign language.

  2. Hilarious! I can’t believe your husband helped you – mine would have told me I was nuts and washed his hands of it, possibly taking my car keys with him.

    1. Thanks, De. I’m glad you enjoyed it. John was actually glad not to have to give out our address in this case, though he probably would have been fine with having the futon sit in our basement another 12 years or more.

    1. So, you want to hear about my Amazon Marketplace Misadventures, magpie? At least they didn’t involve me spending hours in my car. But so far it has not been a great money-making scheme, as I am now $6 in the red after my first and only transaction. I may or may not work up the energy to tell the tale in agonizing detail.

      And I did have one okay craigslist experience, also. I sold some guinea pig cages, and the people showed up on time, and even paid me for the goods. But that makes a really boring story.

    1. Yup, it was pretty annoying, Heather. It felt like one of those “no good deed goes unpunished” times. All I wanted was to avoid sending the futon off to a landfill! As for the humor, I was determined that at least was going to get (and/or provide) some entertainment out of the experience.

  3. Wow. At least it makes a good story!

    I’ve mainly had good experiences with Craigslist, but perhaps I’ve just been very lucky.

    1. I’m glad you were entertained, Sally! I enjoyed writing about it much more than living it.

      Does your craigslist experience support my hypothesis that craigslist works better in more densely populated areas?

      1. Yes, it definitely does. I’ve used craigslist in Cambridge/Boston, and in the Bay Area, both considerably more densely populated than your neighborhood. Not only is your theory supported by the (albeit limited) empirical data at my disposal, but it also seems theoretically sound.

        Also, I second Painted Maypole’s comment about the elderly aunt name. Hilarious!

    1. Thanks, Ashley. I admit that I quite enjoyed writing that letter, which is fairly ironic, considering how bad I have been historically about writing letters in real life.

  4. it makes a good story, and so… not a total waste? it amazes me, these people, who want you to make it more convenient for you to give them something for free.

    but your elderly aunt writing name? i love that you slipped in (on? off?) some pants. well done.

    1. Indeed, Painted. Making it into a story somewhat redeemed the experience for me, though it did add to the total amount of time invested in the transaction.

      I’m glad you caught the name! How could I resist?

  5. Alejna, you are an upstanding citizen and there is a special place in Heaven for people who use proper punctuation and drive out of their way to hand off futons.

    That said, I think civilization is going to hell in a handbasket. Starting with that futon guy.

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