Saturday, October 4, 2008

My downfall

I need to confess something, people. I have a problem. An addiction. I need to get it off my chest.

I am addicted to “for sale.”

Do you know Have you gone there in search of a desired item, or to sell your undesirables? It’s a wonderful marketplace, a beacon of common sense in a world of materialism gone mad. It’s local, it’s free, and it’s downright intoxicating with its limitless purchasing and selling possibilities.

I can’t stay away from it. It draws me like a fresh-baked smell, like a favorite song. I sit down at the monitor to check the weather, and suddenly without my even realizing, I’ve made the quick click to that too-familiar URL. I could spend hours there, scanning items for sale, checking out the freebies, researching prices for items that are similar to what I plan to sell.

I know why I love it so. Actually, is merely a symptom of the true problem from which I suffer: a very real, twisted need to save every abandoned, abused, or endangered piece of furniture that crosses my path. I come by the illness honestly—I believe it runs in my family—and I’m happy to say that although I suffer from this weakness, I have thus far minimized the companion packrat syndrome that often feeds the need to save possessions forever. Thankfully, I have no trouble unloading things if I feel certain they’ll have a good, appreciative home with their new owners...

Another reason I love it so is because, unlike the Pennysaver weekly, has pictures most of the time. You can see the item before you trek cross country to check out the “like new” piece that turns out to be rusted, or broken, or warped, or nonfunctioning. Plus, the face-to-face contact is delayed, allowing you to garner information about the item before you have to deliver a “yes” or “no” directly to the seller. There’s some pressure when you’re facing the seller—anyone who’s visited a desperate seller’s tag sale has felt that pressure—and I know I sometimes fall prey to guilt-purchasing if the seller is sweet, or old, or looks unhealthy, or lives in a run-down home or any number of other factors that elicit my sympathy. More than once, I’ve bought something I really didn’t want because I could see it would make the seller happy, give them hope, provide them with needed money. And while that’s not a terrible thing, it’s probably not the best shopping protocol.

One more reason I love craigslist is because it, like the web in general, provides anonymity and therefore permits behaviors you would likely not display in a real-world setting. I can be flippant in emails asking for information about an item. I can be forward, implying that I’d expect a discount for distance traveled or the like. I can be completely honest (i.e., I have absolutely no need for this but if you really want to unload it for less, let me know) or I can stretch the truth when I find out that the item isn’t right for me (i.e., My husband won’t let me spend any money right now…)

In short, craigslist is a wondrous yet dangerous place for me to linger. Maybe now that I’ve “come out,” a few of you will check on me occasionally to make certain I’m not contemplating any useless purchases of lovely, high-quality, right-priced items that won’t fit into our diminutive home. I have to remind myself that honestly, if I don’t need it, it ain’t such a good deal after all.

But golly, it breaks my heart to pass on some of this stuff. Oh, for a used furniture storefront in which to play.

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