Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Into the world of Craigslist Flakes

I recently placed an item on the Craigslist "Free" section.  I did not do this as a psychological experiment or to test the limits of human endurance, but doing that is about the same thing.  Because even when you try to just GIVE SOMETHING AWAY, you come face to face with a very specific kind of Human Being: the Craigslist Flake.

The first email I received, less than an hour after I posted the item (which was a bed, as it happens), was terse but seemed helpful:

I can pick this up Sunday.....


OK then! That's exactly when I wanted it picked up. I guess we don't have to get into a big thing or anything.  (I almost DQ'd this person because they used "Cheers" to close the email, which I hate, like you better be British or literally clinking a glass with me or just don't use Cheers, but I let it slide.)  I called "K" whose style in voicemail messages was as equally loquacious as her email persona: her message said, in its entirety, "LEAVE A MESSAGE" .  So I left a message telling "K" I would be happy to give her the bed the next day, which was Sunday.

Obviously, K never called back.  K can NOT, contrary to her email, "pick this up Sunday."

Then I got an email from Shoshanna.  It said:

"Hi we want to collect ur stuff,plz give directions to pick up,dn't give to anyone,we will pick,if possible today night itself we will pick,thank u

WHOA WHOA WHOA SHOSHANNA.  CHILL OUT ON BEING SO BOSSY.  I might have let you collect my stuff, but I don't like a complete stranger instructing me not to give to anyone. What's more, your fractured syntax makes it nearly impossible for me to divine your pickup plans.  I have no idea what "today night itself" might mean.  BZZZZZTTT.  Shoshanna got eliminated.

Next up was Linda.  Linda, knowing something about how people work, tried a tack in her email header that I immediately found appealing.  It said "I'll pay $20".  As we know, $20 is better than nothing!  In her email, Linda said she could pick it up Sunday, which happened to be the day I wanted it picked up.  I liked the cut of Linda's jib and emailed her back right away.

Never heard back from Linda.  I guess she decided to take her $20 elsewhere.

I was beginning to think that setting my bed on the sidewalk with a "FREE" sign on it was going to be the best option when I got to the next person on the list, Francine.  I liked her plucky spirit.

Love to have it
Francine 415-XXX-XXXX

Francine isn't barking commands at me like mean old Shoshanna.  She'd love to have it!  I'd love that too.  I called the number and left a message and, mirabile dictu, FRANCINE CALLED BACK and we set up a time and then she TEXTED ME TO CONFIRM.

That time is tonight.  We shall see, Francine.  We shall see.

I should point out, as a postscript, that a few months ago I put a desk on CL for $40 and sold it to the first person who emailed about it, who then arrived at the appointed time with a suitable vehicle, have me the $40, and left with the desk.  The whole thing was surreal.


Stephen said...

As you can imagine, I've given this a lot of thought. I've become convinced there is a particular kind of mental illness, perhaps OCD-related, that compels some people to respond to ads, especially free ads. These people probably shop a lot online, but there are financial limits on how much of that they can do. There are no such limits with free things. "Well, it's free, so of course, I want it. IT'S FREE. OMGMUSTHAVEFREE!!1!"

Emailing you provides the release of hitting a "buy it now" button.

Then, somehow, when the internet shopping compulsion part of the brain is satisfied, the transaction is essentially complete in the mind of the crazy person.

But I could come up with other theories.

GG said...

I've had a lot better luck with Freecycle than Craiglist in giving stuff away. Might try that?

Tamagosan said...

I've wondered if it comes with the 'free' category. Maybe GG's suggestion is right. Something with a price attached, even nominal, seems to make people think they're entering into some kind of contract. So does a phone number, which is kind of crazy to put online I guess. But it would eliminate the kind of person Stephen describes. At any rate, this bed better not have had a queen box spring in it because one of your internet comment people would have picked that shit up STAT and for real.

me said...

peoples true colors come out whe they are behind the computer and anonymous. They don't care about manner or you. they want something, then when they can have it, they don't want it anymore. The sit behind the monitor, un their underwear playing games with themselves unaware nor caring they are also playing games with you.

thee Augustinian said...

Same story here, ppl now a days are just NOT ppl of their words. I placed a microwave up for $35 and got 5 ppl to offer me $20, I didn't really want $20, but as you stated $20 is better than $0 so I went for it. 3 ppl flaked for picking it up and when I responded to the others who claim they were interested, the could never respond to my email.

They should really consider changing the name to "Craig's Incredibly Flaky Peoples List

Frank The Bear said...

Employers on Craiglist now are even flakes.. Phantom job listing galore..

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