The Culture of Craigslist

Since I am selling my home (see the listing here if you’re interested) and have been trying to save as much as possible in preparation for this trip, I’ve discovered Craigslist.  I didn’t think I had much to sell, but $1500 later I’m glad I took the time to do it.  It took six months and hundreds of emails, and I had many memorable experiences along the way.  For some reason, at this stage in my life, it feels great to get rid of stuff.

My first challenge was getting used to the culture of Craigslist.  I come from an era of handwritten letters, thank you notes and proper punctuation.  I cringed, then, when I received one-word texts like “available?” which translates as, “I’m interested in the laptop you have for sale.  Is it still available?  Thank you.”  Another popular text was “$40?” which means, “I’d like to buy the KitchenAid Mixer you have listed for $100 but am willing to pay $40.”  I usually answered in complete sentences, but occasionally the influence of the Craigslist culture was too great to resist and I resorted to one-word lower-cased responses.

Won’t be needing this in Vietnam

I had many requests to meet people halfway between Westerly and Providence and quickly realized that I would have to do this to sell certain items.  Although it usually worked out (I sold a rice cooker to a woman in the parking lot of REI in Cranston), I did end up waiting in more than one McDonald’s parking lot without ever meeting the intended buyer.  One request I had, however, went too far:  “I live in
Prov and want to buy the speaker.  Can you give me $20 for gas to pick it up?”  I didn’t respond.

The more I looked around my house, the more stuff I realized I had.  Besides the normal unused exercise equipment, old furniture and various computers and devices, there were some forgotten items.  An old paint sprayer was worth $10.  I found two artificial Christmas trees – one went to the dump and the other sold for $20.  An entire bin of camping equipment, including tents, a stove and lantern, went to a 20-year-old guy who was eager to start camping while his girlfriend sat in the car with a less-than-enthusiastic look on her face.  There were two bags of coal in my garage, left there decades ago by some previous owner.  Craigslist connected me with a guy needing the coal for an old blacksmith’s forge.  In this case, giving it away saved me the trouble of disposing of it.  

I did find a buyer for this unusual table!

I had the same idea for the broken chest freezer in my basement and listed it for free.  Surely someone out there would find a use for it.  After several months, I found that person, and it led to my most memorable and dangerous Craigslist experience.  That story will have to wait for a future post.

Comments (6):

  1. Paula M Agins

    June 29, 2016 at 10:29

    That sounds scary!

  2. Sharon Eash

    June 29, 2016 at 12:38

    It is quite freeing to “downsize” or in your case, complete freedom! We downsized a little over a year ago from our house and large yard to a condo. Enjoying every minute of it (now that it’s over)! We too sold thing at 2 garage sales. The rest went to Salvation Army. You’re livin’ the dream!!!

  3. Ella Ainscough

    June 30, 2016 at 04:08

    This sounds like the beginnings to another awesome personal narrative model for your students for when you get back. Can’t wait to hear!

    • Tim Flanagan

      July 1, 2016 at 15:05

      I’ll keep all my drafts! Hope you’re having a good summer.

    • Tim Flanagan

      July 25, 2016 at 14:37

      Thanks for the idea!


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