Craigslist is Rarely Worth the Hassle

In 2006, the moment I separated from my ex-wife and moved into my swanky bachelor pad, I bought a brand new TV. Seriously, like, that day. She got the TV in the divorce, which was fine with me. I’ve always had an affinity for the latest and greatest; if it’s shiny and new, sign me up! So I headed to Best Buy and bought a Hewlett-Packard 37″ flat screen LCD television, very state-of-the-art for the time. Yes, that H/P, the company better known for computers. They got into the television business for a few years, it turns out.

The kicker is, I paid something like $1,500 for it. Nowadays, you can buy a brand new way-cooler, way-bigger TV for a helluva lot less. I should know: a month ago, I bought a new 50″ Roku Smart LED HDTV for like $250. The ol’ H/P still worked fine, but it was big and bulky and the sound quality wasn’t fantastic. It had long ago been relegated to the basement, and with a new job I figured it was time for an upgrade, so I done went and upgraded. And placed an ad on Craigslist, offering up the H/P behemoth for $50. Which kind of pained me considering what I’d spent for it originally, but then again I did get 14 years of trouble-free service out of that beast. I call it a beast because, while it was cutting-edge at the time, it’s a lot wider and heavier than today’s crop of TVs. Key word being “heavy.” That’ll come into play in a minute.

There weren’t any immediate takers, so I renewed the ad after it expired and then basically forgot all about it. Until yesterday, when I got a response from a woman named Kim. Said she wanted to buy it. Yay! We’d made plans for her to pick it up today, but when I hauled it up from the garage this morning, I realized the original remote control had long ago disappeared. We’d just had it hooked up to our cable and were using the VAST-supplied remote, so I hadn’t even thought about that. I emailed Kim to let her know she’d have to pick up a universal remote, but I’d knock $20 off the price to offset that if she was still interested. She was. Great!

She showed up at 5:35 this evening. I opened the door to find a heavyset older lady, masked up (thankfully). “Your steps are so steep!” she said by way of greeting, clearly winded.

(They’re not.)

Personal interactions are weird in the COVID era, so I invited her in if she was comfortable with that. She was. But then she took one look at the TV and declared, “There’s no way I can get that down to my car.”

No problem, I assured her. I’m happy to load it in your car for you.

She then proceeded to write me a check. Ugh. There’s an unwritten rule that these types of transactions must always be completed with cash. Whatever. She informed me that she just transferred money from her savings to her checking account so “there shouldn’t be any problems.” Meanwhile, she’s wheezing through her mask. Asthmatic-like not COVID. I’m fairly sure, anyway. Just in case, I scrubbed my hands with hot water and soap the minute she left. And then did it a second time, for good measure.

Check in hand, I lug the TV down our not-steep steps to her car.

“Is it heavy?” she asked.

Umm, how do I put this delicately? FUCK YEAH IT’S HEAVY. The thing weighs 52.9 lbs. according to the online specs. I did not mince words and told her yes, it’s quite heavy, and asked whether she had anybody to help her unload it once she got home.

Why, no. No, she did not.

I asked her where she lived. Clear on the other side of town. I briefly considered being a Really Good Samaritan, but I had dinner cooking on the stove and Tara was not home. Plus, I’m only going to do so much for $30, which might or might not ever end up in my account, you know?

She unlocked her door (after fumbling with the keys forever while I pretended the TV didn’t weigh a ton). Back door finally open, she said, “Excuse the mess back there!”

The mess back there was putting it lightly. Her entire backseat was overflowing with crap. It was dark, so I couldn’t even tell what exactly that crap consisted of. Maybe that’s for the best. I’m sorry, but if you know you’re going to be picking up a big TV and bringing it home, wouldn’t you take a few minutes to clear out your back seat?!

There was so much shit back there I couldn’t get the TV to slide all the way in, so I went around to the passenger side to open that door in order to pull it through. The rear window was covered with duct tape and when I yanked the door open, stuff spilled onto the driveway.

Good hell.

But I finally managed to get it in there. I strongly urged her to find somebody, a neighbor, a stranger, anybody, to help her get the TV into her home, because there is no way in hell she’s going to be able to manage that on her own without breaking a hip or collapsing a lung, and I don’t need that on my conscience. I feel bad, but she assured me she was super thankful to find such a great TV so reasonably priced and said it would help her tremendously, so I don’t feel too bad.

In retrospect, I probably should have just donated the damn thing to Goodwill. Sometimes โ€” more often than not โ€” Craigslist transactions just aren’t worth the hassle.

19 thoughts on “Craigslist is Rarely Worth the Hassle

  1. “so I done went and upgraded”… ๐Ÿ˜‚

    Ok is that small-town slang? Midwestern catch-phrase? Or borrowed from the Deep South of yesteryear?

    Sounds like you had an adventure. Aren’t you happy you have a blog?

    Oh and please update us on the 30 bucks.

    PS we have a similar tv in our basement. Takes 2 football players to lug it around and reinforcement brackets in the wall. ๐Ÿ™„ We don’t know any football players. ๐Ÿ™ƒ

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think maybe that phrase encapsulates all three: small towns, the Midwest, and the South. It’s a good catch-all when you’re visiting any of them there places.

      Next you’re going to ask me about “them there places.”

      I love having a blog where I can talk about these crazy tales!


  2. This is why we quit trying to sell our cars and now just do trade in at the dealership. The world is full of wackos. And by your description of her and her car, she sounds like the woman who, pre-Covid, was at our library every day to use the computers from open to close.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. OMG Mark, what a fiasco!

    You know, I’ve talked to so many people who have either sold things on Craigslist or purchased things. I myself have never done so. When I was planning on moving to NYC two years ago, someone told me to try Craigslist to look for a sublet, however, something just didn’t seem “right” to me, so I didn’t follow through.

    And judging from your experience, I’m glad I didn’t.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s definitely an experience, Ron. On the plus side, I will say I’ve pretty much always been able to sell things I wanted to get rid of. You just need to wade through a lot of crap first.


  4. Hahahaha great story! Too bad we can’t see how she ended up getting it inside and if her house is as much of a disaster as her car. Although I shouldn’t judge because she seems to be in poor health and if there’s any depression on top of that…well…but still I would like to know.

    So did the check clear?

    That made me think of the time my roommate and I rented a truck and went to a woman’s apartment to pick up a 1930s art deco armoire we named Albert. I think she helped us get it onto the dolly but made it clear that after that, we were on our own. Albert is taller and wider than us and made of a beautiful, heavy, hard wood. Weighs a ton. Somehow we got him down the street and to the truck and then the furniture moving gods were totally on our side. A homeless guy came out of nowhere (but really not that unusual considering the streets of L.A. are full of homeless) and didn’t even ASK us if we wanted help. He just grabbed hold and did the majority of the work getting it into the truck. Luckily we had cash on us and were able to tip him and were more than glad to do so. Albert is HEAVY. But then he offered to jump in the truck and ride back to our apartment and help us get it inside!!!! Um, no. Thank you, but no. We don’t need you knowing where we live. We told him we had someone waiting at the apartment to help us. We did NOT, but after we somehow managed to get Albert unloaded in the alley and back onto the dolly and over to the stairs, our neighbors JUST HAPPENED to come home and after walking by, the guy had a second thought and circled back and asked if we wanted some help. Yes please. The three of us managed to get Albert up the stairs. And ours really were steep and there were probably 11 of them. Funny thing is I don’t think we even thought about tipping him because he was a neighbor and just being neighborly. I’m sure we were out of cash by then anyway.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Even giving things away for free on Nextdoor can be a hassle. You put in every conceivable piece of information a potential taker might need (color, dimensions, etc.), but people often don’t read carefully enough and end up sending you a message with a question that is answered right in the ad. Other times you get 50 different emails asking if it’s still available because they don’t want to bother to drive by and see. One time this got so out of hand that I spent the entire evening responding to emails like that. I should probably just slap a “free” sign on the object, put it at the end of the driveway, and avoid Nextdoor entirely, like in the good ol’ days.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have found Nextdoor is a great place for recommendations (โ€œI need a [handyman] [electrician] [person to install Christmas lights], etc.โ€) but actually hadnโ€™t thought about advertising the TV on there. Sounds like thatโ€™s probably a good thing.


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