Sunday, January 30, 2011


When you move, it's imperative to throw out as much as possible in advance. But you can't always predict what will work in the new space until you've lived there.

So I knowingly paid movers to schlep several things uptown, despite the fact they would soon be history.  One of the more embarrassing and unwieldy was the 65-pound, 27" diagonal, perfectly working Sony [above] I had bought when I moved into my old place in 2004.  I mean -- I work in television, for chrissake.

I had never bought into the plasma extravaganza. But now LEDs were too good and cheap to ignore. So within a few weeks of moving, I bought a Samsung and a new TV cabinet to house it, and the Sony became the world's biggest doorstop.

Not wanting to dump it on the sidewalk, I posted it on Craig's List.

I was asking $99 (on Amazon someone was selling a used one for $200, and that didn't include shipping) -- along with a bunch of other furniture from the old place that served us in the transition until our new lives took shape: dressers, a bookcase, even the Ikea table this TV had sat on [below].
I priced them to move. From my point of view, people were paying me to get rid of my trash.  They were doing heavy lifting of objects I'd otherwise either have to transport to Housing Works, or sit around all day waiting for a donation vehicle to arrive, or toss out and add to the landfill crisis.

When I first posted my items, I got a flurry of inquiries. I would write back right away -- and hear nothing. I realized it was a little like internet dating, where people put out a million feelers but quickly move on, and don't even remember who they wrote to, and leave nothing but hurt feelings in their wake.

But I also learned it was pointless to post ads early in the week. The only serious buyers didn't really shop till right before a weekend, when people actually have time (and vehicles) to come see and take things.

In one thrilling 24-hour period, I unloaded nearly everything I had advertised. It became almost like a reality show,  several people interested in the same dresser competing to see who could get here first.

I helped one very tiny mother of four who lived in Queens wrestle a dresser into her mini-van, moving carseats and baby formula out of the way. She was thrilled that the dresser matched another one she already owned. Another buyer wanted a bookshelf, he only said once he'd already arrived, because he thought he could put LPs on it. When he realized the cubbyholes were too small, instead of stomping off, he cheerfully took it, saying he'd find something else for his albums.

But only one person expressed interest in the TV. Dor was moving on the Sunday and he was a haggler. Dor wanted me to let him have the TV for free if he took the table, then he granted he'd give me $49. He also wanted one or two of the dressers. I kept him posted as they slowly were winnowed away.

By Sunday morning, I just wanted to unload the TV. I texted him to come get it. He wrote back that it wasn't worth it to make the trip with his truck for just one item. So we both moved on.

I posted an offer of the TV on Facebook, and a friend - a TV critic -- recommended I try Freecycle, where she'd unloaded her old-school set.
I joined -- and entered a world from another dimension.  A world where every day is a Christmas Wish List, and nothing should ever cost anything. Or be thrown out. Here is a brief sampling. It conjures an entire David Foster Wallace novel (or at least Harper's piece).

  • Yes, I'm offering free bananas. They're yellow and fresh. I have way too many to eat myself. Pickup in midtown at any convenient time for you. Thanks!
  •  Greetings! I am preparing to move and am in need of a lot of bubble wrap. In light of our weather conditions, I will be traveling via train and prefer to pick up in Bronx or Manhattan. However, when the snow clears a bit, I can drive and pick up anywhere. Please contact me via e-mail. Thank you in advance. Peace and Blessings,
  • In great need of a working Boost Cell Phone. Someone stole my phone. And, Accessories if you have. Thank You and May God Bless, 
  •  I need a svelte loveseat I can smuggle in to my dorm (we're not supposed to have outside furniture), hopefully one that could fold up or be taken easily apart and packed in a box or suitcase. This is a good example: but anything similar would do.
  • Offering a box of comedy supplies: -a dozen oversized red buttons with "Make 'Em Laugh" printed on them -- when you hit the button, you get several seconds of laugh track -a package of whoopie cushionsI'd love for someone to take the whole box! Pick-up is in the Times Square area. Items can only be picked up Monday thru Friday, between 9:00AM and 1:00PM.
  • Hello I would like some weights to work out with...anything 20lbs or under. Thanks!
I don't think this is just a sign of a bad economy and high unemployment. The demands, and their specifics, were mindboggling. I was thrilled when a woman actually wrote in looking for a free TV for her kids room, she didn't care if it was not a flat screen, but -- she wanted it to be at least 36"  -- and she was willing to pick up only in Queens.

My inbox is now flooded with these emails, so I will probably remove myself from the list. But it's been a bracing reminder that even in this most urban of areas, there's a whole world of people who live off the grid and set their own rules. And, thanks to the internet, are able to find each other.

Meanwhile, I still have the TV, and it's going to go out to the sidewalk -- if the snow ever goes away. Now. does anyone on Freecycle have an extra Blu-Ray? 

* UPDATE: A friend read this blog post and said she wished she'd known because she wanted it. 24 hours later it was hers -- gratis. 


David Handelman said...

I am tempted to post a Freecycle "Post of the day" every day. But let's just start with one. This is all from one "seller.

1. Small electric space heater, works great

2. Large bottle of lemon juice, unopened but says best used by sep 2010.

3. Well used wooden ikea nightstand, 1 drawer with lower shelf. Could be
spruced up with a paint job and/or tablecloth.

4. Incharacter black/red gothic vampira size 3x costume. Worn once for my mom's
halloween wedding. I would ebay it but I really don't want to keep it around
until halloween as a reminder.

5. Standard sized collapsible wheelchair used less than a month. Basically like

Anonymous said...

hahahaha! finally.
end quote? "seller...

David Handelman said...

Here's another sweet one, I'm guessing from a disheartened den mother.


I have approximately 24 olds issues of Shonen Jump magazine tied with cord they are heavy. Have help if you are taking both packs. I will not split the packs to less than 12 in a pack. They are older editions from 2008 and 2009 for those animae collectors

I have an almost never used Webelos cub scout book.
A Webelos badge with ribbons: A scarf buckle for scout, two new ropes to practice knot tying for scouts. One completed leather project for a pen or knife holder and two uncompleted brand new leather project wallets never started.

One new in the box Grand prix Pinewood Derby project kit minus its wheels and axles. The block of wood cost at least $5.00 bucks back then just for the taking to a parent who has their kid in the scout and the official instructions for the derby race.

A home Depot apron with decal buttons of projects done for a small child. The name of my child has been crossed out but it's good for messy projects and small kids and is durable.

I have a couple of rolls of canvas white and black and they can be used for recovering a car seat or chair whatever.

The soonest pick up gets the goods. Please tell me what items you want as I will split the shonen jumps in two piles.
The soonest pickup gets the goods.>>

ELo said...

My mom tried to give her old tube-style TV to the salvation army, even they wouldn't take it.

The cable guy who came to hook up the new flat screen was happy to take it off her hands though.