Saturday, May 15, 2010

The Demented World of Craigslist.

I once knew a guy back east who owned a retail store that specialized in junk. It was a weird place with piles and piles of cheap goods. There were socks, cheap backpacks, counterfeit cassette tapes, crappy sunglasses that would distort your vision, weird Chinese toys guaranteed to scare children, White Elephant brand batteries that would last no more than sixty seconds and a whole lot of other useless crap.

I used to by Gillette razor blades there, and to this day I 'm still not sure whether the were counterfeit, or if they had fallen off some truck.

He seemed like a nice guy and I always said hi when I passed by his shop.

One particular day as I walked down the main strip, he was standing in his doorway looking despondent. I asked what was the matter and he answered, with no small amount of bitterness, " People only want to buy jank, so I weel sell dem jank!"

Even though he was in the business of junk, he hated junk, but had to make a living. It was an endless loop, a Moebius strip,  a tedious never ending stream of crap. Even the cardboard boxes that this stuff came in were crappy.

I have never forgotten the unintentionally profound statement that my friend made that day; People love junk. Elegantly simple and absolutely true.

In one of my previous posts ( how to identify a hippie house) I touched on one these most basic of hippie traits. However, the lust for junk is not relegated to hippies only, but has crept into other social groups.

You may try this experiment for yourselves if you don't agree. If you have some unwanted, broken down piece of shit that you don't know what to do with, put it on the sidewalk. Whether it's a three-legged chair, water damaged magazine, headless doll, cracked bike helmet or anything else, I promise that it will gone within an hour.

Without launching into an anti- marketing or brand loyalty tirade, suffice it to say that a lot of people are led to believe that the junk they are buying is actually good quality.

Enter Craigslist. A brilliant idea from it's inception, it has created an entirely new form of social networking. Unlike the scope and anonymity of E-Bay, it has the archaic charms of classified newspaper ads. Deals are made locally and buyers and sellers actually get to meet in person.

Like the internet as a whole, unfortunately, weirdos and freaks start to literally crawl out of the woodwork. If you sell shit on Craigslist, you're gonna meet some freaks.

If you want see some truly bad spelling, delusional behaviour and downright weird stuff, just peruse some Craigslist ads.

The Rants and Raves here in Vancouver is very active and is an alarming indication that there are a lot of freaks, louts, internet tough guys and just plain insane people out there.

I will focus on the buy and sell aspect because that is the most entertaining for me. I've seen people attempting to sell anything and lots of people trying to buy weed.

Busted TV's, homemade wooden bicycle trailers, crappy bikes, lots of (probably stolen) cel phones, broken down furniture, ancient stereos from the 70's, some of the ugliest couches on the planet, used mattresses (yuck),   it's all in there.

I have seen a few items that I might have been interested in, but they were so outrageously over-priced, that it caused me to laugh out loud. Even when they are trying to get rid of it, a lot of people still seem to have an unnatural attachment to their junk.

I have posted a few nice items over the years, but never got any responses. Brand new bikes, high quality guitars or high end audio equipment doesn't seem to interest anyone. Crap that I was gonna toss in the trash, however, elicits tons of responses.

I'm always working on some project or other, so I always have a lot of hardware lying around, especially bike stuff. I like to make bikes in my spare time ( you may see these bikes on my facebook page), and that requires a large inventory of, sometimes hard to find, parts. When I don't need certain parts anymore, I post them on Craigslist and wait for the hilarity to ensue.

I will post some old disc brake caliper for $15 and my phone number, and I will immediately get five responses. Some guy will call and frantically ask " Dude, you still got that part? I'm comin' right over"

They desperately want the part, but then the ol' Craigslist haggle kicks in; "Will you take $9 for it?"
I often wonder when this anachronistic method of doing business became associated with CL, but it happens every time. I just take the dough, and am amused that I somehow turned crap into beer money.

I sold a stick welder for $40 and the guy wanted me to fire it up right there in my apartment. He became angry when I refused. He then proceeded to accuse me of having found it in the alley, and was hemming and hawing, all over forty bones. I threw in some old welding rods and offered to help him load it into his car. That was a lot of aggravation for 40 bucks, but in the end, he took it. I was rid of this pain in the ass, and 40 bucks bought a lot of beer.

I have tinkered with electric bikes now and again, but it became tedious and pointless.Craigslist to the rescue.

Electric bike stuff seems to bring out the socks and sandals crowd, so I have met some truly monumental weirdos during those transactions. They insist on telling you what absurd intentions they have for the stuff you just sold them,.They will tell you about their twisted philosophy on electric bikes. They are excited.

They just don't have a clue how to make it work. They are impervious to advice and fail to comprehend even the most rudimentary technical advice. Their loss. I will be drinking some newly acquired cold ones while they are on their way home wondering what  the hell I meant by 36 Volts and 12 Amp/Hours.

Here is a partial list of Craigslist selling terms and what they actually mean.

Retro:  Some piece of shit from the seventies

Classic stereo;  It always seems to be Sansui, That was a piece of shit back then, now it's a 35 year old piece of shit.

Classic:  Ugly

Vintage:   Usually a crappy bike from Sears.

Hardly used:   Totally fucked up

Only ridden twice (bikes):   Never done any maintenance

Retails for $800, asking $750:   I got screwed, now it's your turn.

Will deliver:  Stolen

Custom:  I have no talent and I fucked it up badly

One of a kind:  I crashed it.

High-end:  Has lots of shiny knobs and lights.

Rare; Real ugly

Mint:  It only has a few dents from when it fell off a 4th floor balcony.

Beautiful;  Fugly; Ugly as shit;

Very beautiful:   Car crash ugly

A few parts missing:  Has no wheels.

Needs work;  Busted

Gently worn:  I found it in the dumpster.

Small dents;  Completely trashed.

Adorable:  Ridiculous.

Old School;  Been watching to many rap videos.

Cool;   Not cool at all, seller deserves a punch in the face.

Home Made;    A true hillbilly piece of shit.

Hard to Find;  No idea what it is.

Collector's Item;  Pawn shop won't buy it.

Will meet at Skytrain:  I need crack right now.

Must sell tonight: I need a lot of crack.

Text me;  No computer, cel phone stolen, need crack.

I'm Leaving the Country:   Going to Jail.

No Lo-ballers:  I am a self-entitled douchebag.

Lots of Bass;  Tweeters blown.

Needs a fuse: It blew up.

Needs minor repairs: It caught on fire.

Cosmetic scratches; I hit it with a hammer.

Free:  Somebody dropped it on my lawn, too lazy to pick it up.

That covers some of it. My only advice is caveat emptor, buyer beware. I have to go now, I have a slightly used bridge for sale and need to post it on Craigslist.

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