The List

103979867_3bb31282d4The Listmonster

When the future is unknown (and when is it not, despite tarot cards, astrology charts and the I Ching at your disposal? ) —

and when relocation looms imminently on the horizon —

and when there is not one more book to sell —

where do you turn?

To Craig’s List. You aim a cold eye toward your household frou frou, determine what is useless, brace yourself to let it go — and then put it up for sale.

PackingUp4Books in Boxes — never a good thing.

Dealing with respondents from Craig’s List is like going one extra round on the dreaded arm bike at the gym.

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You suffer through it to impress your personal trainer, but you’d rather be eating a chocolate chip muffin.

Dealing with flakey people requires patience. Speaking of which, our first email inquiry arrived the day after we posted the ads. It was from an entity known as “Peace Waif.”

Okay, so this is L.A., remember. Lots of people who live here have names like Rainbow or Jesse James Hollywood or Peace Waif. P.W. expressed interest in an item we’d unimaginatively described as “Bench.”

Encouraged by his seemingly earnest request for the status of “Bench,” we typed our response right away. But, alas, we were not fast enough. Peace Waif, it seemed, had already left the planet.

A day or two later, we received another email, this time from Carmen. She definitely wanted the sofa, she wrote. Would definitely be coming over on Saturday, cash-in-hand, at exactly 3:00 p.m. to look at it and would definitely pick it up on Monday.

By 3:45 p.m. on Saturday, there was no Carmen, no email, no phone call.

So, we called her. “Uh, I’m stuck at work,” she said — but was still planning to come by on Sunday.

On Sunday, she emailed us the famous L.A. mantra: I am sooooo sorry!!!!

Due to a sudden hitch in her plans, she wrote, the keys to her new apartment would not be available for another two weeks.

An excuse about as lame — and made-up — as the one your high school boyfriend had used to break up with you: “I can’t see you anymore because I’m going through so many changes!

Apparently, The List’s correspondents are much more interested in filling their inboxes than furnishing their apartments.

The creepiest was “Edward.” His terse, serial-killer-esque email said: “I want to buy your computer. This better not be a scam. The computer better work.”

Even so, we still took the bait. We responded with an email brimming with reassurances. He ignored it. Either that, or he was too busy dumping a corpse.

Ever the optimist, I took another tack. Changing “Bench” to “Indoor-Outdoor Loveseat,” I brainstormed, might add some panache and result in a sale.

It worked. Immediately after the change, an email came in. The sender drove all the way from from Pomona that same night and paid for the “Indoor/Outdoor Loveseat.” He also bought the “Stargazer’s Lamp.”

But Craig’s List was way too much work. We’d only just begun and we were already done.

We borrowed a dolly, mounted the four-tier file cabinet in my office on top, and then rolled it out our front door. On the way to the corner — where we’d planned to abandon it with a “FREE” sign attached — I noticed a neighbor peering at us between the bars covering his window.

I hand-gestured: Do you want this? He nodded yes and came bounding out onto his lawn. “For my church!” he said. And that, as they say, was that.

Turns out, being charitable is a lot more fun and a lot less work than selling yourself cheap.

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