Those of you who know me, know how much I love Craigslist. The Trading Post of the digital world, I have bought and sold some of life’s most treasured possessions using the site.
Of course, like any other human-to-human negotiation, there’s a bit of a ritual that goes into a transaction.
First, you have to establish some kind of trust with the other party.
#1: Do they actually own the item they posted?
#2: How likely is it that whatever they posted may be stolen?
Then there’s the “question” period that unfolds back and forth via email or text. As a buyer, you feel justified to ask for more details. As a seller, I’m always quick to get back to the people who respond with basic notes like “when can I come by to take a look?” These are the people I assume have cash. Or the ones who want to come by and case the joint. Either way, they’re willing to make an appearance in person.
Finally, there’s the meeting. This is particularly awkward. As a buyer, I always try to reassure the person on the other end that I’m upstanding citizen. As a seller, I always wind up pacing around wondering if the person who shows up is going to hit me over the head with something and throw me in the back of a van. Just to clarify, this has never happened.
I found myself in a particularly strange “meeting” last night. An attempt to thin the heard of bicycles in the garage, I posted my once beloved Lemond Fillmore a few weeks back. There was very little response. But one guy kept emailing. He came by. Checked things out. Handed over his car keys and wallet and took off for a test ride. When he returned 20 minutes later, he seemed perplexed.
“I like the bike,” he kept saying. “I’m just not sure about the geometry. And the brakes. And the wheels. And the fork…etc.”
He didn’t seem to like the bike at all, but he continued to stare at it. I did my best to make conversation, but I wasn’t sure where things were headed.
Then he went for his wallet. “I’m not even sure I have enough money,” he said pulling out a wad of twenties. I started to zero in on the fact that his long contemplative period was a tactic that would be followed by a low-ball offer.
And that’s pretty much how it went down. I was asking $200. He had $150. I took the cash and bid him farewell. In my mind, bikes were meant to be ridden. Period. Having an extra hanging in the garage is silly.
I went to the mailbox after the guy walked away. Among the credit card offers and bills was a check from Hemmings. A few months back, I submitted a random iPhone photo to be considered for their 2016 Abandoned Car Calendar and it made the cut. The reward for my hard work and keen eye? $50.
I went upstairs with $200 in hand feeling pretty good about the world. Somehow, everything really does even out. With that in mind, have a great weekend.