We are moving my mother-in-law into our apartment, and in the process, we’ve been giving away, or attempting to give away, various items that we no longer have the space to keep. I’ve posted the items we want to give away on various local networks. We’ve had some experience with this, and the last time we moved, we gave away some great stuff, mostly to graduate students and young families in our neighborhood. What struck me that time was that often the person receiving our free goods would present us with a small token — a box of chocolates, a bag of fruit. Something to say, “Thanks.”
I’ve missed that this time around. A week ago, I went around and around via email with a woman who wanted our futon — an old one, but a great one. She wanted to know if she could look at it first, then she kept changing the time she could come, and finally, she seemed to be angling for me to offer to help her move it, not only out of our house, but into her house. I finally sent her a stern enough email letting her know that we were getting rid of it, and she had to come collect it if she wanted it.
On the appointed night, she arrived, and asked to have a look before deciding if she really wanted it. Then, she interrogated us about why were getting rid of it: was it broken, was something wrong with it? Ed lost his patience and said, “It’s free! Yeah, it’s old, but it has worked for us for more than ten years. The mattress itself is worth about 50 bucks. Did I mention, it’s free?” Okay, so I exaggerate a little, but he said some of that, and clearly sent the message by his tone of voice. Futon-taker and her friend/helper carried it out, one piece at a time, to be sure it would fit in the Subaru. We helped. After round one of carrying, Futon Friend noted, “Wow, this is a really great wooden frame.” Yeah, and it’s free — be thankful, not doubtful.
I just posted a few more items on the various local lists, and the madness has begun. What color is the cushion on the chair; can I clean the upholstery; will it fit in my Volkswagon; can you send me a photo so I can see if it matches my room? I walked to JE’s apartment to show a potential chair-taker a lovely rocking chair. She sat in it, inspected it, walked around it, wrinkled her nose and said, “No, it just isn’t what I am looking for.” It’s like these people are shopping, and they find our stuff unacceptable. She did offer, helpfully, perhaps because she felt guilty that I had walked over just to show her the chair, to take a photo and send it to me so I could email it to other persnickety free-loaders.
Who are these people who want free stuff, but want to make sure that the free stuff is exactly what they had in mind? Someone should have told my mother years ago that beggars can, in fact, be choosers.