Thursday, January 28, 2010

FREE Works

I was trying to get rid of my TV and entertainment center for months. Not that there was anything wrong with it, but with me having to move, there was no way I could carry a TV with me. It was a nice 24” flat screen TV, with blah blah blah features as if I understood the features), that sat on a nice, classy entertainment center. Not the random free stuff you find abandoned on streets near the university.

2 months ago, I put an ad on craigslist. A few responded and showed interest, but no one showed up. People wrote to me asking about this and that, the features, the color, the dimensions, and incomprehensible terms (for me) like it having RCA jacks for video game hooks up, etc. Not knowing what to do, I reduced the price drastically. Still nothing worked. I kept getting emails with people asking for the same stuff I had already mentioned in the ad. Yet no one bought it. I was giving away my TV and entertainment center for $35 now (which was nothing compared to the original price), yet nothing worked. Even posted it on the Microsoft site and my apartment’s notice board. An apartment-mate finally showed up, checked it out, made me play the TV to make sure it works, told me he will be back with the money, and never came back.

I looked at my TV in sadness, feeling attached every bit, not wanting to part with it, yet knowing I do not have the means to carry it with me. My TV felt like one of those dark skinned girls in the fair and lovely ads that failed to secure a husband and felt unwanted. I wondered what was wrong.

For 2 weeks, I further reduced the price to $20. Still nothing happened.

Then my friend gave me an idea to donate it to the salvation army. She told me to schedule an appointment on the phone so that they could come pick it up. Sounded great to me. I knew I will not get a price for my TV, but at least it would go for some good purpose. I called them to schedule an appointment. They gave me a waiting time so long I knew right away I did not have that much time. Here I was donating my TV for free, yet no one wanted to come take it. Even salvation army option didn’t work.

Then I put an ad on craigslist, but this time in the “free stuff” section. By now, I was pretty sure that my TV was staying with me. If people didn’t buy it for $20, if the salvation army didn’t pick it soon enough for free, why would things be any different now?

So I put an ad again during the evening. And something just changed.

By night, I had 25 emails responding to my “Free TV”. Everyone wanted to come grab it as soon as possible. Now they didn’t care about the dimensions or the features of the TV. One guy even emailed me in a language script (probably Chinese) I did not understand. Another one scribbled me an email is haste and did not check what he wrote, so that when I read it, it was “Hi I want to get you free…”. No one wanted me to deliver it, no one asked questions. I replied to everyone telling that I did not care who took it, whoever came first could get it.

I was in deep sleep when the phone rang. I picked it up with a groggy voiced “hello” when the person on the other side of the line told me he is all ready to get my TV. I squinted at the bedside clock. It was 6:30 am in the morning, and pitch dark outside. Who would wake up in this cold weather and be set to fetch a TV so early because it was for free?

Within minutes, a tall, thin, lanky, bespectacled guy (who looked like a cross between Sheldon’s body and Leonard’s face from the Big Bang Theory) was smiling at me at the doorstep. He didn’t even want to check if the TV worked. Seeing his frame, I wondered if he could carry it all by himself. Within minutes, my TV and entertainment center was out of the door. It seemed he worked in a hurry, lest I change my mind and decide not to give him the TV for free. He didn’t ask for help or assistance, didn’t ask to be escorted out of the door. I would be amazed at someone who could pick it up all on his own.

I closed the door and went back to complete my half-finished sleep. My TV is gone now. I’m glad it found a home, and now that I think about the last few months when I desperately tried to sell it and lost my sleep in the process, the protocol all seems so clear to me. All I had to do it was to give it away for free.



SJ said...

I had those days as well :-)

One of the reasons I like reading your blog is cuz you come up with such amazing examples -

"dark skinned girls in the fair and lovely ads that failed to secure a husband" lol :-)

Padmanabhan said...

I generally trash them. Less work for me than posting an ad and answering calls.

Pavi!!!! said...

hmm..isnt that kinda fair/logical.. that if one wants to pick up sumthing @ NO cost..then one cant make an deamnds or have too many preferences?

but 6:30 am is too much! they didnt ask u wat time suits u?

Iddy Albatross said...

Hehe... somehow, people cannot resist "free" ever :P

Nice post... Cheers...

The_Girl_From_Ipanema said...

LOL @ “Hi I want to get you free…”

everybody likes free i guess.

arumugamks said...

It was an excellent narration of a Sad ending. I am also in a similar situation. I moved to a new apartment in my Island City just a week ago. I am finding it difficult to sleep without my old TV which I left in the last apartment. Right now, I am in dilemma whether to buy a new LCD Sony TV or not. It gives me so much pain to think what I can do in case of moving to another apartment or even quitting the job and moving to a new country.

All I can say is, lonely days always attaches me to electronic goods like TV, laptop and Phone. Though I have to live alone I never felt as refugee, when I have those. Just in a week time, I am striped off without internet connection and my TV, I feel like I went back to old days in a Refugee camp.

Sunshine, your experience shows me what would be my future when I have to leave this country without my belongings.