I am trying to sell some barely used furniture and apparently I need to quit my full time job in order to have time for answering all the questions that potential customers have, and then have an interval to recuperate from drinking heavily after trying to recover from all that glorious humanity.
I just love it when I spend an hour talking to someone about the finer points of a metal shelf that’s worth about $40 (and I’ll probably get somewhere between $35 and $25 for it), followed by the working out the logistics of my location, now that craigslist now has a DIY map with a shit interface and is always wrong.
I would like to point out to Craigslist that I can’t drag and drop something that is OFF THE MAP! Are they too fucking lazy to find the location themselves? I thought that’s why we have Map Quest to begin with—not so I can guess where I live and spend half an hour trying to drag and drop the pointer, like a drone, on top of unsuspecting addresses who have nothing to do with me or the crime of trying to sell some goddamn furniture without losing my fucking mind—I have Map Quest figure it out SO I DON’T HAVE TO!
Sending someone a map with a circle on it through snail mail would be easier than the dipshit system they have now. Who decided that was a good idea? Don’t these geniuses realize that by now people can’t figure out their own addresses precisely because they’ve been using Google maps for ten years? That’s like asking someone to memorize a phone number or to calculate what 20% off means in real dollars. Thanks Craigslist for rendering Google maps as useful as Esperanto.
And in the middle of this I’m getting wonderful text messages that don’t identify themselves and say things like, “Are you available right now?” which makes me wonder what business I am really in, and could I possible get someone I’m actually dating to text me that message and maybe add an interesting picture that later I can post on Facebook when I want to shame her for mistreating me later in the relationship.
“Am I available now?”
If I text ‘yes’ what will happen? And if money changes hands will I get arrested?
Then there are all the questions about the irredeemably obvious:
How tall is it?
See what I said on Craigslist
How wide is it?
See what I said on Craigslist
How long is it?
See above answer.
What color is it?
See picture on Craigslist.
What does it look like?
[Careful pause.] See above response.
How many shelves does the four-shelf shelf for sale have?
I think maybe my answer to that was obscene. . . interestingly because the buyer was a guy, he showed up and bought it anyway. A woman would have posted outraged and self-righteous hate mail on Facebook and I would have been barred from not only selling furniture, but from the human race, and had my ovaries removed to make sure I didn’t have any children who could observe human behavior and comment with some accuracy about some basic differences between the genders.
Men: Do you still have the item?
Women: Oh that piece is so beautiful. It might fit in my living room.
Men: Can you send me more pics so I can get a better look?
Women: What kind of brown is that brown? Do you know who painted it?
Men: Okay, when can I come and get it?
Women: Let me consult my family and friends to see if I really need such a beautiful shelf after all, although I really like it and it’s unique and it would probably go perfectly in my ___________.
Men: [ACTION. Came and got it and paid full price!]
Because we aren’t talking about a car here. That’s a whole different animal with a lot of working parts that deserves a lot of inquiry. But even with vehicles the conversation is easier.
Me: Nope, not going below 5000.00 for the Honda. I know it’s worth that. Nope sorry. Can’t go lower and look myself in the mirror tomorrow.
Men: Okay. Here you go. [He knows about self-respect.]
Me: Thanks for the five thousand.
Men: You betcha’ [and he drives off in it.]
Meanwhile Back in Furniture Hell:
Me: It held my mother’s giant, HD TV that was bigger than life itself, that took three people and a crane to move.
Woman: I don’t know. I like it right now. But I might not like it later.
I felt a little bit like the Israelis in Palestine and I wondered if I could just hire a drone to drop the fucking shelf on her, but realized I might kill innocent civilians because I’m using the non-map on Craigslist.
The Feminist Protest
And now because of that statement, I’ll probably get ripped a new one from my female audience because I have failed to love all women at all times everywhere, even though many other people would classify me as a rabid feminist. I just can’t win. I prefer to call myself a ‘rapid feminist,’ and I’m going to leave the meaning of that your imagination and to the comment box (which is conveniently hidden under the “Tags” at the bottom of each blog post. No, I did not put it there. Word Press did. You need Google maps and a flashlight to find it. Brilliant.)
Women tend to interview me about the piece of furniture, as if what they have in their house really fucking matters.
Yes This Really Happened: The Shelf
The following is an excerpt from several days of negotiation about a 4-shelf shelf that was listed on Craigslist with a picture and a very precise description.
Her: Where is it from? Who is the manufacturer?
Me: I don’t know. My brother put the thing together for my mother 7 years ago and it’s been moved 4 times since then. Did I mention it is a metal shelf?
Her: What kind of metal is it? Is it shiny?
Me: Yes, it’s shiny. It’s some kind of composite and appears to be rust proof.
Her: How tall is it?
Me: Well that is posted on the ad. But I’m 5’3” and it’s as tall as I am.
Her: Well I have other shelves too.
Her: Oh I think this shelf would definitely get along with other shelves. It’s shiny and goes with everything.
Her: What kind of condition is it in?
Me: Oh, well, there’s no indication of any psychological problems. Not based on its behavior so far.
Me: [I paused. Shit, I’d gotten sucked in to the whole thing). Perfect. Except for a tiny wobble, but the leg is adjustable. In fact the whole thing is adjustable.
Her: What adjustments do you think I’d need to make?
Me: I don’t know. It would depend on your needs in the moment. (At this point I am not sure if I’m a psychologist or a furniture salesman or a guru. At this point I am also refraining from suggesting a different sort of adjustment which is probably not recommended by the manufacturer.)
Her: I know I like the piece now. . . but do you think it’s the kind of shelf that I’m going to like ten years from now?
Me: [Inside voice: how do you know you are even going to be alive 10 years from now?] Outside voice: Oh, Absolutely. It comes with a 10 year guarantee. I just found the paperwork here in a drawer of another shit piece of furniture I’m trying to get rid of. Either buy it or don’t but can we please get off the fucking phone? I haven’t eaten in three days now and I’m getting woozy.
I actually stopped with “absolutely.” Maybe it isn’t her fault she’s an idiot.
Her: What else can you tell me about the shelf?
What else can I tell you about the shelf? IT’S A SHELF!!!!!
This is apparently is the furniture warehouse equivalent of the query, often used in job interviews and dates: Tell Me About Yourself. (For how these two things are actually not dissimilar see the future, when I write about it.)
I had to stop myself from falling into an insecure doubt, installed by social media, that perhaps I had missed something, and now all material objects come with some kind of autobiography that I should have known by heart by now, or at least be able to read off The Shelf’s twitter feed. Is this what Shelf Life really means?
I took a drink. From a flask marked: I hate selling things to people.
I should only sell things to pets. I’d be a great dog salesman. Want this bit of food that’s been in my car for a week?
Pant pant. Sure.
Armed with this bright view of the future, I threw my flask into the yard, and began to practice deep breathing and then began some dialog I know many men have used in their lives: I’m not sure what to say, honey.
I omitted the word honey. Even though we’d been in negotiations for three days, I still didn’t feel that level of intimacy was appropriate, especially since I’m gay. I didn’t want to deal with what she’d say to her husband, and this woman definitely has a husband, otherwise she wouldn’t know how to torture me with questions I don’t know how to answer and make me feel guilty at the same time.
If I’d said that word, she would have said to her husband later: I would have bought that shelf darling, if she hadn’t sexually harassed me. She called me honey. (I can feel the husband’s empathy for me from here).
I would have answered these accusations with the mature and well thought out argument: Well she started it! She emailed me, three times and called me twice before I even knew that someone was interested in my shelf. That’s a lot of pressure. If we’d been dating I’d have folded like a deck of cards under the subtext: I want you I want you I want you. So naturally I called back, and tried to answer all her questions. She made me believe.
So then we had the unending discussion of when she would come meet the shelf, make friends, pay me and take it home with her. She changed the times twice. What dedication! With all that attention to detail and biography, I knew she’d come and pick it up. Sold! Whenever I pay that much attention to anything, you can be sure I’m going to marry whatever it is even if it’s bad for me.
So she calls me the next day and says she’s not coming because she’s found someone else. I mean something else, something about someone having some shelves that went along with some other shelves better, and she knew their history and angle of juxtaposition of her pantry to her personality–
What kind of shelf that would be, I am scared to think about…one that probably can’t decide what is best for it and can’t even get out of its box because of all the existential issues involved?
She hoped I hadn’t been inconvenienced.
Jesus Christ in a sidecar.
Irritated I stopped wasting words on her and said, “Fine,” and I hung up before she abused me with any more specious reasoning, obsessions about details, and false promises, leading me to my new rule about dealing with people: asking a lot of questions doesn’t mean shit.
Just buy the goddamn shelf or shut up about it.
There should really be no talking in furniture transaction situations. Grunting and pointing is really all that is needed. Or perhaps some strict rules: Each person is allowed three questions max….It’s a shelf. How many questions can you possible ask about a SHELF?
The Problem with Words
I think most people do not know how to use words, or what they are for and that language is meant to make things better between people and to glean information, not to just be used whenever you fucking feel like it, like the iPhone, internet and Netflix, or asking me a million questions that you should already know the answers to just because you have me on the phone.
Just because some words are there, doesn’t mean you should use them.
This would prevent us from having to pay for the consequences of misusing speech: like not asking questions when we shouldn’t, and not asking enough questions when we should.
How Buying Furniture Is Not Like Dating or Getting Married
Most people spend more time asking about a bit of furniture than they do when deciding to get married. In fact, if people asked as much about fellow humans as they do about things they are about to purchase, they would not even go on dates.
So perhaps the not-asking and not-knowing anything useful about your partner is an evolutionary device, much needed in order to get along with anyone who is also human. Ignorance and delusion promote the survival of the species, (but can’t comment on its quality.) Perhaps if we had to buy our lovers our relationships would be more successful.
Yes honey, I only have three shelves and I’m never going to have four, so either get over it and make a purchase or move on.
Why Buying Each Other Might Be a Good Idea
Buying humans however has a sad history.
Bear in mind I’m trying to insult everyone today. If you feel left out from not having been insulted yet, just hang on.
But let’s not make assumptions: let’s think this through.
Having to buy a human had a certain amount of wisdom (consult human history and stop getting angry at me in the spirit of political ineptness –I mean correctness– that no one takes seriously. Being PC would have worked by now if it was going to, just like the Just Say No movement.)
If we bought our girlfriends and wives we could ask things like:
What are her teeth like? Hips? Will having a kid kill her? How deep? How wide? What color? What does she look like? Will her looks last? Is that a real four- shelf shelf? Would you look at that! Sold!
And for the men (I want to equalize the oppression and objectification here. Every man likes it, even though he says he doesn’t.)
Women can ask: How much will he hold? Is he sturdy? Has he been successful at being a dresser or is there room for improvement? Does he know who he is? Does he take initiative and provide services for which you haven’t thought of yet? Does he fix things (like décor) without being asked? Is he reliable or will he collapse in the next quake, thunderstorm, shopping spree or long drawn out conversation about the relationship? Can he handle the big items he will be asked to be responsible for? Will he protect what we value? Is he versatile? What will he do when the cat jumps on him?
I really think that people would do better to use these questions on dates instead of in my garage in front of my used furniture as if I really care about the crap I am selling. You are not dating or marrying your furniture and if you don’t like it, you can sell it on Craigslist. You cannot do that with people. I’ve checked. I was trying to see if I could sell my brother and get a new one.
I’ve sold about 11 items in the past 2 months. All but two were sold to men. One woman acted like me: saw the chair, wanted the chair, bartered for the chair, got the chair and hauled it off and the chair and her mother are now living happily ever after.
It was all I could do not to ask for her phone number.