Well over a decade ago we got our first home computer. It was an inexpensive set with a monitor that had a small screen, but was absurdly large otherwise. We were dial-up customers then and logging on was noisy and time consuming. My wife and three boys were quick studies, but I kept a safe distance from this new piece of home technology that I initially found very intimidating. I watched as my kids typed at the speed of sound, using both hands like my high school typing teacher tried to get me to do way back in 1973, but with little success...
After a year of being a spectator I began attempting to use the keyboard and mouse. I even took an evening course offered at the Attleboro High School to learn how to use the computer more efficiently. Once I discovered eBay I knew I had found my place on the World Wide Web!
After mastering the basics I was hooked. Buying on eBay was “man-easy”. Where my wife and her girlfriends loved hitting the Wrentham Outlet, I hated it, but I didn’t mind shopping from home. It was a perfect fit, a little too perfect…
In categories like bicycle parts, baseball gloves, motorcycle parts, leather jackets, to name just a few, I was hitting my stride and not looking back. Man was this easy! The prices were great and as a result I was able to buy more items and when I did look back, more items than I could possibly need.
Flash forward fifteen years and I realized many of those items had never been removed from their original packing- they were still brand new! Suffering through the recession made me consider becoming a seller on eBay. Once I started to list my items I began selling at an unbelievable rate, moving as many as five items a day. I became a regular at the Norton Post Office. The nice thing about selling on eBay is you can print labels from home and either deliver the packages to the PO or hand them to your local carrier. I opted to drive to the PO and get a receipt that I keep on file.
At first it was a bit difficult watching all my treasures leaving for their new destinations, but I was reminded frequently by you-know-who that I “hadn’t used the stuff so why not sell it?” I shamefully agreed- she was right (again!).
Then I started selling on Craigslist. A different experience all together, but overall not a bad one. I’ve met some pretty nice people who share my interest in bicycles, motorcycles, and baseball. I met a guy in Canton at Cobb’s Corner and sold him a Daisuke Matsuzaka M18 Signature Model Glove. We talked baseball for an hour and a half in front of Papa Ginos. He was the player/coach of a team and Doug Flutie was on his roster. An attractive woman in her mid-thirties from Littleton, MA drove down route 495 for a luggage rack and a brake rod cover for her Harley Davidson. After talking a bit she revealed that she was also an avid bicyclist. We had a great conversation. A man and his wife drove up from Norwich, Connecticut, my old hometown, and bought a dual suspension KHS mountain bike. Then there was the 6’2” 34 year old man originally from Germany. With a thick German accent he told how his mother had sold his BMX bike on him when he was a kid, he came to Norton and with a wide smile bought my son’s Hoffman BMX bike. He did look awkward test riding it, but he was extremely happy and that’s all that mattered. A 75 year old soft-spoken gentleman from Whitman secured a ride to Norton and bought a Nikon 4004s film camera. He said he had had one for years, but recently left it on a plane after a lengthy flight. He was happier buying it than I was selling it. To him it was the return of a lost treasure.
The most interesting Craigslist transaction involved an abandoned bicycle. I drove by a wooded lot and saw an abandoned road bicycle. Aside from being a lugged steel frame, fantastic blue in color with a white seat tube, it had a flat rear tire, shredded handlebar wrap, collapsed seat post, ripped seat, and a crooked handlebar. I slowed and took a closer look. I knew that you-know-who wouldn’t appreciate me bringing home a stray, so I drove on. After doing an errand I drove past it again. I slowed, looked, and drove away. Then I slammed on the brakes, backed up the mini van, and took her home! I couldn’t help myself-
The bike spent several days in my basement before I looked it over to see what it needed. Way too much. Bad idea. I’ll put it back where I found it in the morning.
Next day I loaded it up and drove to the wooded spot, but I couldn’t do it. I was fearful that some kids would get it and play “crash”. I did an errand and on my way back I almost left it, but I didn’t. I took it home again, but this time I was determined to fix it up.
I removed the rear wheel and then the tire and installed a new tube. I removed the axle nuts and put on some new shiny ones. I adjusted the front and rear brakes. I removed the ripped saddle and installed a new one I had hanging around, adjusting the seat post. I took off the old bar tape, cleaned the bar, and wrapped it with some really nice Mavic padded bar tape. I removed the damaged water bottle holder and pump bracket and installed a new black bottle cage. I adjusted the stem and stem shifter and then I cleaned the entire bike, chain and drive-train included. I lubed everything. When I was done the bike was mechanically sound and gorgeous! I took it for a short ride and I liked it! I took some pictures of it and put it on Craigslist for $200.
I got several calls and one caller was local and wanted to come right over. She asked some strange questions, hinting that she was very interested in this bike…
I brought the bike outside and leaned it up against the mini van. It looked great, like a new bike! The girl arrived with two male friends; she was about 20 years old, 5’4” tall, and wearing a red bandanna covering her light brown hair. After a brief introduction the girl walked cautiously in front of the bicycle, staring at it from different angles. I suggested she take it for a ride. She declined. Then she asked me how long I owned it. I said a short time. Then she asked where I got it. I said locally. Then she said it looks just like her bike that had been stolen off her front lawn…
I immediately came clean. I admitted to rescuing the bike from sure disaster and then fixing it. I assured her I would not steal a bicycle, that I had been a competitive cyclist and I owned several high end bikes. I told her how and where I found it, what condition it was in at that time, and what I had to do to make it roadworthy. Now wearing an angry expression and a resolute disposition, she insisted it was her bike. I said “I believe you- take it!” She asked where her seat was and told her it was ripped almost in half so I replaced it. She said I could take all my parts off if I wanted, but I took the high road and told her to take the bike as it was, cleaned, tuned and ready to ride. As she loaded it up I explained to her that had I not picked it up off the side of the road she would never have seen it again. That not only was I not the thief, I had rescued her bicycle and repaired it at no cost to boot- She thanked me and drove off!
It has become my most celebrated Craigslist story and least profitable transaction.
All things considered I’m having a lot of fun selling off all my collections and worldly possessions on eBay and Craigslist. Sure beats having a yard sale! I’m over the disappointment of parting with my stuff and I’m enjoying the profits and the all too familiar joy my buyers express.
But, with every sale I have to wonder how long before these buyers become sellers themselves…