Thursday, October 30, 2008


Most of you have probably perused Craigslist at one time or another. I've used it numerous times to get an apartment or a roommate. Two of those experiences have been decent for me in the roommate department.

What is Craigslist, if you don't already know?

The service was founded in 1995 by Craig Newmark for the San Francisco Bay Area. After incorporation as a private for-profit company in 1999, Craigslist expanded into nine more U.S. cities in 2000, four each in 2001 and 2002, and 14 in 2003. As of September 2007, Craigslist has established itself in approximately 450 cities in 50 countries.

Basically the site offers free or cheap classified ads, for real estate, furniture, stuff, jobs, and personals.

I remember back in the day when Craigslist was only in "big" cities like D.C. Eventually CL even expanded to the city I used to live in, El Paso.

For used items, Craigslist rules. I've bought my couch on the site. Most recently... a Select Comfort Sleep Number bed.

This mattress retails in a queen size anywhere from $1600 - $2200. For what's really a very fancy air bed. So when I searched CL, and discovered a 5000 model that claimed to be in "excellent condition" and six months old for $500 I jumped at it. I called Heidi and asked if she'd take $450. She accepted. This woman told me she worked at a tattoo shop and would have her brother take apart the bed, then pick her up to deliver it to me. Interesting. She lived in Palm Harbor, which is north of where I live in St. Petersburg. This was at 5 p.m.

In the meantime, I went in search of Lysol to disinfect the mattress, a good mattress cover (since it was a used mattress after all) and some queen sized sheets. First, I stopped at a Sears Essentials store. For a year now, I'd thought it was some kind of Sears furniture outlet. It is not. Apparently it used to be a Kmart and has kept the same type of store items. But... the store is closing in January so it will be liquidating inventory soon. The sheets were rather expensive for the cheap quality, and the mattress covers were $30. I passed on those. There was some Lysol priced at $2.79 but when I checked out at the register - discovered it was on sale mysteriously for $1.81. Not bad.

Next stop: TJ Maxx, where I procured hotel style striped 350 thread count chocolate brown sateen sheets for $29.99. This store did not have any mattress covers.

Since Target was in the same shopping plaza, I ended up there and bought a Rival 6-cup rice cooker for $12.99 and a mattress cover for $29.99. Just can't win on the mattress cover.

Rushing home, I didn't want to miss Heidi's arrival. It was now 6:15 p.m. My fiance Tim was at home breaking apart and storing whole chickens and an entire pork loin we'd found at Sams Club.

I decided to call Heidi. Somehow she'd ended up near Eckerd College, which is 15 minutes south of where I live... Hmm...

So Tim and I waited as he cooked grouper, pasta, and a balsamic tomato sauce. When supper was ready, I gave her another call. She was almost here!

Five minutes later: she had accidentally gotten onto the Howard Frankland Bridge ie: I-275 to Tampa. Uh oh.. She had to turn around.

Tim and I ate dinner.

Heidi, her brother, and her brother's girlfriend arrived around 9 p.m. They quickly brought up all of the parts for the mattress. Some of the foam pieces to be inserted were ripped but still usable. The air pump had some nicks on it. Six months old my ass, Tim and I thought. The pillowtop mattress cover was dirty. I Lysol'ed the heck out of it and after we put the mattress together, I immediately zippered up the waterproof cover from Target. That was a good purchase!

Still, I couldn't believe that someone from this area would have this much trouble getting to my address, which is in a fairly central location. AND they had a GPS. Seriously?

In order to defray the cost of this pricey mattress, which is, I might add, comfortable to the tune of $450 but certainly not $1600, I decided to sell some items on Craigslist.

  • Nintendo Wii, Wii Fit, & Guitar Hero III with wireless controller - $375
  • My old 8" memory foam mattress - $50
  • A Panasonic 19" TV/VCR combo - $20

The day I placed these ads, I sold the TV. The guy was a new dad/family man type who wanted a junk television for their patio. He had little trouble getting to my apartment.

One day later, another man was all set to come to look at the Nintendo Wii items. I was at work, so I asked Tim to meet up with him. That seemed to go alright, except for the fact that the guy had questions about the system and I wasn't answering the phone so Tim had to stall... He set up the Wii for this potential buyer, and he ended up staying at our house for an hour and a half. He did buy everything though.

That evening a guy named Ray was going to come check out the mattress. He had told me it was for a female friend who had just moved to Clearwater. Ray had a Sarasota area code on his phone, and he was incredibly hard to understand. He made little to no sense, and was honestly pretty weird. We made arrangements for him and his "friend"? to come to our house around 7 p.m.

At approximately 8:45, Ray called to say that they were on their way. At 9:15 he called again to say that he, too, had accidentally gotten onto the bridge to Tampa. If a driver passes my complex they have no choice but to get on I-275 to Tampa. However, this is very obvious and there are signs everywhere. Ray also sounded strung out on... Something. Drugs? Beer? I'm not quite sure but at this point, I felt uncomfortable with the idea of this weird person coming to my house at 9:30 at night. I told him this and he still kept trying to keep me on the phone to give him directions. I'm selling a mattress, not offering the services of Mapquest.

Now, I've gotten lost before like anyone else. But if I'm going somewhere, typically before I leave I make sure to look up where I'm going and familiarize myself with the area via Google Maps. I don't understand how these people can get so utterly lost. I mean, they were intelligent enough to be able to find an item they were looking for on Craigslist and know how to generally work a computer. Why does it take them four times as long as it should to get to a nearby location???

Since the mattress was still unsold, a man named Joe made it to the apartment the night after the Ray debacle, and he needed absolutely no help with directions. When I got home from work I found him standing outside my building. He needed the mattress because he was in the process of getting a divorce and gave his soon to be ex-wife the one they shared. He seemed nice enough and at least was not a moron. He paid cash and before leaving, wished Tim and I the best in our marriage as his case should not discourage us.

At least he got a great deal on the memory foam mattress that he'll be sleeping alone on.