Craig’s List engenders several kinds of happiness

by Rob Tiller

    Now that the sale of our house is less than three weeks out, we’re moving into high gear preparing for the move to our new condo in Raleigh at West at North.   One major project is off loading the still useful big items we won’t be needing in future.  Those included a drum set, an electric piano, a bedroom suite, another bed, a kitchen table with chairs, an entertainment center, an elaborate bookcase, and two oriental rugs.  

    In the last couple of weeks I’ve had success selling some of those items on Craig’s List.  Being new to Craig’s List, I spent some time climbing the learning curve, and expended some energy evaluating the market for used furniture and instruments.  But the bedroom furniture went in three days.  The drums and the piano took about a week.  The other stuff is still around, if anyone’s interested.  No reasonable offer will be refused.

   Craig’s List, as everyone knows, has had a hand in killing traditional newspapers, and for that I cannot love them.  But it’s easy to see why most everyone would prefer dealing with Craig’s List than dealing with traditional newspaper classifieds.  They’re cheaper (i.e. free), easier to make, easier to read, more reliable (with photos to scrutinize), and safer and more pleasant to use (with email and cellphone screens).  My dad, a lifelong classifieds addict, would have been hooked.

   One of the things I learned about Craig’s List is that everyone feels they must ask for a discount, though no one very much likes to do it.  Requested bargains were generally 10-15% off list.  I readily accepted every offered amount.  My no-bargaining approach would have disappointed my father, who taught me well how to bargain for the best price, but I calculated that total happiness would tend to be maximized in these cases by not pushing for the last dollar.

    The most unexpected aspect of my Craig’s List sales so far was how generally filled with happiness they were.  I expected to enjoy getting some additional dollars, which I was, but the non-monetary pleasure was much more interesting.  I’ve seen an interesting variety of people — among them, young guy moving into first apartment, young married couple in first home, dad getting something for daughter, bar owner getting instruments for open mike night.  And everyone has been courteous and friendly.  And everyone has been pleased with their new goods and the deal they obtained.  It’s really pleasant seeing your well loved but superseded possessions headed toward a good new home, where they may bring additional happiness.

   Another good thing:  Sally is completely delighted with all this.  She loves to see unneeded items heading out the door, to see extra cash flowing in, and see our fellow humans contended and behaving well.  She’s full of admiration for my apparent competence at this (to us) new enterprise.  

   It’s also been pleasant to deal with the guy-type problems that are very different from the intellectual problems that usually take most of my daily energy — problems like how to disassemble a bed frame, how to move a big bureau down the stairs, and how to tie a mattress on top of a car.  Cooperatively solving those kinds of puzzles is satisfying in itself, and reconnects one to one’s essential guyness.  I was reminded of the supreme competence of my dad in such practical matters (there never was a better packer of a car trunk), and found myself missing him.