by David Kish
One can learn about humanity by reading craigslist, and I mean more than how much musicians love music jargon, or how lazy students can be these days (for example, one ad in the "writing gigs" section simply states: "home work - don't care"). An even deeper insight into the state of humankind can be found in the "free" section of craigslist, where words rise to great heights of depth, and one can find all the "free rabbit manure" one needs.
Photos mean little in the "free" section. Someone's "free flagpole" photo shows, as best as I can tell, no flagpole at all! The lister enigmatically ads "email if you have questions on how to find it, or if you would like me to check if it is still there." Yes, it's the words that intrigue here, though spelling errors abound. For example, free "concrete ruble" I imagine is NOT a prehistoric Russian coin, especially when described as having "small chuncks." But, let's forgive spelling, ignore the scant visuals, and savor the written content.
One post offers "a few things in a box." These things are (in no particular order): "a wig," "a few stuffed animals - frogs," "a southwestern style shower curtain," and "pantyhose - not used still in box." (I assume that would be an additional box inside the larger box.) Never mind, this is already uncomfortably personal because I'm thinking about
putting the wig and pantyhose on the stuffed frog and making a diminutive matching wardrobe from the shower curtain.
See? This "free" section has very curious subtexts! For example, a surprising number of people offer "a single wood pallet." Considering wood pallets adorn most dumpsters around Tucson and would be as easy to obtain as a sunburn, I think these poor folks are just looking for some human contact. Maybe they should list their pallet in the personal section; or maybe just put a wig and pantyhose on it.
"Mary" bilingually advertises "empty oatmeal boxes," and concludes "you must come and pick them up!" Sounds forboding; like there are no oatmeal boxes, and Mary's front door will slam shut behind me, and Mary will start laughing maniacally, and I'll suddenly be in a Stephen King story...
Someone named "Troy" is advertising "free rocks," but not just any rocks: "a very nice and loving family of rocks." Troy also states that these rocks are "in need of a good home." Well, Troy, if you love these rocks so much why are you giving them away for free, huh? Can you no longer afford to feed them? He includes two mugshots of the rocks, and I guess beauty is in the eye of the beholder, because they look like regular rocks to me.
The craigslist "free" section raises difficult and disturbing - even philosophical - questions. For instance, if there is no chest to go with your "drawers," can you really call them "drawers?" Wouldn't they be more like topless boxes with knobs? Even more perplexing is a free "mobilehome" which has "no axles or tires." How can that be called "mobile?" Or, a "hair straightener" that "no longer heats up." Well, that's not really a hair straightener anymore, is it? It's more like a hair puller!
A "free baby car seat" apparently "needs to be hosed off." Uh-oh. Yet, the ad claims that "the seat has never been in an accident." Now that's just confusing! Someone else is giving away "a lot of hangars." How many, you ask? The ad continues, "I'm not sure how many...it's a lot." OK, then.
"Soft paws kitten size thirty caps clear." That's all this one ad says. I have no idea what that means, but say it five times in a row and you just can't stop saying it; it's really catchy!
Suddenly, in the midst of these bizarre and dubious finds, I see "Alaska Cruise" spelled out in that royal blue craigslist font. Wow, a free cruise! Maybe someone won it on the radio and suddenly can't go! What luck! I open the ad only to read "Free Large Alaska Cruise Stencil - it spells out 'Alaska Cruise'."
I put my suitcase back in the closet.
After several pages of this humanity parade, it begins to wane on the funny and wax on the depressing. But then, I finally find someone with a sense of humor. A person looking to part with a "small pile of half bricks" admits that this score is "useful for fill or, you know, making a small pile of half-bricks." Exactly.