Yesterday, I bought three beds. I know. That’s a shitload of beds. Maybe I shouldn’t have had so much coffee and increased my dose of antidepressants. Still, talk about good deals. I bought them all on craigslist, which I think is not capitalized, because it is the invention of 30-something people who don’t capitalize anymore. They also end declarative sentences with question marks. A tentative bunch, don’t you think?
Well, I’m here to tell you that, under the influence of caffeine, antidepressants, and a tax refund, I bought three bed frames and two mattresses for $900. Total. Not tentatively at all. Now, that’s a lot of money, but I will tell you that if I’d been insane enough to buy those beds in the actual stores they come from, I’d have paid $4,000. Also, the people in this family have not slept on real beds and/or beds that fit them for YEARS. It’s time for some changes around here.
As it turns out, there’s a trick to this kind of shopping — and you can scale it down, if you don’t happen to be under the influence of the above-mentioned stimulants and/or all you need is, say, a bike you can ride around town with, a bike for which you have, say a $100 budget, and your eyes on a $500 bike.
I give you this information totally free, although I really should be selling it on the internet.
Get yourself on craigslist. You have to live in a big city to do this, by the way, although if you have friends in big cities, they could act as your agents, although how you’d get your new bed to your small town, I’m not sure. But it would definitely work with a bike. Your friends will, without a doubt, be coming to visit you in your small town, which we all know is mellower and more beautiful than a big city. And they will schlep your purchase to you. In fact, if you live in a charming small town I can reach in a car without a ton of trouble and you would like me as a visitor, I’m happy to be your craigslist agent. For a bike, or a bike-sized piece of furniture (aka ottoman, desk, and/or chair). Maybe not a bed.
Step one: Know what you want. The name, the retail price, or at least the style and type of thing. Know how much you’re willing to spend. Don’t deviate too much because you think you’re getting a great deal. It’s not a great deal if it’s something you don’t need.
Step two: Scope out the sellers. The best sellers are people who (a) have suddenly come into a lot of money (software startup people, recent biz school graduates with no family, college students, whose families have decided — wrongly, in fact — to give their kids a lot of cash to buy stuff to furnish their first apartments and people in jobs that require them to leave the bay area to go to some other metropolitan area to work in a soul sucking, but money producing job), (b) have to leave town fast (because they, just for example, sold their startup to google, are moving to Manhattan to further destroy the world’s economies, got kicked out of school and have to return home), (c) never liked the stuff they bought anyway.
You don’t necessary have to have all of these things, but it helps if you have two. I will also say that I don’t mean to sound cynical or snarky about craigslist sellers. The three people I bought my beds from where (a) a charming and generous Italian software startup guy who’s moving back to Italy; (b) a very patient, business-like, thirty-something guy with great taste who’s moving in with his girlfriend and doesn’t need his BEAUTIFUL bed, and (c) a very hip guy in the Castro who was incredibly sweet and is moving into a less noisy, but smaller apartment. One thing these people have in common is that they are all (a) guys and (b) on the move and (c) without a family.
Step 3. And then you find what you want, waiting until you do, and then you offer immediate cash and immediate removal of the item.
Step 4. Safety. I like to think of this as recycling, in which objects do not have to continue being made just because somebody’s moving to Manhattan. I also like meeting new people. Sure, occasionally I think I am going to be murdered, or someone tells me I am (bargains can be dangerous!) but really, it’s so much fun that I’ll take the risk. (Plus, I google the people first, and/or visit them in public in the daytime or with a bodyguard, aka, the husband.)
Now, here’s the real safety tip: I have one inviolable rule, one that has turned out to work beautifully in my craigslist adventures, which I have obviously lived to speak about. I only buy stuff from people who can write a decent e-mail. They must know how to punctuate and spell. They must write in complete sentences. For some reason, I just don’t think that somebody who knows how to write a good e-mail, one that doesn’t give off a whiff of “I’m nuts,” will kill me when I show up to buy their Room and Board bed. I could be wrong. I’ll have my heirs let you know if that happens.
Yes, I am aware that buying beds raises the dreaded bedbug issue. I’m going with unlikely on that one, but I’ll tell you if it happens. Although, would you want to know?
Finally, in news unrelated to beds, my agent sent me his notes on my book. Great ideas. He’s such a smart guy. And I’m working through them. They seem to require that I change the ending and give characters slightly different motivations and fears. It’s fun. It’s also terrifying. Plus, I gave a couple of characters new names. I enjoyed that — it’s sure not something you can do in real life. I just hope the people I know who happen to have those names don’t get mad at me.