1 My Hopeless Love Affair With Craigslist | The Billfold

My Hopeless Love Affair With Craigslist

SousaIn my younger days, I was cursed with an undying and irrational optimism in matters of the heart. Although I was neither very attractive nor particularly charming, I managed to cling perennially to a wisp of hope that some clearly unattainable object of my affection might, against all odds, choose me. The trouble was, my unrealistic hopes were realized, not frequently, but frequently enough to keep me optimistic in the face of repeated failures. This was sporadically wonderful and mostly sad. My experience with Craigslist has been the same, although, happily, the effect on me has not been nearly as depressing.

Generally, for the things I most covet and hope to get cheaply, Craigslist is unavailing and labor-intensive: I have pored over hundreds of listings in search of a ride to Philadelphia when everyone, inexplicably, was driving to Montreal. When I desperately needed a serviceable four-door car, I could find nothing but awful, rust-eaten, homemade-spoiler-bedecked coupes. In short, the ‘list is often better for idle browsing than for targeted searches. (I love idly browsing Craigslist.)

But! Craigslist has its treasures, and every now and then, when I want something so odd and generally expensive that I know with near certainty that I won’t find it within my price range—that it doesn’t even exist nearby—it appears. For example:

Five years ago, I really wanted a cargo bicycle for grocery shopping and to carry my two small children. Cargo bicycles are usually expensive—like $1,000 expensive—so I surfed Craigslist idly, contemplating how far from Connecticut I would be willing to drive for a great deal (“Ohio’s not that far!”). And then, one of these appeared in the marvelously named town of Moosup, Connecticut, for $150—that is, over $1,000 less than retail:


In addition to kids and groceries, it was good for giving rides to members of Hartford’s city council after a few beers.

Yesterday, after a long Craigslist drought, lightning struck again. You see, I am in a marching brass band, and marching brass bands are a lot better when they have at least one sousaphone. The problem with sousaphones (aside from being enormous and totally absurd) is that they cost a fortune. You pretty much can’t get a decent used one for less than $1,000, and good new ones cost as much as a car (although they keep their value a lot better). So my bandmates and I pursued leads here and there in the hopes of acquiring a loaner, scanned Craigslist and Ebay from time to time, and in the mean time contented ourselves with trombones and euphoniums. And then yesterday, for the inexplicably low price of $300, I became the proud owner of the enormous brass instrument shown at the top of this post, which I can sort of play.

And in this way, Craigslist will continue to string me along and keep me scrolling with irrational hope for another handful of years. And you, dear readers? What strangely cheap wonders have kept you in Craigslist’s thrall?



21 Comments / Post A Comment

Lily Rowan (#70)

Ahhh! All summer, I’ve been occasionally looking for a hammock on the old CL, and this post reminded me to do it again, and there is apparently a new-in-box hammock available literally around the corner from me! What?? (It is not particularly cheap, but the proximity is extra important to me as a non-driver….)

moreadventurous (#4,956)

I love CL too! I’ve gotten three houses, a subletter, someone to buy my too-large desk, two jobs, and a bookshelf from it. Currently, I’m on a hunt for a coffee table that is not so fruitful, but I still believeeee!

honey cowl (#1,510)

@moreadventurous We’re looking for a coffee table too (have been for months) and it’s fucking awful. Craiglist y u no coffee table???? And if you do coffee table, why are they all basically retail price?!

moreadventurous (#4,956)

@honey cowl Seriously! And, if I see another Ikea lack table… ugh. I’m actually going to a couple of consignment stores today because of how little I’ve found.

endofherleash (#201)

@moreadventurous i scoured CL for probably a year for a lift-top coffee table that wasn’t that awful light brown color with giant round corners. i had almost given up, but was feeling lucky one day and came across a $50 lift-top table in the exact shade of wood that the rest of our living room furniture is. NEVER STOP BELIEVING

PicNic (#3,760)

I found my therapist on Craigslist – best. find. ever! I love her

andnowlights (#2,902)

@PicNic I want to hear about this!

Meaghano (#529)

@andnowlights ME TOO.

PicNic (#3,760)

@andnowlights @Meaghano WELL, the uncut version is obviously being held for my memoir, which will basically just be titled “Sorry for the Mess”

But, the minor version – I moved to Boston after a horrendous breakup, worked for a daycare center for $12 an hour and had really shitty health insurance (2007). I was desperately lonely and found myself leaning against people on the train for human contact, crying all over the place, and in general Not Doing Well. My insurance didn’t cover mental health and I had found my apartment on craigslist so WHY NOT?! I looked under services, at first hoping to actually find a part-time gig (see: $12/hour in BOSTON) and I saw a therapist that offered sliding scale fees to people that didn’t have mental health insurance. I bit the bullet and emailed her with a brief description of my situation (I could never commit suicide because I would have to clean my house first, which I find too exhausting to contemplate). Her starting/lowest rate was $50/session and I started seeing her weekly at first. I couldn’t afford it but my mom decided it was cheaper than some of the less desirable alternatives (and she loved me!) so she split the cost with me and we each paid $100/month. I now see her every 2 weeks and even though my income has almost tripled, and she knows this, she has never once raised her fee.

(note – once I had her real email address I googled her and found a fancy-ish website with her degree info, and some other things that sounded legit. or, at least legit enough that I was like well if she’s crazy I could probably take her)

Also – I adore her immensely. She tells me that if she wasn’t my therapist, and was 20 years younger, that we’d be friends. I tell her that’s like your mom saying that you’re cool – it doesn’t count. I’ve heard horror stories from my friends about trying a ton of different therapists before they found one they could tolerate but I feel like this woman is, in the words of Anne Shirley, “a kindred spirit.”

nutmeg (#1,383)

@PicNic I have insurance and I pay $65 a session to see my therapist on the “insurance discount” rate. I get to pay her only $13 a session when we hit the family deductible, which should only be another couple of months, hahaha, aahhhhhhh

PicNic (#3,760)

@nutmeg nooooooo! That’s insane! I have great insurance now and I think my therapist copay would be $20, but mine doesn’t take insurance and I’m too invested to find a different/cheaper alternative. I did refer a friend to her and I guess now the sliding scale starts at $60 and I was sort of grandfathered in at $50 because I’ve been going so long.

andnowlights (#2,902)

@PicNic Oh I love it! I love when things out completely not how you expect. Looking for a side gig and finding a therapist that might have saved your life, at the very least, your sanity? it’s amazing. That was a huge chance to take (bad therapists… ruin people) and I’m so glad it worked out! Also, “Not Going Well” pretty much describes how I’m feeling right now, ha ha, even if it’s factually not true.

My insurance feels outrageously complicated now- I pay nothing for anything health related until I hit $990, at which point I pay the full amount until I hit $2000. Then I only pay 20% of the insurance rate per appointment (which is $83 in the full amount, I think? I’ve never left the $990 phase except for a few dollars).

PicNic (#3,760)

@andnowlights your insurance sounds ridiculously complicated! I feel like I would get overwhelmed and not try to do much with it (sort of how I feel about a lot of things).

She really is the best, and definitely saved me! I remember being so hesitant at first (“how is this REALLY going to help?!”) but it’s been transformative. I am now a total convert and think *everyone* could benefit from a little talk therapy. It just helps put everything in perspective. Finding her on Craigslist is a bonus that keeps on giving – people are incredulous every time they hear “I found my therapist on Craigslist”

LookUponMyWorks (#2,616)

@andnowlights Huuuuuggggggssssss.

@PicNic this is an awesome and heartwarming story.

morecakeplease (#6,311)

My husband and I recently purchased a school bus on CL. The vehicle itself is fantastic…the previous owner was not.

honey cowl (#1,510)

@morecakeplease please write about this and publish it on this here site!

RiffRandell (#4,774)

Now that I can almost afford a $4,000 truck they have all but disappeared. Once I have obtained that I can stop dreaming of acquiring free furniture but instead actually get it! Someday I will own a sofa, someday.

jalmondale (#6,721)

Best craigslist find was a full bedroom set for $85 – the sellers were re-doing their guest room and just wanted to be rid of the furniture, and I as a recent grad needed all of it. Bed frame, box spring, mattress, night stand, and dresser, all of which have now survived 3 moves and nearly a decade of use. This was before the bedbug outbreaks, though, so I’d probably be more leery of craigslist mattresses nowadays.

Heather F G (#6,074)

@jalmondale Bed bugs are 1000% what is keeping me off Craigslist at the moment. I’ve found ALL my apartments there, though, and I’ve had generally pretty good luck and no bed bugs.

When we moved to our current house which has like 2x the rooms of any of the apartments we’ve lived before we got a ton of stuff off craigslist. The area is a big military area so there are constant moving sales with nice stuff. We got a pretty much brand new washer and dryer for $500 and a decent lawnmower for $300, which were the two biggest challenges because there are people who buy these things and “fix them up” and resell them on craigslist and I didn’t want to deal with a pro, I just wanted to buy someones stuff that wasn’t going to use it anymore. We also got some furniture – a vintage-y little drop-leaf kitchen table and two chairs set for $40 (the only thing we had to sit on for two days until our movers arrived) and a storage bench for $25.

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