December 31, 2009

I WANT to believe...

Craig Newmark on his unintended successful creation Craigslist: “All I can do is suggest people could return to basics, in the sense that our site is about meeting people’s every day, real needs, like getting a place to live or a job. We operate in a culture of trust and a lot of that has to do with our core values, like treating people like you want to be treated. That means being serious about customer service and listening and following through.”

I want to believe in the innate goodness in people. I desire to feel comfortable trusting someone who extends a helping hand. Even more, I want my husband to believe.

It’s hard, though. It’s a scary world out there. And it isn’t helped by shows like CSI, Without a Trace and the like. Or movies… those cinema thrillers that mimic, or sometimes envisage, real life and cast doubts and fear into the minds of the viewers. The worst is the actual news. Reading about abductions of children who are found years later after serving as a sexual slave to their typically devout (read: religiously fanatic) captor. Or good people who are active in their community with large families filled with biological and adopted children, some with special needs, who are murdered during a… ROBBERY attempt. Great the kids are unharmed. But seriously… this is the payback those parents get? Or even Craigslist, as mentioned above. A community of people helping people. And yet, “Craigslist Murder” captured headlines everywhere when a masseuse-for-hire is killed by a man who, according to his fiancé, “could not hurt a fly”.

I want to believe in the general goodness of humans. I am a fan of Craigslist, despite the Craigslist Murder this year. Of course, I would not be selling my body or looking for a partner on that site (or any site)… but goods, yes, I have looked, I have sold, and I have purchased. I prefer Craigslist to e-bay because Craigslist is free. It’s a negotiation between two people who have the power of being honest, fair and honorable without third-party fees and intervention. Now, that said, e-bay’s securities are a nice fallback, and I have done my fair share of purchasing and selling there as well. But Craigslist is cleaner; to me… it is a bare-bones negotiation. No bidding and over bidding and losing. It’s a straight up “here’s what I have” and “here’s what I’m offering”. Maybe a slight banter back and forth. But I’ve gotten some great deals, and received some too.

Seriously… we broke up half of our concrete block porch last year. A pile of cinder block in my yard is not conducive to happy neighbors, healthy dogs, or lawn mowing. We couldn’t afford a dumpster and we didn’t want to haul one or two pieces to the curb every week (we’d still be doing that) in the hopes that it would get taken away in our normal trash. Enter: Craigslist. I posted an ad that basically said “Free to good home, cinder block, slightly used. You haul.” WHO in the heck would ever respond to something like that?! I’ll tell you… I had no less than 6 people respond and that cinder block was gone by the end of the following week. No money out of hand… and the last person to pick it up even “cleaned up” my yard for me by piling the little pieces up against the fence. OMG!

So, last night, I sat in bed on my laptop and browsed through the “barter” section of Craigslist. Are people really successful at trading goods and services? I don’t know. Many of those ads really sounded hokey. But some sounded SO sincere. Did I dare post? What kinds of crazies would come out of the woodwork? And for those who might respond… could I trust them?! I posted. “Needed: Car Repair. In exchange for trade – no cash – we can offer computer/laptop repair, refurbished computer or laptop, computer software training or scrapbooking services”.


I went to bed just knowing that no one would respond. Seriously… car repair services for scrapbooking? How high is my head in the clouds?

This morning I check my email. FOUR responses. FOUR! Three serious responses (one just diagnosing my problem, not offering to fix it). Now I’m in a quandary. I want to trust that they would do a good job and not screw up my son’s car even more. I want to trust that they aren’t just out to “case my house” or get a laptop from us while they toss some chewing gum on a gasket (or something… I’m not car savvy, but you get my drift). But I’m stuck. I don’t know how to proceed.

I just really want to believe…


  1. Ghandi: You must be the change you wish to see in the world.

    Good luck! :)

  2. No advice on the Craig's List barter quandary, but I did also want to mention freecycle (it's a yahoo group based venture) that is also a terrific way to get rid of unusual, unwanted things.
    Good luck! Looking forward to reading the end of the story.

  3. I know what you mean, but I would have a little faith, I mean, they are doing the same. You could give them a crap laptop and they could really fix the car. I know you wouldn't do that, but they don't. Sometimes it is good to put a little faith out there in the world.


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