Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Stranger Danger

I hate Craigslist. I do. It makes me so uncomfortable that any potential benefit of a quick profit or easy sale is quickly masked by my racing "worst case scenario" thoughts and compulsive googling about the seller/buyer. My sister, on the other hand, has basically furnished her entire new house with top-of-the-line furniture she found on Craigslist for a fraction of the price.

But I simply cannot embrace the process of posting something anonymously online and having some stranger show up (or show up to a stranger's creepy house in the middle of abandoned woods), hand over cash and then just exchange goods without incident. It seems way too...I don't know, naive.

Recently, I had to buy something off Craigslist. I had no other options. I called my sister and my mom and was like "Hi. I am getting something off Craigslist and I need to not go get it by myself. It's not big, I'm just petrified."

So they humored me and agreed to come with me. Before we headed out, I googled everything I could about the seller, Google street-mapped the address he gave me and checked out every link on a website of his that I found to make sure they didn't send me to some black market wife-swapping/kidnapping webpage. Then I went to the bank, got out some cash and wrote down the serial numbers of the bills in case I went missing and the kidnapper tried to use my own money to buy duct tape and rope (or whatever it is that those crazy kidnappers are using these days) before sharpening my fingernails into a point and heading out.

Flanked by my body guards (my mom and sister), I got into the car and we drove 40 minutes to the guy's office building. About 3 minutes into the ride, I started sweating and trying to think of everything I've been taught in kickboxing and Karate Kid in preparation for the exchange. Who in their right mind goes to a stranger's house, goes inside and gives them money!? I was making the same terrible decision that every idiot chick makes in every scary movie: walking right into a trap! What was I doing?!

I gave the cash to my sister and pleaded, "You have to do this! I'm so scared!" And she laughed and was like "Okay, crazy. I'll take care of it."

So we get to this tiny office building and the guy shows up with a woman who was either his wife or latest victim. I get out of the car with Prinna and whisper "OMG. YOU BE PHARON!" and luckily she complied and introduced herself as me. They let "Pharon" and "Crazy" into the front lobby, which had been pitch black when we first arrived. I stood with one foot out the door and the other just barely past the threshold while Prinna examined the goods. The lady went to get something and the guy looks at me and says, "Shut that door, please." And he said it, like, menacingly. My heart raced and it was all I could do to keep from running away and leaving my sister, my mom and my cash behind.

So the woman's gone, the guy has instructed me to shut the door - "tightly" - and he is encouraging us to examine our purchase. Bend over a box with my back to the guy AND the door?! NO THANK YOU. I leaned over for a second, but kept my eyes squarely on the man's hands in case he reached for a statue to hit me on the back of my head with.

Prinna paid the guy, and then we hauled a$$ out of there. Back in the safety of the car, I had an odd thought. For as scared as I was to be showing up to this guy's place, I couldn't help but think how sketchy I looked.

For starters, what kind of name is "Pharon"? He probably had no idea WHAT to expect. I show up at night in a conversion van, and then whisper something to my companion/accomplice while I wait in a dark parking lot. Inside, I stand with my foot out the door, seemingly on the lookout for a getaway car. I stare eerily at the man, flinch when he asks me to close the door, show no interest in the item and shift nervously as the woman leaves the room.

The point is that I do not understand how ANYONE gets through a Craigslist transaction without firing a taser out of sheer panic. But, at least I got what I wanted, for a helluva deal and didn't get kidnapped or robbed. Score.


Madeline Solien said...

I once gave away a free queen sized mattress on CL and the dudes that came to pick it up told me it was going to be used in a movie....I'm pretty sure that make me famous somehow...Also I sold a giant television that a guy picked up within an hour in a cab..it was weird

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