Monday, August 23, 2010

WANTED: Suitcase full of money, small bills preferred (Gimmeville)

I'm not sure, but I think the "WANTED" post I saw today on my Freecycle™ group violates the spirit of the group:

WANTED: Fresh Eggs (Town Name)

Anyone have hens that have extra eggs to share?


According to their website, The Freecycle Network™ is ... a grassroots and entirely nonprofit movement of people who are giving (and getting) stuff for free in their own towns. It's all about reuse and keeping good stuff out of landfills.

I don't know of anyone who would dump their "fresh" eggs into a landfill, and if it's not an item that would, potentially, be clogging up a landfill, then it's not really a "freecyclable" item, is it?

There was another one today asking for people's leftover garden produce.

It is a little annoying to have these sorts of requests clogging up my inbox. Often, I just delete the wanted requests without even reading them, because too often, they are for things like: "car that would pass inspection", "CLEAN refrigerator in good condition", "working washer and dryer." Seriously? Is it okay to make these qualifiers? I mean, I understand that people don't want junk, but if I have these things, and they are in "good working order" why in the hell would I give them away?

I get especially irritated with those who have that undertone of entitlement. "I need a television ...." Well, first off, you don't NEED a television. Or, "I need a dryer in good working order, because mine just failed and I have five kids." And that's my problem because ...? I want to ask people who post wanteds like that. Line drying clothes, even five children's worth of clothes, was good enough for my grandma, it's good enough for me, what makes "you" so damned special? No one NEEDS televisions and dryers. There are other options. Further, there are enough OFFERS of televisions and dryers that people should never have to request them. If they were just patient, there would be one offered, and the fact that they ask for "in good working condition" or "television with 32-inch screen" makes me bristle.

Several years ago, I had a usable, but in need of some sprucing, crib that someone had given me to give to my daughter when she was pregnant. My daughter was gifted a new crib, and so I Freecycled™ the one I had been given for her. I always fully disclose the condition of the item, and this was no exception. After the freecycler picked up the crib and got home with it, I received a really nasty note from the woman who declared that what I had given her was not fit for anything but a landfill and that she had wasted her time coming to get it. I was horribly offended, because in my opinion that crib was usable, and no, it was not new, and yes, it needed a new coat of paint. She chose to ignore the "needs work" part of my post and instead berate me for "giving" her an item she felt was substandard. There's some saying about gift horses and mouths.

I haven't decided if I'm more annoyed with the entitlement sorts of requests or with the people who will give those people the items they've requested. It's a toss-up as to which one annoys me more, because the people who give those people the stuff they want are fueling those outrageous requests. I mean, when someone posts a "wanted" for a "clean and in good condition refrigerator", why on earth should they ever expect to get it? If I were going to freecycle a fridge (which I hope I can do someday ... soon ... when I have a cold closet to replace it :) that I had planned to throw away, I damn sure wouldn't clean it first! If I have a pair of badly torn panties that I intend to toss in the garbage, I'm not going to run them through the washer, first. That's silly, and it's a waste of my time and energy (I know, not the best analogy, because I wouldn't freecyle the panties, but still ... you get the point, right? I was planning to throw it away). If I'm GIVING it to a person who doesn't have one, the very least she could do for this FREE, high-end appliance is accept it 'AS IS.' If I'm going to expend all of that time and energy to make it all purty and sparkly, I wouldn't give it away ... I'd sell it.

I know, that sounds disgusting, doesn't it? And my fridge kind of is ... disgusting, but my point is that if one is asking to be given an item that is ordinarily fairly expensive, one should be willing to expend a little effort, as well, and expecting that the receiver would be willing to clean the fridge is not too much, in my opinion. Just FYI, if I needed a fridge and someone offered to GIVE me one, as long as it works, I'd clean out the science experiment. Bleach is a wonderful thing, and I'm not too proud to use it, which if I'm asking someone to give me his fridge, I have no business being ... too proud, I mean.

The worst ones are the ones where people post a wanted, often something really outrageous (WANTED: Women's work slacks, size 12, in good condition) and then punctuate their request with: "but I don't have a car, and so you'll have to deliver it." Seriously? I should give you my old clothes, AND I should deliver them to you?

Freecycle™ rules don't prohibit people from asking for such things, but, perhaps, it should. If the point of the group is to keep things out of landfills, why should we be tolerating people who make such outrageous requests and demands on the rest of us?

But back to the WANTED: Fresh Eggs.


I have eleven birds that provide eggs for my family. Not once, even now when we have seven dozen eggs in our refrigerator, have I EVER considered dumping any of those eggs into the garbage. Not once.

If Freecycle™ is about keeping things out of landfills, and not as a charity service, then what part of asking for fresh eggs or produce from my garden does not violate the spirit of the group?

All of that aside, however, it's not the WANTEDs or the OFFERs that are most concerning. What worries me the most is that if we were to use Freecycle™ as a sort of Barometer for gauging the health of our economy, and if people on Freecycle™ are requesting outrageous things that they should be able to afford to buy (remember, Freecycle™ is not a place to get free stuff, and while that's a nice side effect, the purpose is to keep stuff out of landfills), like eggs and fresh produce, what's that say about our economy?

As irritating as it is to read Wanteds for eggs, it's more worrisome to note that there are people out there who need someone to give them eggs because they can't afford them, and feel like Freecycle™ is an appropriate place to request such an item.


  1. Entitlement. Huge - HUGE pet peeve of mine.

    I don't participate in community charity programs for that very reason. Things like giving away boxes of food or back-to-school bags. The majority of people who show up to get their free stuff arrive in cars MUCH nicer and newer (not hard to do) than mine. Then they complain because they don't like plain oatmeal or pink book covers.

    I give to the TRULY needy. They usually don't ask for help. When I see a friend or neighbor who I know is struggling, I give them food or what ever.

    People with their hands out usually make a whole lot more than I do (not difficult).

    The economy is very scary. What's scarier is the amount of people who think that what is mine should be theirs.

  2. It is just because of requests like you mentioned that I gave up on Freecycle. And responses I've read on Craigslist. Just what do you want for free?

    When I worked with Donated Foods in the early 70's, before Food Stamps people were given FOOD, and my job was to provide recipes using them. Donated Foods were surplus foods thru gov't programs - flour, sugar, PB, elbow macaroni, butter, raisins, rice were staples.
    We also taught people how to garden and got stores & companies to donate seeds & peat pots.

    I don't know the real reason for stopping Donated Foods but it probably had something to do with empowering people, allowing them to make their own choices. At least Donated Foods weren't junk.

    The sense of entitlement also goes hand in hand, in my opinion, with not allowing kids to lose. Losing builds character, makes you work harder, hopefully will help you learn from your mistakes. Being entitled makes you believe you can have anything at any time, whether you can afford it or not. Again, in my opinion, this was part of the problem with so many getting in over their heads with mortgages.

  3. I stopped looking through Freecycle for the same reason. Folks were asking for laptop computers and good guitars, along with the working cars, power tools, and road-legal trailers. Sometimes I'd notice the same person putting in several big requests.
    I think what started as a good idea (Freecycle) went afoul.

  4. The entitlement topic gave me a case of gutter mouth, so I erased my comment. My apologies.

  5. Leigh - I wish you hadn't, because you made some very valid points in your comment about what people perceive to be their "rights" ... and it was wicked funny! In fact, both Deus Ex Machina and I were laughing - out loud! Just FYI, I'm not offended by "gutter mouth." It would be horribly hypocritical of me to be so. I was a soldier, afterall, and could make a sailor blush :).

  6. Yup. This is why I only read Freecycle when I've got stuff to give away. (And the only thing I've ever asked for is moving boxes!)

    I've got great stories about my food dehydrator being able to cure cancer and my small TV and a dog named Cinco.

    Freecycle IS good for great blog fodder!

  7. I have a "friend" that lives in town and she participates in Freecycle and whenever I'm bored and browse through FC, I see her popping up just about every 10th request or offer. She and her hubs make wayyy more money, they have only 1 child, nice cars, live in a beautiful house in town and yet she is always requesting high end items. It got so that I can't stand to go to FC anymore because I come away bitchin' about her and her requests.

    Oh, and she has been trying to start up a children's consignment shop so she is always requesting children's clothing/items so she can turn around and SELL them! Don't get me started...

  8. It's nice to see that it's not just me being "intolerant" :).

    And Jenny, re: your friend requesting kids clothes - I think that's just a shame given the sheer volume of children's clothes that are offered up here. I'm sure it's similar where you are. I could totally outfit a child, either gender, from birth to three years just with clothes I find on Freecycle - and never have to post one Wanted. It goes back to the comment I was making on patience. Almost anything that's ever been requested has usually been offered (even the high end stuff - including a whole set of kitchen cabinets that someone offered ;)), if people would just be patient.