Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The Craig's List Lifestyle

These days, I spend about 4 hours each weekday on work, 8 sleeping, and the other 12 on my version of fun. Making high impact / low cost improvements to my apartment is getting fun time every day.

Design Within Reach had a big red SALE sign out front and lots of air conditioning so obviously I needed to go inside and look at the beds. We've been talking about getting a new bed frame for a few months, ideally one with storage underneath. So when I saw the $4,500 bed frame pictured above, I started having a rather impassioned argument with my responsible self and my impulsive self. This primary emotion was despair. Here is the perfect bed frame but spending that kind of money on anything except taxes is just not me. I have spent much more on a piece of furniture for a client but when it comes to my personal money, I'm all about Yankee ingenuity.

Enter Craig's List. Does it save money? Yes! Is it worth it? Always, if you have the time and enjoy adventure.

Several hours were spent casually looking through bed frame listings. Looking at a photos of a disassembled bed with 4 large drawers but no price, I could see that it would look similar to my dream bed frame when put together. A few emails later, the owner offered it to me for free if I would pick it up but I offered him some money anyway.

The long weekend seemed the perfect time to get it from Brooklyn but I couldn't book a pick-up since Zip car was out of trucks. I reserved a truck for Tuesday after work and a friend offered to help me out. Everything was perfect. I was going to accomplish something awesome before the middle of the week!

About half an hour before meeting up, it turned out that my Zipcard wasn't where I remembered or in any of the other likely places.  Being extremely organized, the idea of loosing the card took a few minutes to finally accept. Next was a call to the garage to see if I could get into the truck. They gave me the number for Zipcar. The person at the other end said if he heard from me an hour earlier that I could have picked up a new card from the main office but since it was after 5pm nothing could be worked out until morning. Oh-- except that he could cancel my reservation and "as a courtesy" wave charges related to canceling within an hour of my reservation.

After more thwarted efforts to find a pick-up truck, my friend made a great suggestion: CC Rentals.  They are open 24/7 and rent cargo vans for under $100/day.  Hurray for smart friends! About 45 minutes later than expected, we pulled up onto too-hip-to-shower Bedford Avenue in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.  Most of the places I lived and worked from 1997 - 2000 were within a 10 block radius of this apartment.  Actually, my friend Marni used to live on the 2nd floor of the building. Although the neighborhood is more chic and presumably safer, the building was just as frightening as it was a decade ago.

This photo gives you a general sense of the style of the apartment.  I felt a bit better knowing that the bed frame had been in the building for a short period of time since it was a gift from a loft-living friend of the guy in a Grateful Dead tie dye who opened the door.  This was my guy.

He opened the door after we pressed the one good buzzer next to several wires sticking out of holes where, presumably, other buzzers once lived in peace and harmony. After a rather startled hello he looked beyond us to a woman on the stoop. I imagined her to be a Dutch Cyndi Lauper impersonator (in her She's So Unusual period).

"Are you staying tonight?" He asked her.
"We need to talk about that"
He turned his attentions back to us and then to the floor of the hallway. "There was a paint bucket here." 
The door has no closer so it needs to be propped open from the base. In spite of all the garbage in the hallway, there is no wooden shim. This isn't the kind of place where people would spend money on a plastic door opener. I reach for a folding table.
"That won't hold it." Our host seems extremely put out.

Once inside the apartment, there is a guy on a computer and another guy on a couch texting. I say hi and no one says hi back. It felt like greeting people when entering a public bus.

"Are you ready? My friend rearranged my living room while I was out of town this weekend so the bed is under here" He took off a heavy grandma curtain from a pile of items against a back wall. We needed to move a chair that looked like an orange Muppet in bad need of a shampoo. I could see a few of the drawers. The big pieces were behind a folded Stairmaster and under the game Mousetrap. 

"Do you like the living room better now?"
"I hate it. I don't know what possessed him to do it. Why would that be a good idea?"

"I need to give you a lot of money right now." A short woman of Indian decent told our host. I didn't even see her come in the room.

Our host explained "She's going to the airport so I need to take care of this." It didn't really explain anything.

A man with zero body fat wearing only a towel exited what must have been the bathroom and disappeared through another door. The passionate texter made a sandwich of cheese and wonderbread. He watched us move the pieces of the bed frame out of the apartment. 

Once money changed hands and the short woman was on her way to the airport, it was Cyndi's turn.

"Were you on top or bottom?"
"That's $35 a night."

We think he was operating an underground youth hostel. $35 for a bunk bed? Is it more for the top bunk? This was something I'd heard about but never seen before.

Getting the bed frame into the apartment was blissfully uneventful. Including a the van rental, thank you pizza, and hardware for one of the drawers the bed frame cost less than 5% of the one I saw a few weeks ago. Thank you, Craig's List!

Job applications: 2
Networking events: 0
New contacts: 0

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