FREE: A Great Four Letter Word

FREE.  It’s one of my all time favorite words.  I’m not the only one with the gene that can turn “free” into “free for all”.   FREE is also a favorite of Craig’s List users. It doesn’t matter what is being offered, the fact that the item is free makes it greatly coveted.

I base much of this conclusion on the responses I have received when I list things on the “Free Stuff” section of Craig’s List. (Other sources for this conclusion include my own brand of genius (also known as Julia’s Math). I feel it my calling to share this genius with others; it’s a gift, and it would be so selfish not to share.) When we purchased our home, it was filled with, ahem, lovely (read: disgusting) tan/beige/neutral/rental colored carpeting.  We both prefer hardwood floors, and so as soon as we were able (as soon as my wonderful, most generous Grandpa came to visit), we had the wall to wall carpeting ripped up and replaced with real wood. As an added bonus, the slightly musty odor that wafted around our house also disappeared! (SHUDDER. Carpet is GROSS!).  While my Grandpa was WONDERFULLY generous, we were on a budget. (Also, we are people who LOVE a deal!) Thankfully, we found a great contractor who was VERY reasonable with price, and great with service.  One of the reasons that the price was so discounted was because we had to do some of the work.  The job of hauling off the ripped up carpet, tacks, and padding wasn’t included in our great deal.   (This seemed like an easy thing to do. I figured we have a small house; surely the amount of carpet won’t be very big—one pickup truck load at best.  Also, when I heard ‘old carpet’, I did not figure in the padding and the tack strips…) Long story short, I came home from work to a rather large (way more than one pickup truck load) mountain of stinky, dirty, musty carpet covering all of the two car carport. The “good” news was the carpet was completely ready to be reinstalled, should one wish, because it still had the padding attached by the tack strips.  The bad news was my husband wasn’t yet committed to “Team Removal”. In fact, he had gone on the record expressing his concern for huge a large responsibility.  However, as I previously stated, I am all about the Good Deal and the Discounts.  Clearly, I wasn’t going to let a little carpet stand in the way of one.  As I walked into the house (electing to walk around the mountain of carpet instead of scaling it), he reminded me of his feelings. He then politely inquired (Captain Smirk) how I was going to remove all that carpet from the carport (he was all I TOLD YOU SO). Pftw. Didn’t he know who he was talking to? I clearly had the answer (I usually do. I just wish he would ask for guidance more so I could dispense more answers). I told him as much—that I had it covered. His response was something along the lines of ‘this is gonna be interesting and I definitely need a front row seat’. I placed the following ad on Craig’s List “Old Stinky Carpet. Beige/Light Brown/Rental Color complete with tacks and padding. Winner must take all.” In less than twenty minutes, I had four emails. Four different people wanted my old nasty carpet, I assume, for the sole reason that it was free.  The lucky family came by and loaded it up, thrilled with their prize. They did mention that they didn’t need all of the carpet, but I reminded them of my ‘Winner Take All’ clause, and assured them I had several other folks who would gladly take it all. Once reminded, they loaded their stinky, new-to-them carpet into a trailer and drove off into the sunset.

Craig’s List came to my rescue again by answering the question “What does one do with a bunch of six inch cement blocks?!” The previous owners of our house had a huge garden in the back yard that they lined with a perimeter of six inch concrete blocks. The blocks were an effort to stop erosion. (WTF? How long did they plan on living? Doesn’t erosion take millions of years?! )  My husband LOVES our yard, it is the main reasons we choose the house we did (that and given our price range and the location, it was one of four choices. It was also the only choice that didn’t have the garage converted into a bedroom. No matter how nicely such a remodel was done, the room still smells of gasoline and new tires.) One of ‘life’s simple pleasures’ for my husband is walking around barefoot on gorgeous, green grass.  Because one of my life goals is to make my husband happy (Thomas, I swear it is!), the blocks had to go.  One bright, sunny Saturday we headed out back, armed with shovels, to rid the yard of the blocks.  Four long, dirty, sweaty hours later, the blocks were out of the yard and stacked up. Now what? I overruled my husband’s idea of keeping the blocks around because ‘they are expensive and we might need them someday’ (I suspect it was more of his irrational hatred of throwing anything away than the actual value or potential future use of the blocks). Craig’s List to the rescue! Those blocks must have been valuable because within ten minutes, I had three replies to my posting.  A nice man showed up (with an antique truck. The truck doesn’t have anything to do with the story, it was just weird), loaded his blocks, and left. This past weekend, we were doing some work in the yard to get ready for a new swing set (swing sets are not listed in the Free Section on Craig’s List. I keep checking though, because you just never know.), and found twenty more stupid cement blocks.  No hesitation this time, we posted to Craig’s List immediately. So quickly, in fact, that we didn’t’ bother to dig them out of the ground!  And someone still came and got them!

Craig’s List is the ultimate proof that someone’s trash is another’s treasure.  The free section combines a window into human behavior AND a way to get rid of old, unwanted, stupid shit. A win-win!! Oh, and if any of my loyal readers (Mom and Dad) see a free swing set, please let me know!


  1. Jenny Lawler Brown says:

    I couldn’t agree more.. people LOVE free stuff, no matter what it is. My first job out of college was working for the Missouri State Lottery (powerball, scratchers, etc.) and we gave away so much swag, it was unbelieveable. People would come out of the woodwork for free XL T-shirts, koozies, pencils, postcards..anything with a MOLOTT logo!

    We’ve also had a few Craigslist experiences. Several years ago, an ice storm took down my parents old aluminum porch roof. My mom put an ad on Craigslist “Yum Yum Aluminum” for someone to come get the giant mess the ice had caused. When she got home that evening, not only had they taken the aluminum, but they also took the screens (mostly broken), the doors (with shattered and broken glass) and every trace of their screened in porch. All because it was free!


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