Waste not, want more

No variations on a theme.

The Trials of Usedvictoria

I’ve blogged a couple of times about the joys of Freecycle (like here and here). There are of course trials as well. Not shockingly, Usedvictoria isn’t much different, except that there’s money involved.

I decided to peddle my 35mm slr camera (given with much love by my mother, sold to her by a local rip-off artist) after buying a digital slr in Kuala Lumpur.

Petronas Towers, KL

Abandoned, the camera was sent home without me, along with some presents for family. It arrived about a month after my return, or 2 and a half months after being sent to Canada. Maybe customs found something of interest, like cheap presents, but I digress.

Not long after moving to Victoria, I posted the old camera on usedvictoria. It has been there for about 2.5 years. For a year and a half I got no bites on usedvictoria. Hint to Rose: your price is too high, stupid. But there are some hardcore types on usedvictoria. As soon as I lowered the price someone who had been creeping on it emailed me and asked me if I would take $20 less. I said no, I could only go $10 less and buyer #1 faded into the woodwork.

I heard from buyer #2 in May of this year. He emailed asking for camera details. I responded. He made an offer. The type of offer that some of my more free-spirited friends would jump on, full of whimsy and trips to far-away lands. Me, I was mildly creeped out. He offered to trade the camera for a stay in a cabin/bunkhouse on his property (bad horror movie, anyone?) or some of his art, which he displays weekly at Salt Spring Island’s world famous farmers market. The cabin appealed to my whimsy, but only momentarily. I expressed interest in the art. I had visions of wee little paintings that I could use in some capacity in the new home. Granted, the value of the camera was not going to = much art. We agreed that I would bring the camera to the island in August, when I was scheduled to visit.

Now, being me, though I was excited by the devil-may-care nature of this arrangement, which I worked hard to map out to the degree possible, I was also very  nervous. What if I did not like the work (guilt)? Must I talk to him and tell him the trade wasn’t a go (awkwardness, confrontation, more guilt)? Could I walk away without saying a word (dishonesty, cowardice, even more guilt)? I batted this around in my brain for months. I googled him in the hopes of an image or two of his work, but to no avail. Such is my life.

In August, I went to Salt Spring. For some reason, this excursion is never as relaxing as I think it will be – especially not on the Saturday when I try to go to the market, get hungry, lose my compatriots, and wander around in crowds short, blind and lonely, unable to find anything I need. A perfect state of bliss: fright. I had emailed the artist/buyer #2 in advance of the trip. He told me to look for the table with carved trees growing out of rocks. Sigh.

I found him and his table. My camera safely and innocuously tucked in my bag. “No camera trader here, nope.” The trees were in fact beautiful, though not necessarily the sort of item I would have spent cold hard cash on. I liked them and thought they would make a great “conversation piece” (I vacillate between attraction to and repulsion with this phrase) as well as being aesthetically pleasing (can you tell I talk about art a lot? Me so sophisticated).

I found other hypothetical people who live in my house (eventually) and asked them if they liked the work. I received a short and definite “no”. That question resolved, I moved on to “what do I do now”? I did the only mature thing I could think of: I ran to the car and asked that we never speak about this again. TALLY – Catholic Guilt: 1. Rose: -2.

Buyer #3. I received a cryptic email on Monday. It asked condition, age and availability before 3 that day in one big long run on sentence. As I reread it I realize, it wasn’t all that cryptic, but for some reason, strangers emailing me in unpunctuated lower-case questions freaks me out. It sounds curt, grumpy and somehow disturbing. Lest you should think I am scared of everything, I am in fact usually quite  nonchalant about this sort of thing. But for some reason this time I had a bad feeling. I was the only one home. I was painting. It was very sudden and the email address included the words “dance” and “partay”. I am a pillar of rationality.

Anyway, we emailed back and forth a couple of times and arranged for Partay to come at 3:30. I found the camera and put it by the door. I forwarded someone the email thread in case I disappeared or died. I then continued with my painting. At 3:20, I started to get ready, depainting myself and waiting for the buzzer phone to ring. At 3:30 I realized that I had unplugged the buzzer for Paint-o-Mania December 2010. I ran downstairs with the camera and headed outside (to defend myself against any raid-the-building-use-of-force, which makes perfect sense, I must say). I waited for about 10 minutes and headed upstairs thinking that I had missed Partay. Minutes later, someone knocked at the door. I looked out the peephole fearful. Young man, alone. Hmm. I opened the door and he said, “there’s a mother and son downstairs talking about a camera. The buzzer’s not working, or something.” I thanked him (he seemed annoyed) and headed down with the camera.

I saw the mother and son and all my anxiety disappeared. They looked relieved to see me coming down holding camera-like things after being unable to get a hold of me. Partay was about 14, accompanied by his mother. They were kind, soft-spoken, and unassuming (i.e. I LOVED them and wanted to invite them in for cake, which I didn’t have. I restrained myself) The boy looked over the camera. He said he needed it for photography (heart melt). He was happy to see it was in good shape (you bet, I took care of that bad boy except for abandoning it to the Pacific Ocean for 3 months). He handed me the money and I skipped happily though somewhat shamefacedly (for assuming the worst) home. My bad feelings are often misguided. This was the “right buyer”.


December 22, 2010 - Posted by | Brackets, Consumption, Doing it the hard way, Irritated, Photography | ,


  1. And so it goes! I remember that camera of yours. Ah, nostalgia. I have a total love/hate relationship with UsedVictoria. I guess I love making money off of crap I don’t need anymore, but I HATE the amount of time and negotiation involved in every little thing. And everyone wants the most super of super deals! Encouraging to know that people still bite on things that have been posted for over a year. Who knew?

    Comment by Dana | December 22, 2010 | Reply

  2. I feel I just lived a whole story…. very happy all went well, and it went to a GOOD home. Makes for happy memories and no guilt.

    Comment by Katie Chipman | December 22, 2010 | Reply

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