Craigslist Strangers

Thirty-three posts. That’s what it took. With the help of Craigslist, two garage sales, and five van loads of boxes donated to church, my mom and her husband Jack’s downsize to a nearby retirement community was complete. Many strangers came and went. All were treated with caution and care. And each had a story to share.


The plaid couches and kitchen table were the first to be sold, for a sunroom in a new home. There was no sun, but rain on pick-up day along with a woman’s sad story to match the gray skies. As the storm ensued, Monique shared her news, “I was just diagnosed with breast cancer — today.” Still in shock and seemingly numb, she must have wondered if she would even be around to enjoy the furniture she’d just purchased. After the load-up we exchanged hugs, and I told her I would pray. Not all strangers on Craigslist were bad, it was confirmed.


Many others came and went — a pastor, couples, families. One young man in a hurry bought an office chair without even bothering to sit in it — “hello,” handed me money, grabbed the chair, gone. Others lingered, including a family buying a wheelchair for their mother. Her frail body sank into the deep cushion as they discussed how it would be perfect for the great grandchildren’s soccer games where the terrain was too unsteady for walking. I passed along a restaurant recommendation, and they took me up on it. Later my cell phone blew up with photos of their family dining together at Daddy Jack’s. I smiled as I wondered why these Craigslist stories don’t make it into the news.


One by one, emails from interested buyers came in, and my posts dwindled to just a few. Some items went fast; others took time and better marketing. An old coffee table with built-in lamp needed a boost, so “old” became “vintage” — and “sold” was the result. Tired maple table lamps in the shape of genie lamps were “unique,” and the very last item to be sold. Why not have fun with it? I updated the post, “If you rub them, maybe a genie will appear?” I received an email within an hour. Should I be pursuing a career in marketing?


Jack’s workshop was the most challenging to sell and also the most treasured. Tinkering around, fixing, and building things were his passion. This was his favorite place and a big part of his identity before his recent passing after their move. After months, Patience arrived at the door. That was really his name. Slowly opening drawers to examine the tools, he shared his story, “I’m from Zimbabwe and in trucking. I’m starting a new business.” The workshop was exactly what he needed.


A few days later, Patience arrived with a friend and a truck to complete the transaction. Loading it was bittersweet as I wondered, “How do you fit a lifetime of passion into a 10-ft. U-Haul?” Only with a lot of tears, I learned. As the truck pulled away, my mom and I stood arm in arm, as our tears did indeed flow.


The next chapter now begins for my mom with a little less stuff, a new home, and friends to make beyond those responding to Craigslist. No more postings will be necessary, but prayers will continue for the strangers I met along the way.

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2 Responses

  1. julie
    Great insight.
    • Julie Osborne
      Thanks for the feedback, Julie.

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