COLM O'REGAN: I get stood up when selling second-hand stuff online

My dating days are long behind me so I don’t get many opportunities to be stood up. Except in one area: Selling second-hand stuff online, writes Colm O’Regan

I got stood up this week by an adverts.ie buyer. I was gutted. I had practically been waiting for them in the hall with the sander. (That is not some sort of niche kink. All visitors don’t get a rub of the sander. I was selling a sander.)

And then the message came. “Sorry withdrawing my offer”. How DARE he string me along? I was looking forward to that €15 and the one or two cubic feet of space that would be freed up. Well, for your information “baggytrousers15” (not his real pseudonym) I was messaging someone else all along and they emptied the space in my heart.

When you’re in a small house with small children, you crave every square inch of space. We keep dreaming of a secret room that we’ve been forgetting. Someone wrote into Dermot Bannon’s architectural agony aunt page in a newspaper last year wondering what to do with space. The headline was “Make the most of the unused rooms in your house by opening them up to the light” or words to that effect. It’s always opening it up to the light with Dermot. I’d like to think there was a mediaeval Dermot Bannon who kept advising people to “close it in, keep out the wind and the arrows, subdivide rooms or ye’ll be freezing.”

But in the absence of an unused room, there is adverts.ie (Note, other sites are available. Adverts.ie and others like it have created unusual little pinpricks of happiness in my life. In the continuous War On Stuff we are deleveraging bad assets from our house like a bank exiting the Irish market. But our customers are no vultures. There is a particular sort of joy in watching your unwanted object being passed into the hands of someone who is delighted to see it. I have sent out the door “A broken watch”, “A box of stuff” and “A battered chair” in recent weeks and the glee with which they were received made me actually wonder if indeed there was cash in the attic. But it’s great to see these rejected objects enjoy a new life with someone who cares, like a dog who actually did go to a farm.

The flow of objects out the door this week has been disrupted by the snow but the thaw will open up trade again soon. I could write about the snow this week but given that I practically caused it by, a fortnight ago, labelling decades of our snow events ‘disappointing’, I think it best to keep my piehole shut on that topic.

Buying from strangers brings its own experiences, especially baby stuff. Before we had babies and were assembling our warchest for their arrival, it allowed me a preview into the chaos of a house with small children. I would knock at the door all oblivious and child-free and expect perhaps a bit swap-shop repartee with the people inside. Instead I was shocked at their haunted and harassed looks, the state of the place, and then a pair of toddlers would emerge like uncontacted tribespeople, short only a bow and poison arrows and a monkey-paw fetish tied around their necks. They would yowl something in their native tongue, the parents would press the object into my hand, take my cash and use it to pay for pizza or gin. Now the shoe is on the other foot. People call to our bombsite, picking up “11 metres of electrical cable” or “Four Penneys blankets, one with a stain”, take one look at the interior and scarper back to their child-free or post-child lives.

But they don’t know how happy I am. Happy, after another successful date with a stranger.


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