I’ve had a Craigslist ad for my GT Karakoram posted for a few weeks and I’ve dropped the price a couple of times to try and attract a buyer. The bike came to me direct from GT in October 2014 and looks almost new, with perhaps fewer than 300 miles on it.
On Friday night I’m at home watching some rubbish on the tube when I get an email from a guy interested in the bike.
We arrange to meet at the Walmart Super-Center in Sturgeon Bay the following afternoon. He’ll be driving up from Green Bay, about a two hour round trip, and I’m driving south from Egg Harbor to meet with him, about a fifty minute round trip.
Unlike most of the responses I get from CL people, he’s made all the right noises and appears to function with some degree of lucidity, so I avoid insulting him with the usual pre-screening questions I use for handling Craigslist responders:
‘Would you like me to send some money to Nigeria for you?
‘Will you be paying in cash or travelers checks?’
We set the time for 4pm and I tell him we should meet opposite the Garden Center in the main parking lot, as I know that nobody parks down by the Garden Center in the off-season.
It’s Friday night, I’m drinking Earl Grey tea and eating a Cadbury’s chocolate bar and flicking through thirteen channels of sh*t on the TV and life is good. It’s all falling into place.
In between the Keyes and Grey show and the Monday Night Locker Room, I’m surfing through the dross when I happen upon a movie on LMNHD - The Craigslist Killer.
What the heck, why not. I don’t generally entertain this kind of thing but it seemed pertinent at some subliminal level. I never watch anything live as I can’t deal with the commercial interruptions so I decide to record it and perhaps watch it tomorrow, Saturday. All the while there’s something flickering in the back of my mind, like one of those split cell moments, but I can’t quite put my finger on the cause so I brush it off and set the DVR to record.
At 3:50 pm on Saturday I pull into the empty section of the parking lot at Walmart, directly opposite the Garden Center. There are no other cars around.
I open the trunk, remove the bike, pop on the front wheel and lean it against the back of the car so it’s fully visible.
Fifteen minutes later I’m starting to wonder where he is, so I get out of the car and begin riding the bike around the parking lot, thinking that if he’s out there, somewhere, he’ll see me. I’m anxious to get this deal done and the money re-invested. It’s going towards a new Salsa Fargo and the cash will help alleviate some of the guilt I have from making two large cycling purchases less than a month apart. My Bad.
As I’m tooling around on the bike my phone buzzes and it’s a text from him saying: ‘I’m waiting outside Walmart, where are you?’.
I finally get him down to the Garden Center with the aid of some tricky directions - drive down the front of the building, follow the big arrow and the big sign where it says ‘Garden Center’.
I see his car approach and I notice there are two guys inside and that the larger of the two, who happens to be driving, can barely see over the top of the steering wheel. Either they’re both short or someone took the car seats out. It’s a purple Scion with one green door and a nasty rust problem, so I reserve judgement on the seat situation.
The car had seats. The shorter guy gets out first and I figure he’s maybe 5′ tall in his stocking feet, perhaps an inch more. Now bear in mind I’m 6′ 4″ and I’m selling an XL framed bike. So he comes ambling over with his pants hanging at half mast and sporting a nonplussed expression on his face, then without saying anything he begins to look around the bike.
He’s already got me on the offensive and he hasn’t spoken a word yet. As I await some utterance, some insightful commentary on the geometry of the Triple-Triangle frame, or the low temperature damping capacity of the 100mm travel SR Suntour XCO-MLO fork with mechanical lockout, my mind wanders to a scene from the Antique Roadshow where the Tweed-suited antique expert with the monocle is staring intently at some porcelain cat figurine whilst the cat’s owner sits looking on; feigning patience, trying to hide from her face the fact that the repo man is hauling off her trailer as we speak and everything hinges on the auction value of that fucking cat….
….when he says:
“Wow, dude, it looks brand new, cool”
Let’s be clear. I’m not a dude, never have been a dude, never will be a dude.
I’m already irritated with the little prick for being late, now he’s pushing more of the wrong buttons. So I bark at him rather sardonically: “It’s quite big, it’s not for you, is it?”
“No, it’s for my friend in the car, I’m the expert so I’m checking it out for him”.
So this one’s the expert. I can’t help but wonder what the other one is going to contribute to the process, in fact I can barely wait to see.
So then his buddy comes over, he’s maybe 5′ 5″ tall. He’s wearing a denim jacket with torn-off sleeves and looks like the younger guy from Deliverance. He doesn’t speak and I say nothing. I move from one foot to the other all the while wondering who will go for their banjo first, when suddenly he mumbles something under his breath, gets on the bike and begins to awkwardly ride it around the parking lot. As I’m watching him I know what’s coming next. He rolls back towards us, hits the brakes, tries to put his feet down and crushes his nuts on the top tube. He coughs and a gob of chewing tobacco hits the pavement two feet in front of me.
Speaking in a higher pitched voice than previous, he declares: “I think it’s too big for me”.
Really? Go figure, Sherlock.
So his friend huffs and puffs and mutters something incoherent and starts walking back towards the car. I ask the guy whose eyes are still watering “Didn’t you see that the frame was an XL, it was clearly stated in both the ad title and in the description?”.
“No”, he replies.
I have a copy of the ad printed and I motion towards the bold title where it says “GT Karakoram - Size XL”.
He looks at me vacantly then looks around to see where his friend went. I figure letters and that whole alphabet thing just ain’t where he’s at.
“So you came all this way to look at a bike and you didn’t know what size it was?”
“I guess”, he says to me nonchalantly, as if it’s to be expected.
As I’m driving back north I couldn’t shake off the feeling that these two muffins were just a couple of kids who meant no harm but didn’t have a brain between the pair of them.
Who the hell goes off to buy a bike without knowing how big it is…it’s the second piece of information one looks for after seeing the make/model of the bike, usually, isn’t it?
Sadly, it’s not their fault. Life dealt them a hand and they’re probably doing with it the best that they can. I’m not talking about being smart, or otherwise, I’m talking about the simple fact that 70% of who and what we are now and what we’ll probably become, is a function of our early environment; hence some of us just never really stood a chance.
Anyway, I’m back at home now and psyching myself up to watch The Craigslist Killer. It will take on an added dimension I’m sure of it. I’m quite certain the plot will involve someone responding to an ad and not being seen again. I’m just surprised this isn’t reported in the news as pretty much a daily occurrence. In fact it amazes me how half the people ever make it back home from one of these meetings.
I’m one of the most placid and equable people you could ever hope to meet, yet I almost scored a two’fer today from my first Craigslist ad in weeks.
Ah well, it will soon be spring and the spirits will lift… songbirds singing, flowers blooming and all that other crap.