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Pity Discount

by Stacy of "Parent Unplugged"
Photo by: Shutterstock

I love Craigslist. I’ve sold lots of things over the years: from baby clothes to unused toys to crystal vases to a Honda SUV, I’ve run the gamut with sales prices. I’ve even used it to give away free stuff in the alley, like moving boxes and furniture. I’ve also bought lots of things on Craigslist. Training wheels and patio furniture, chairs and bed frames; it’s all the same. The idea of re-using items instead of buying new at outrageous prices, or trashing STUFF to go sit forever in some landfill, just makes so much sense. Couple that with the thrill of negotiating, my favorite pastime, and Craigslist is a dream come true!

Yesterday, I was chasing down faux Tiffany lamps. We recently painted our living room, and the result was a gorgeous hue of rich green that contrasted beautifully with the dark woodwork, but reduced the lighting to dungeon status. I emailed back and forth with a woman in the city over a set of Tiffany-inspired lamps. I inquired about the height, the working order, and the brightness of the light output. We did not talk about price, but I knew I wanted to buy the lamps and was prepared to pay the full list price of $50 apiece. As always, I would still be ready to bargain.

We arranged a time for me to come to her home, and I told her I’d have my kid, to prepare her for a child in her house. I pulled up to this huge Victorian home in my dirty ’98 Camry, toting a four year-old clad in an unzipped coat without hat and mittens, despite the fact that it was windy and fifteen degrees outside with spitting snow. Although I was at least ten minutes late, she met me at the front door and we were welcomed inside.

We worked our way upstairs to the room where the lamps were located, and she flipped on the bulbs. “I love them!” I gushed, “Now is that $50 for both lamps, or $50 apiece?”

“Oh, it is $50 for both…” she stammered uncomfortably, avoiding eye contact, “and I’ll be happy to give them to you for forty.”

Forty? I was shocked! I’d never had anyone so quickly offer a discount, unless there was an obvious deformity in the item or urgency to unload the merchandise, which didn’t seem like the case here.

“I’ll take them,” I gushed, and counted out $40 in ones, pulled from a roll of cash in my coat pocket.

As we worked our way down the stairs with the lamps, I glanced at my 4-year-old with strawberry yogurt crusted on her mouth and her shoes on the wrong feet. I then looked down at the painting pants I hadn’t bothered to change out of since yesterday, and brushed my cheek against the Village Discount H&M winter coat with a screwed up zipper that I purchased three winters ago for $6. Gazing out at my car, I studied the gashes in the paint on the back bumper, and subconsciously noted that by the time another fifty parallel parks have been executed, the entire bumper would be void of any color at all.

By the time I’d made two trips to the car with my toddler in tow and lamps in hand, I realized that I had gotten a pity discount. I laughed out loud at the thought of the sight of my daughter and I pulling up to this big house loaded with room after room of furniture and antiques, and I lovingly patted the roll of bills I’d saved because of our appearance, still occupying my coat pocket.

For one sick moment, I thought about working this new scruffy getup angle while Craigslist shopping from here on out, and then laughed again at the ridiculousness of the whole situation. My stained-glass lamps look amazing in the newly decorated living room, and no one ever has to know about my pity discount. Although, I have a feeling this funny story will somehow make its way out…

Stacy lives in Chicago with her partner, Katie, and their two daughters. She writes about any and everything, but focuses on parenting issues, on her blog, Parent Unplugged.

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