Integrity for sale on Craigslist?

In our house “spring cleaning” doesn’t seem to cut it for clearing the clutter.  It’s like a wild fungus that recreates it’s self four times over every time items get hauled away to be donated.  More frequently than just in spring, I get the urge to purge our unwanted and unused items.  It has been easy to bring various clothes, small furniture and decorations to the thrift store benefiting veterans down the street.  Lately I figured some items with more value I would try to utilize the power of Craigslist to see if I could make a little cash.

It has been an interesting adventure to say the least, with some unique inquiries and pushy buyers.  Due to being up to date on the horrors of meeting people over the internet I have been careful to set meet-ups in well-lit public settings.  Most transactions have been simple and uneventful.

On Wednesday afternoon I made a call to the phone number given on an email in response to my ad about a printer I had posted for sale.  After some discussion the gentlemen agreed to make the purchase and wanted to arrange to meet that day since his printer had broken and he needed one to replace it right away.  He suggested that I could just drop it by his shop, I perked up at the thought that it would be a public setting and I could make it convenient for my buyer.  Although when he told me the street it was on, I sank recognizing this as the street named almost nightly for crimes on the 6 o’clock news.  Thankfully he agreed to meet me in front of a store a few blocks from my house (that part he didn’t know).

I arrived at the store and quickly located his blue rusting pick-up truck.  It was the kind of truck my uncle used to have, back when me and my cousins could hop in the back and ride down the gravel path to the neighbor’s house.  Back then no one would frown at us for how unsafe it was to not be buckled in the moving vehicle.  I tried to be friendly and show him where the directions were located.  He did not even seem to make eye contact as he snatched the printer, delivered the cash and went on his way.  In fairness I did arrive late to our meeting, and from his appearance he probably had a hard-working day at his shop.  On my quick drive home I felt satisfied with the two crisp twenty-dollar bills in my palm and wondered briefly if my asking price was too low.  After all, the all-in-one printers are sold for hundreds of dollars new at the store.  It didn’t matter, I was richer then I was when it was sitting in my office collecting dust.  I didn’t think about it again and probably would never have thought about it again until I received a text message on Thursday afternoon.

“Isnt the value of ur own integrity to ur self worth more than forty dollars ?” the text message said.  I would have been completely confused as to who the message came from and what it was pertaining to had $40 not been referenced.    I knew that it had to be the man who bought my printer and I was quick to assume there must have been a problem with the printer.  The feeling of anger poured over me to partner with being offended.  How quick this man was to assume that I had tricked him into buying a piece of junk?  The urge of wanting to return his message with another hateful statement was strong so I put my phone away to think about it for a while.  When I relaxed enough to realize his statement had nothing to do with me, I wondered if he had experiences buying bum equipment in a similar fashion before.  I thought maybe he didn’t know how to install it properly – not that I could be any help.  I considered not responding and just slipping away with my money and letting him believe he was right about the kind of person he believed me to be.

It took me about 30 minutes to come up with a response to his question.  I text him my reply, “Yes.”  

Following this message, a conversation ensued beginning with the man apologizing for making a negative assumption about my character.  I explained that the printer had worked the last I used it and we agreed to meet again to make a Craigslist return.

It seems as though my integrity was restored, in that individual at least, and for the favor a bit of karma came my way.  Let me explain…

While working on the sale of the printer I also had another sale in the works.  Some small VHS blank tapes for the old school type video cameras were also cluttering my office.  I knew they weren’t incredibly valuable and I figured someone could make better use of them than I was.  Sure enough I was in touch with a buyer who wanted to make the purchase for his dad since he was taking a trip to El Salvador this summer and wanted to capture it on tape.  On Friday afternoon I met him in a parking lot where he expressed great appreciation for being able to get the tapes for his dad and handed me a fifty dollar bill.  I told him that I didn’t think I had any change as I had listed the tapes on Craigslist for a fat $10 bill.  The young man seemed confused and stated that he couldn’t remember if we had discussed price and that he planned to offer me $50.  Interestingly, this price would have made the difference in the loss of $40 from the return of the printer.  Yet again another moral dilemma where I could have kept silent and walked away richer.

I handed him back the fifty and told him that it would be too much for these tapes.  We exchanged a smaller amount and he happily took his purchase home to his dad.  While I maintained my integrity through lessons from Craigslist.

I don’t remember where I first heard the definition that always stuck with me… Integrity is doing what is right even when no one is looking.  I love the definition although sometimes it is hard to know what the right thing to do is.


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