We don't have much we don't need, but we are systematically ridding ourselves of the few things we own that fall into that category. I'd taken out the bell, thinking that perhaps I'd move it, when I realized I didn't much like the sound of it after all. Too clangy. Might piss off the neighbors.
I've sold some things online, but mostly I've Freecycled things, hoping that they find another home and new life. Sometimes I wonder about Freecyclers, hoping that they don't just go try to sell my stuff on eBay, dumpster diving like the big white truck that drives slowly up and down the streets of town on the night before garbage day.
I decided to Freecycle the bell, hoping for the best. I got a lot of responses soon after I'd posted it; the chime is, after all, still working just fine, and it's a $70 item. I looked at the list of willing takers, wondering if I'd made the right choice, reassuring myself that no, I didn't need the bell, and that the right thing to do was to give it away to someone who would love it.
But because of my ongoing misgivings about the intentions of people who pick things up for free, I decided to Google the people in line.
(I have mad Googling skillz. I am not ashamed to own this; I could probably make money as a Google-stalking-private-detective. My real gain from years of doctoral studies.)
Some of the people claimed ties to Maine, or to Kennebunkport, telling me that the bell would feed their nostalgia. Some people told me where the bell would live. The first person to respond hadn't said much, though, and I was hesitant to let him claim it.
Turns out he is trying to bring new life to a theater in a town I used to frequent, where flooding had completely wiped out local businesses, and an immigrant community had moved in, just barely making ends meet. He staged a production of "Jesus Christ Superstar," and was working on "Assassins," to debut in May.
I wrote back to him, telling him where he could pick up the bell, and asking whether he was indeed the same person I'd found. He affirmed, delighted that I'd found him (surprisingly not creeped out at all, which most sane people should be, I guess). We had a brief correspondence about pickup arrangements, and some time this afternoon, the bell disappeared from my driveway.
In my inbox: a short note, thanking me again, and offering me two comped tickets to "Assassins" in May.
Which, though perhaps a more short-lived pleasure, I think I'll enjoy a whole lot more than the bell. I'm glad it found a new home, for both of our sakes.
Have you ever Freecycled something? Or picked up something free? Or participated in a parallel economic system that seems to work better than you'd expect it to?