Tuesday, March 29, 2016


When we moved into our current house, more than ten years ago, my aunt from Maine bought us a bouy bell.  It was a cool gift, a deep, clangy chime that reminded me of summers in Kennebunk Beach when I was growing up.  We hung it from the barn, over our garden, for a while, until it fell (did it fall?), and moved into the barn, where it accumulated wasp nests and rust.

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?
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  1. What a cool story! I have never free cycled because I'm afraid of accumulating junk, but ask because I haven't got around to figuring out how it works. That's a bit freaky that you are such a good net stalker. already feeling less anonymous ;-)

  2. Nice story! I am in love with the buy nothing project---same idea but limited to your immediate neighborhood, and on Facebook. I've met some people and given away a ton (gotten a few things)

  3. Theater tickets for an item you don't want anymore? I consider that a win.

    I've had the same thought with freecycling. Are the people picking up the items using them or are they selling them? Does it matter? I mean, if they're willing to take the time to sell it whereas I just wanted it out of my house, is it so bad if they make money off of it? I don't know. I go back and forth with stuff like that and then end up never decluttering :-)

  4. On freecycle, but have never participated. But now I want to!

    So glad the bell found a new home. And may karma continue to come back to you for all these good interactions.

  5. What a happy ending for all three of you (the guy, you, the bell).

    I am about to freecycle some computer components now (monitors, speakers, keyboard). I don't think I'll google any inquirers, though.

    Want a monitor?

  6. That is awesome you got play tickets for your bell! Karma pretty much rules my life in how I conduct myself. The older I get the more this is true! I have seen it at work first hand so many times it's hard to think any other way.
    My favorite example is years ago when I had my second and third children close together. They were being small children in a grocery store when a crotchety old lady made rude remarks to me (and my kids weren't even really misbehaving!) and I was really upset by it. Two seperate people during that same shopping trip stopped me to comment on my well behaved little tykes and how I was doing such a great job with them. I wholeheartedly believe it was because I wasn't rude to the old woman back and instead just went on about my business.


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