The Great (and not so great) things about Craigslist

Craigslist - Norfolk, VA
Craigslist – Norfolk, VA

I’m on the hunt for a dining room set for 6, so I’ve been scouring Craigslist.  In case you’ve just landed on Planet Earth, Craigslist “is a classified advertisements website with sections devoted to jobs, housing, personals, for sale, items wanted, services, community, gigs, résumés, and discussion forums” (Wikipedia).  Pretty much everything you can think of, craigslist can aide and assist in.

It doesn’t take long to realize that the site is a reflection of our society.  People see things from their own perspective, rarely stopping to think how someone else might interpret the same data set.

Perfect example is the photo up there.  This is a real Craigslist post.  It’s an ad for a dining room table and 6 matching chairs.  Notice anything peculiar?  Would you consider serving Thanksgiving dinner on a surface Mr. Mittens and Scratchy obviously have had their way with for quite sometime?  But the great thing (and not so great thing) about Craigslist is that the owner of this ad is perfectly fine with it, the way it is.  Fine with it enough to the point that they are asking for genuine United States legal tender in exchange for this lovely ensemble. 

I generally like to sell something of my own if I’m looking to purchase another item.  It helps to cut down on clutter in our home, as well as provide funds for the new purchase.  On the chopping block was our microfiber armchair and matching ottoman.  I liked this chair, but with limited space in our apartment, something had to go.  

The pair was advertised on Craigslist for the better part of a month.  One lady inquired about the ottoman.  She was particular about it’s size and dimensions.  I told her the pictures (gotta have pictures) do the ottoman justice, and provide a clear representation of what she would be getting, if she so desired.  

The time and date were set for “Mary” to come pick up the Ottoman.  She lives about 10 minutes away, so I brought the piece downstairs outside of my apartment building and awaited her arrival.  50 minutes later Mary shows up, and hops out of her cute ute wearing a skeptical visage.  No mention of her punctuality, Mary asks, “have you done anything to the upholstery?”  As I’m leaning up against my building trying to escape the sun, I think “What kind of querry is that?  Didn’t you see the pictures and go back and forth with me about this and that?”  What I did utter was a clenched “No.  Nothing has been done to it.”  After a few more seconds of sizing up the ottoman, Mary exclaims, “You know, I think it might be too small.  I just bought this leather sectional and I don’t think it will be the right size for it.  Yeah, it’s too small.  Sorry you had to bring it down”, although not really sorry.  Just like that she was off.

I felt like throwing the ottoman on top of her vehicle as she sped off, but I didn’t.  Those be the breaks on Craigslist.  To Mary, it was nothing to waste my time (and her own) going on and on about a piece of furniture she had no intentions of purchasing.  Again, some people don’t stop to think about how someone else may interpret the same data set.

I can’t complain too much though.  I sold the arm chair and ottoman to a guy this morning. Real nice guy. Me and my father-in-law brought it to his house since “Mike” has a small car and wouldn’t have been able to transport it.  He was grateful, and I’m glad to have some capitol to finance the purchase of our future dining room set.

Public Transportation

Ride the Tide
Ride the Tide

One of the added bonuses of moving to downtown Norfolk is being reunited with useful public transportation.  I’ve lived in half a dozen fairly large metropolitan areas.  Besides NYC, only Norfolk has made an honest attempt at providing reliable, cost-effective options for people to get around.

The reasons are obvious; there is a stigma attached to public transportation.  It is for the poor and lower class, who can’t afford a car, and need a way to get from their homes to work, school, and other services.  But due to the nature of Hampton Road’s growing transportation dilemma, localities have been forced to take a different stance on the efficient movement of people, goods, and services.

The Tide is Norfolk’s light rail system that begins downtown at the Eastern Virginia Medical Center and ends at the Newtown Road, the city line between Norfolk and Virginia Beach.  There is a Tide stop steps from my front door, so I see and hear it every day.  

I like the Tide one because it’s a great idea (there’s only so much space for new or widened roads) and the fact that it represents a shift in conventional thinking.  Twenty Years ago, it may have been inconceivable to consider spending public funds on a commuter rail system.  Relatively inexpensive fuel coupled with the mass exodus from cities to the suburbs made the concept laughable.  But today, more people are reconsidering the idea of a long car ride into work, or a car ride at all for that matter.  It makes me smile seeing people alight at the station each morning.  With the news that Virginia Beach is willing to consider extending the Tide into it’s borders only makes it more of a boon to the re-urbanization of the area.  

It also makes catching a Tides game more fun.

Rewriting the Narrative

Mark Duncan AP

It almost never happens.Very few people get the opportunity to rewrite the narrative of their lives.  The reason is obvious: it isn’t until the consequences of our choices are made clear do we know if they were good or bad.

Last Friday NBA Superstar LeBron James began rewriting his own narrative, as well as the City of Cleveland’s.  In a move that was considered unfathomable, James signed a two year deal with the Cleveland Cavaliers, the team he scorned by leaving without warning 4 years ago to join the Miami Heat.  LeBron instantly became NBA public enemy #1, a title held before by the likes of Kobe Bryant and Ron Artest, guys who actually had run afoul of the law in some regard.

Admittedly James himself was taken surprised by the backlash.  It wasn’t just Cleveland and Ohio sports fans who were angry with him.  The media successfully painted him as a selfish athlete, who cared more about taking the easy way out (James spent the first 7 years of his career in Cleveland but failed to win an NBA title) than working through adversity.  The fact that James teamed up with fellow superstars and off the court friends Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.  Despite the Heat  reaching the NBA Finals 4 years in a row, and wining two NBA Championships, it didn’t remove the tarnished image of deceit and betrayal in the eyes of many.

To be fair to LeBron, the goal of most professional athletes is to win titles and championships.  It is what ultimate defines an athletes career as a success, or a failure.   The Cavalier team LeBron was on just wasn’t good enough to reach that goal, so he did what was best for him and changed his situation for a better one.

It is a hard thing to make a right a wrong, especially when you don’t have to.  LeBron didn’t owe Cleveland anything.  Some would even argue he should have left earlier than he did.  But LeBron is wise enough to understand that with this act, he can win back the hearts he lost, at the same time cement his place in history.  Just look at how Cleveland and the NBA have applauded his move so far; one forgets that now Miami is Cleveland of 2010, where Wade and Bosh are left scratching their heads.

We have all experienced similar occurrences.  An ex who actually returns your stuff, a teacher you were at odds with giving you a C when you really deserved an F, your pest of a sibling who took the rap for you that one time you were really in for it.  When people exhibit acts of virtue and integrity, you see them in a whole new light.  It’s as if all the bad stuff they’ve done in the past is erased.  They are showing the ability to grow and evolve, by learning from their mistakes.  No one with a heart can frown at that: their rewritting the narrative.

Although i’m a New York Knicks loyalist (sup Nasir) i’m proud of LeBron.  It’s a very risky but stand up move that will make or break his career.  But LeBron has already won what really matters.

 

The Surest Thing

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The Lottery. One of societies most interesting perplexities. Most people outwardly mock and disparage individuals who participate in it, but somebody has to be buying all those Power Ball tickets.

In some ways The Lottery represents one of mankind’s greatest flaws: the thinking that one stroke of luck can cure all ills. This is not only untrue, it can be dangerous.

I’ve heard The Lotto described as a tax on the mathematically challenged, reason being the odds are astronomically against you. I’d imagine that most lotto players don’t really expect to win, but do it out of habit. But the mentality of “seizing that one moment” has gone beyond the convenient store.

In this day and age, it would seem that many folks are waiting for their time to shine. More than a few “entrepreneurs” are looking for nothing more than a M&A (merger and acquisition) opportunity. The proliferation of reality TV competitions and contests, frivolous lawsuits, and much of social media support the notion that your average person expects the “come-up” or moment of adulation and praise. Success has gone from a goal to an expectation, even an entitlement.

The let down is inevitable because this train of thought is insincere. Most people who have accomplished notable things did so out of their own hard work and determination. Even when it seems the opposite, closer inspection will reveal the perseverance and determination which lead to eventual triumph. “Making it Big” is a function of how much an individual wants it, and is willing to make it happen. To think otherwise is self-deceiving.

One of the side effects of the “seize that one moment” mentality is a generation of people who are suffering because their opportunity hasn’t yet come. They have been taught to expect easy wins with little effort. It is sad to speak to members of this group because they embraced “what their itching ears wanted to hear” (2 Timothy 4:3). It is unwise to believe it is possible to succeed in any sense of the word, without expending some measure effort. From the beginning of time, History teaches that nothing comes easy.

So what to make of this? Bet on yourself. Find out what brings you the most joy and go for it, full tilt. It’s the closest to a sure thing there is.

Selling Yourself

Think long and hard
Think long and hard

I was approached by a recruiter through a job seeker site i’m a member of. He informed me that a company in my area was looking for someone to fill a role with a need for skills and abilities I possessed.

It is quite the ego trip to be courted by a recruiter. Who wouldn’t want to be wooed and pursued. Dan and I spoke on the phone a few times about the position, after which he passed my most recent CV along to the Hiring Manager.  I had heard of the company before, and was excited at the potential for the next step in my engineering career.

Dan got back to me with a few time slots for a phone interview.  I’m not keen on phone interviews.  They put the onus solely on the “candidate” to drive the process.  There is no visual indication as to how the proceedings are going.  The interviewee is forced to say and do to much in an attempt to compensate, or “sell them self”.

The moment the Hiring Manager introduced herself, I knew I was in for it.  It was clear she was a seasoned vet at this.  No matter how artful or insightful a response I gave to the myriad of questions, I got no feedback to gauge how well (or poorly) the interview was going.  In a panic, I changed course from exploring a potential employment opportunity, to trying to prove I was worthy of the evaluator’s time.  I wasn’t even sure I wanted the job, but at that point it didn’t matter.

A few days later, Dan informed me the company decided to go in a different direction.  I felt even worse learning that my “efforts” were for naught.  But I did re-learn a valuable lesson: where possible, stay grounded and humble.  Even a little unexpected adulation can cloud perspective and leave you desperate for more.