Navigating the pitfalls of online bargain hunting

Published 11:42 am Thursday, April 18, 2024

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I really must stay away from Facebook Marketplace.

I have very little willpower in general and perusing the Marketplace has the same effect on me as glancing over to see a yard sale as I’m driving towards a specific errand. And because items are cheap, I return home triumphantly with something completely unnecessary and undesirable until I see it either online or balanced precariously on a wonky barstool in someone’s front yard.

“What,” said Paul, picking up each item with distaste using only his thumb and index finger and removing them from the kitchen island. “Are these?”

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Now I know how chagrined cats must feel when the headless mouse they’ve deposited upon the front doormat is met with horror and shrieks of disapproval. Actually, I don’t think any cat has ever felt chagrined, just trying to make a point. They’re probably relieved, knowing they get to eat the whole thing themselves without having to follow the rules of etiquette and politely offer a piece of it to anyone.

“That is a denim fanny pack and a Big Mouth Billy Bass,” I replied as if begrudging the obvious. 

“You bought somebody’s nasty 30-year-old fanny pack which might have been God knows where, and a stupid talking fish?”

“No, I just bought the fish. But because he doesn’t talk”—and here my eyes began to dilate with excitement—“I got the fanny pack for FREE. And listen, you travel overseas leading your garden tours all over the world and that fanny pack will keep your cards and cash safe.’

Paul tossed it in the trash while I gaped. 

“Now I’ve got to go boil my hands after touching it,” he muttered and left the room.

Undeterred, that very evening I was trawling through Facebook Marketplace when my eyes fell upon my dream car which, admittedly, I’d forgotten about since 1997, but here it was: a 1997 Volvo wagon with decent mileage and said to be in quite good shape. I’ve always found that decade’s Volvos to be the epitome of understated countryside 

elegance— so very ‘Town and Country’ in which to toss one’s saddle and two Labradors in the back. I’d drive it donned in Harris tweed and corduroy, wearing one of those flat caps…

“Look!” I exalted to Paul, “My dream car!”

He frowned. “Since when?”

“Since forever. Since I saw Jimmy Stewart coming out of church in Beverly Hills and getting into his. And this one’s only $2,000.”

“You don’t need it. You’ve got the truck.”

“Precisely, but there’s times the truck is a pain to take and a hassle to find a parking spot. If I had a second car like this, we could put the dogs in it and I could use it for errands or short trips. Plus,” I added with a flourish, “It would never be stolen.”

Paul was perusing online ads himself, looking for framed Morgan prints for his garage and mumbled in reply, “Because no one would want it.”

I leaned in, victorious. “Because it’s a manual 5-speed transmission. Did you know only 2% of the American population can drive a stick shift? It would never be stolen because a thief wouldn’t know how to drive it. That means we’d only need the bare minimum insurance and save money!”

“Makes about as much sense as a Big Mouth Billy Bass to hang on the wall,” he replied and called the dogs to take their evening walk.

Undeterred, I let his remark pass ignored. I liked this car. I wanted this car. I was GOING TO HAVE THIS CAR. And then with the attention span of a Jack Russell, I scrolled further down the page and gasped.

Ooooooo….an unopened box of Dr. Scholl insoles!