A Year In New York

A Daily Bite of the Big Apple

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Day 40: The Craigslist Society

August 5th · 4 Comments

Today I got off the subway and walked a few blocks through East Harlem to meet a guy named Kenny Pham. He was selling a red chair that I wanted. As I rang the bell, I felt that tingle I get when I play Craigslist roulette. What sort of person will this one be?

Kenny Pham, as it happens, was a black guy with a mohawk and an apartment with red walls, like his chair. He was selling the chair because he’d just moved in to this smaller place and had no extra room for sitting. I gave him the $50 he’d asked for and carried the throne out the door, and with that, my Craigslist furniture chronicles came to an end. There was nothing else to buy.

I am grateful finally to have all the stuff I need, but I’ll miss having an excuse to meet New Yorkers through the random shuffle of Craigslist. I mean, how else do you meet people when you’re new to town?

There’s the collapsible table I got from a Korean guy named Jaesung who wouldn’t give his phone number and insisted on meeting at the corner of 75th and Columbus, as if we were arranging a coke drop.

There’s the dance studio/furniture showroom where Genevieve, a French dancer, ushered me to the barstools amid couples doing the foxtrot. A sad divorced woman in Staten Island provided my bookshelf; a suspicious Italian, my coffee table; and of course there’s the upper-crust lawyer who snatched away my favorite couch.

The bed I now sleep in came by way of a woman named Melody, who had a British accent and a Spanish surname and a bad case of optimism. She’d bought a platform bed without realizing it would never possibly fit in her closet-size room. I walked off with her mistake, and also (accidentally) her tape measure, and when I returned it she invited me to a concert.

There’s Susan, the Jewish woman, who had this awesome microfiber couch for sale right across the street – across the street! – but the couch was almost bigger than the elevator. I finally wrestled it home with the help of an impatient Argentinean doorman and Susan, who clucked and coached us all the way to the lobby.

When I came back for the pillows, Susan had them gathered for me in a bag. That is the most surprising thing, that everyone has been so friendly, not at all the clawing, poke-your-eye-out aggressors that I had imagined New Yorkers to be.

Kenny Pham sent an email after I got home. It read, “Thanks again…hope you got home ok.” He must have worried about me, a white guy staggering through the rough streets of Harlem, hugging a red lounger.

Tags: Sights & Scenes · Urban Survival · Why I Love This Town

4 responses so far ↓

  • 1 RizzoJ // Aug 6, 2008 at 3:28 am

    Well, if you wore that outfit you posted the other day, I would’ve left you well enough alone. Crazy curly haired spiderman hugging a red lounger…

  • 2 Bev // Aug 7, 2008 at 10:00 am

    Very cool, NY hip stuff! OK, you’ve inspi(red) me. I just bought a house and will try your route for the things I “need”. Congrats and enjoy!

  • 3 Les // Aug 7, 2008 at 5:50 pm

    Gotta love CL!!! 90% of our furniture and all of our vehicles have been either bought or sold through CL. The deals are out there.

  • 4 Kimberly Winston // Aug 12, 2008 at 7:17 pm

    How nice! I think Nyers are nice, too – for the most part. They have a thick crust that cracks easily. And I think they are generally nicer after 9/11.

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