Cycling for free

I’ve heard a lot of good things about freecycle over the years — people who see the value in giving or getting things for free instead of throwing them away or heading to Walmart yet again have told me they really like freecycle for handing them easy access to things they need or would like to pass on. It stops just short of bartering, so you don’t need to offer anything other than the obligation to come pick up the item yourself.

I signed on to the Walla Walla freecycle list. I didn’t really know what to expect. In a rural town of 30,000, what things would appear? How soon would people respond? 

 

farm field east of Walla Walla

farm field east of Walla Walla

My friends in DC have gotten and let go of a lot of kids’ toys, but I haven’t seen anything like that. Ferret cages and supplies, on the other hand, are on the Walla Walla list. There’s also one particular person who puts out requests for things several times a week, items like a washer and dryer, baby clothes, that sort of thing. I read these email messages and I get nervous. Has the local Freecycle always been this busy, or is it an effect of a poor economy? Are people posting because they value doing things a little off the grid, or is there distress I should be reading into the letters?

Perhaps Freecycle is not for me, if it’s going to make me anxious like this.

Someone posted that they had a Betta fish to give away. Being a fan of such creatures, and wanting to get back in the pet-caring-for community, I sent in an email saying I could pick it up anytime. I didn’t hear back, and three days went by with no “Claimed” or “Retrieved” notice from the original poster. I stayed up all night — was the fish okay? Had he been on his last legs? Was he in the sewer system — the Valhalla for trusty but short-lived aquarium animals? Would he meet Chairman Mao in his next life, perhaps? The more I thought about it, the more concerned I became. My mind raced to thoughts of a painful, slow death for the fish and wondering if they thought I was somehow undeserving of parenting their little friend, based only on my email address. I reread my email — I didn’t sound like a fish-focused ax murderer. But then I went on to wonder if ax murderers realized they sounded crazy. Perhaps I was blind to my own insanity!

Days later, the email followup appeared: many, many people had written in to claim the fish. The forlorn, nearly-dead Betta I had pictured was a little off-base: clearly this was the most beloved fish in all of Walla Walla County. Loved and free.

I could make a flag of that. And put it on Freecycle.

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