One Man’s Trash…

Is sometimes another man’s nightmare.  Or wait, that’s not how it goes, is it? 

Let me tell you a litte story. I think we’re finally far enough past the week that this actually happened to me to let the rest of my lingering emotion from it out and onto the good ‘ole www.

A couple of months ago, I headed out early one Saturday morning to get some errands done sans kiddos.  As I drove down our street and past a house about ten down from ours, I couldn’t help but notice (what looked like) a really nice table and four-chair set just hanging out six inches from the curb.  Six inches from the curb as in the owners apparently didn’t want it anymore.  That’s what you would think, right?  Ok, me too.  Here’s a visual mock-up if you’re having a hard time picturing it:

tableset

Well, if you know me, you know my heart skipped a few beats and I wanted to stop right then and there to load it up.  But, I didn’t have the energy and I was on a mission to get my errands done asap.  I was so torn though.  I knew that someone would probably grab it later because I’m not the only one in the world who thinks about grabbing unwanted furniture off the side of the road.  I mean, there are memes about it!

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(via)

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So, I drove on and maybe said a little prayer that went something like “God, if you want me to have that table and chairs, you just make sure it’s still there when I get back and I’ll grab it”.  And then I laughed at myself because there was no way it was going to be there when I got back.

And guess what?  IT WAS!  A few hours later when I pulled into our neighborhood and drove down our street and past that house, I spotted it.  I couldn’t believe it!  I mean, it was a Saturday morning when countless people had probably driven past it.  It had to meant to be…because God cares about superficial things like furniture on the side of the road, I know.  ;)

Well, I couldn’t help myself.  I pulled over.  Being that it was six inches from the curb, I knew that it was probably considered trash but I just wanted to make sure because honestly, I didn’t know who in their right mind would toss such a set.  So, I mosyed on up to the front door of the house it was in front of and a nice guy answered my ring.  This is how the conversation went:
Me:  Hi!  Do you guys not want that table?
He:  Nope, take it!
Me:  Really?!
He:  Yes, please take it.
Me:  Ok!  Well, can I pay you for it?  It’s nice!
He:  No.
Me:  Not even $10?
He:  (laughs) No.
Me:  Well, I’m going to anyway.  I don’t have cash on me right now but I’ll stick it in your mailbox later.
He:  Ok.  Whatever.

I skipped as merrily away as I could being that I was pregnant and puzzle-pieced the chairs into the back of our little car.  The table wouldn’t fit so I scurried home and told Anthony we needed to walk down the street and “carry a table home” stat.  And we did.

But, here’s the thing.  We didn’t need a table.  However, I knew something that the money from selling it could go towards so I scrubbed her clean, set her up, and listed her for sale on a local resale site.

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And whaddya know?  I had people lined up to buy it in just a few hours and it was out our door in a few days.

Meanwhile…and when I say meanwhile, what I really mean is MEANwhile

I get a comment on the listing from some lady I don’t even know who apparently knows the owner of the table and chairs letting me know that “It’s not right to take something that was given to you and then sell it.”  Ok.  She wasn’t there when I grabbed the table nor did she see it sitting that six inches from the curb and it was a little rude of her to speak her opinion being that she wasn’t there but whatever.  I went about my day.  As the day progressed a few people “liked” her comment on the listing and, I’ll be honest, it perturbed me a little.  First of all, people don’t ever “like” comments on listings because there’s usually nothing special about them so for these people to be liking this rude comment, what they were really doing is agreeing with this girl and, maybe I was still taking it too personal, but telling me I was wrong for selling a table I grabbed off the curb.  Whatever.  Deep breaths and eye rolls commenced and I moved on.

The day progressed, evening came, Anthony and I put the kids to bed and then sat down to relax together on the couch…and then I get this Facebook message…
vstablenchairs…from a completely different person than the earlier commenter.  Either I’m not as thick-skinned as I think or maybe this was just the end of my nerve, but I was livid.  I was so mad I was shaking.  As I sat there on our couch after laying the kids down for the night, I stewed.  So many things ran through my head.  This girl doesn’t even KNOW me!  The table was trash on their curb!  Get a job?  Need money?  Karma?  What the #$*%&#&??????  And then came rolling in all the things I wanted to write back to her.  Expletives and I’m not even really a user.  Needless to say, that anger gave me enough to fuel to stop me from going to sleep before 2 am that night.  The next day I found out that someone had tried to report me to get me removed from the resale site for “selling something I was given.”  Of course people do that all the time so thankfully, the administrators laughed at the reporter but still, it all made me crazy.  So many irrational thoughts ran through my head during those hours when I couldn’t sleep that night.  Am I wrong for taking the set?  Did I make all this up?  Am I crazy?  Is being a stay-at-home mom really a job?  Are people going to come after me?  Is taking unwanted furniture off someone’s curb stealing?  I even scoured the internet for articles about people who troll over curbs and trash bins for treasures to fix-up and sell or keep or whatever just to bring myself back down to Earth.  People do do this!  It’s real!  I’m not crazy!  I’m not wrong for taking this set!  I…zzzz…

Like I said earlier, the table went out our front door with its current owner a few days later and let me tell you, I’ve never been so excited to see something leave my house.

My whole point in writing out this little tale is to remind you as it reminded me:  Never assume.  Never.  Never.  Never.  Never assume you know everything about a certain situation, especially if you weren’t there in the moment.  The same goes about a person.  Never assume you know everything about a person or the reason why they do something.  I’ve always tried to place empathy before judgement and, as an imperfect human, it’s hard.  It’s hard for me.  It’s so much easier to place blame or to scoff at someone without knowing them and where they came from and why they are who they are.  In a sense, I’m glad that this whole crazy scenario happened because it really drove that into my head, once again.  I’m sure I’ll need to be reminded of it over and over again as I go through life but thank God for the opportunity to grow.  There is truth and there is love and, while we can’t always know the truth because of circumstance, we can always choose to love.  Seek the truth and choose to love.  Always remember that Sheena.

And also, never ever again grab trash off the curb in one’s own neighborhood because, like she said, karma will get you. 

*wink wink*

.           .           .


P.S.  Somewhere in the midst of all this, my neighbor lady who had curbed the table set and I talked via online message and she was soooo nice about the whole thing.  She apologized for her friends’ behavior over and over and even joked that they were crazy for messing with a pregnant lady.  Haha!  Dang right!  I don’t know how they really felt about the table being sold – maybe they didn’t realize they could sell it (she was actually on the resale site I sold it on) or maybe they just didn’t want to put the energy into selling it – but all she/they were to me was gracious and I was so appreciative of that. 

24 comments

  1. What in the world?!? As someone who is honestly too lazy (I mean busy) to sell things online, why would I hate on someone who IS interested in it? They rejected your offer anyways! Ridiculous. p.s. thick skin is hard.

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  2. SO weird. I wonder if there was a disagreement between husband and wife or something?? I pick stuff up all the time. I always feel weird and awkward but those feelings are trumped by the fact that it's going to go in the dump if I don't and I or someone I know can use it! We leave stuff all the time, too, HOPING that someone will pick it up rather than it get trashed. And I'm grateful when people almost always do. I know that many of these people are scrapping it for cash or reselling it and good for them!

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    1. You know, I wondered that too. I didn't go into this in the post but I actually spoke with my neighbor lady whose table it was and she was so gracious. I apologized for any misunderstanding that might've went on between her and her hubs but she told me there was none and that she was so sorry her "friends" were giving me a hard time. I'm sure they might've felt a little sorry they didn't sell it themselves but she didn't show any hurt about it at all. :)

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  3. First, let me say that I'm sorry you were harassed - people on the BST sites are crazy. However, I do wish you'd stop to consider how very fortunate you are and why your profiting off someone's generosity with a little elbow grease is upsetting.

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    1. So, if you buy a house, fix it up, and resale it for profit is that upsetting as well? We are probably talking about less than $100 here. Plus, if you have been reading for any length of time you should know Sheena (somewhat). I know from reading that Sheena is very particular with what she spends $ on (if any $, girl seriously follows a budget) and as a member of the Catholic church I'm sure her family are wonderful stewards. Get over it.

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    2. Kristy are you joking right now? Have you never bought something secondhand? Off of Etsy? From a craft fair?

      Who, exactly, do you think you're handing you $$$ to?

      Sheena, I'm sorry people can be so mean and so weird...you have an eye for design and a talent for making ugly ducklings shine, so don't let some busybody weirdos on the internet get you down. You do you, crafty mama!

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    3. And I don't think "another's generosity" is even a point here. They considered it trash and threw it out. It's not like the guy walked down the street and offered it to Sheena's family (or any other family) because he thought they might need it. Sheena, you were a gem to ask and offer to pay him. No guilt, Sister! I've always admired how resourceful you've been for your family....and in this case two family's benefited. The one who put in the time/elbow grease, and the family that got a great cleaned up table second-hand as opposed to paying full price.

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    4. I've been thinking about your comment a lot Kristy and in one sense, I think you're right. I was so very fortunate to have stumbled upon that set. I mean, it was there for the taking and anybody would have been lucky to have gotten it. But I guess I can't see the generosity here. When we moved across the country several years ago, we left a love seat that was in excellent condition and a year old vacuum cleaner out on our curb for the taking the day we drove off forever because we couldn't fit them into our stuffed uHaul. I don't know who ended up grabbing them (or if they got hauled away by the trash guy) nor did I really care. I'd be hard-pressed though to accept the compliment of someone telling me I was generous in laying my stuff on the curb. I don't know why this family didn't sell the set themselves but they didn't. They could also have donated it to a thrift store or put out a listing for a free table to a family in need...but they didn't. By placing it out on their curb, just like we did to our stuff years ago, they had zero control over what happened to it next. For me to come along and grab it and turn around and sell it, I don't think has anything to do with profiting off someone else's generosity. Maybe you can clarify how you see that?

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  4. You offered the original owner money, multiple times. He turned you down, multiple times. That furniture is yours to do whatever you want with it, whether that's keep, give away, sell or burn in a fire pit. In your place I might have made 1 reply stating that money had been offered & refused multiple times, then I'd start blocking people. I have no idea why people think their opinion is necessary on things they aren't even involved in. BTW, I have that same set in our breakfast area and love it!

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    1. It was sooo tempting to dish the whole story to these two trouble-makers; to let them in on what they obviously missed but I didn't. I guess I didn't want to give them any idea that I thought it was okay that they were meddling in my business, like you said. Sigh. But, either way, so funny you have this set! I loved it and part of me deep down wished we needed it! :)

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  5. This makes me so angry too Sheena! You did not "profit off someone's generosity", you took the time to completely upgrade something and resell it. That's like people getting upset with people that buy real estate "cheap", put a lot of time and money into upgrading it, and then resell it for a higher price! If you want to make the money, do it yourself! If not, pay the price and be thankful someone did the work for you!!!

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  6. Oh my goodness- so sorry, Sheena! It makes me so mad how people blast strangers on social media as if they know everything about a situation!
    Also, isn't the premise for selling something secondhand: you acquire it and then sell it, The end? I completely agree with Sara- that furniture is yours to do whatever you want with it. Anyone who reads your blog knows you're an good, hard-working, honest person. :)

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    1. Ha! Yes! That is secondhand selling at its finest!

      Thank you for your sweet words. You have no idea how much it means to me to hear them...ahem, read them. :)

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  7. That was crazy! I saw your post on Instagram first and I assumed the facebook messages were coming from the previous owners (that would've still been crazy, but maybe more understandable?). As I was reading this, I seriously couldn't believe it!

    My humble opinion on this subject is that, once the set is legally yours, you can do as you wish with it.

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    1. I think that's one thing that really threw me too! I'd never step in my friends' business as a third party and write someone a nasty note like that, no matter what! Crazy! I'm sure she regrets it now though so I kinda feel sorry for her but still...

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  8. Sheena, you have a God-given talent. You are able to see a piece of furniture or decorative item and can envision a made over version of it. You're able to photograph it & list it so it's appealing and sells. You are creative in that you are able to bring in income for your family without having a formal "job" that takes you away from your family. Don't let a few bad apples get you down...you are honest in everything you do and I admire you for having the energy to rehab everything! Like most things in life, people are good at what they enjoy and they enjoy what they're good at. I could totally see you starting a business some day!

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    1. Kathleen, I know it's supposedly not hard to make a preggo tear up but you really did and it had nothing to do with pregnancy hormones. Thank you sweet friend! You have made the rest of my week. Truly, thank you so, so much.

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  9. I thought the story was going to go that you grabbed the table and then the owners came running out scolding you as you loaded it. Cause that's what I'm always afraid of, even if it's by the dumpster on trash day. That would be mortifying! I have even done the (oddly, also while super preggo) super awkward knock and ask, because why do people throw away such great stuff?!

    But man, this is just frustrating! I don't know that I could have kept my cool. Way to see the silver lining in this and way to keep it classy.

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    1. I love that you can relate so well Mary!! I guess maybe I'm good keeping my cool on the outside (after a thousand deep, deep breaths) but on the inside, it was pretty steamy through all this. Haha! Oh the lessons we learn... :)

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    2. I thought that, too! Haha, I thought they must have put it out there to use for some reason, and then "caught" you "stealing" it...anyway, sorry you had to deal with the nasties. Some people don't realize that there are actually people attached to Social Media accounts. People with real feelings....Sad.

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    3. Oh THAT would be awful! Haha! It is sad how social media, as great as it can be, can reduce people to mere pictures on a screen. I've never really thought much about it but you're right!

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  10. We used to have a "free store" in our neighborhood. It was great- people would leave stuff they didn't need and other people would take it. Then it got shut down after a couple of years bc people started getting upset that some folks would go get stuff from the free store and then sell it. I never understood why this was upsetting. If I had the energy to deal with selling it, I would. If someone else has the wherewithal to make a profit off the things I get rid of, I am thrilled to help them out. If I'm happy to give you a table, I'm just as happy for you to sell it and get money you need to pay for food to put on the table.

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    1. That's really cool! It's really unfortunate that people get upset. I think it all boils down to some sort of jealousy - either that they don't have the drive to go sell it or that someone else is making a little money off a little bit of work. Sad.

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A penny for your thoughts? Or how about you give your two cents? Whatever the change, I'd love to know what you think and I try my best to respond! If your name is linked to your email, I'll hit you up there. If not, check back! I'd love to see you again anyway! :)