Saturday, February 20, 2010

The lost art of following instructions

I've posted quite a bit about Freecycle. It's a fantastic organization--each local group provides people with a way to give away stuff they don't want, and to receive items others are giving away.

Well, when you've done Freecycle for awhile, you get tired of poor communication, and you tend to turn into a Type A Freecycler. You have specific ideas about how you want to give stuff away. Having given away dozens of items and groups of items, I'm definitely one of those picky Freecyclers. When I posted some boxes, packing material, and Zoodle shoes yesterday, I ended my offer with this paragraph:

PLEASE READ THIS PARAGRAPH before responding: Please let me know WHICH NUMBER(S)/ITEMS you're interested in. The shoes are available for front porch pickup; just let me know WHEN you'd like to come so I can put them out for you. We'll need to schedule a time for the box/packing material pick-up; let me know some times that would work for you. I prefer e-mail communication but can give you my phone number if I choose you as a recipient, in case you get lost.

So you can imagine my frustration when (after already posting updates about 3 out of the 4 groups of items that were already taken), I received this email:

i will take the packing materials i guess numbers1 2 and 3 please call me whit a good time to pick them up

He ended with his name, phone number, and "thank you". When I sent an email asking him to read the paragraph of instructions and explaining what I needed from him, he responded,

thanks for your time ....seems like to much work for some boxes .. thank you though

[In an effort to rein in my frustration, which I admit is kind of ridiculous when we're talking about boxes, I've deleted the paragraph of this blog in which I explain what I think of that email. I didn't reply to the guy.]

Oh boy. I'm turning into Freecycle's version of a Grinch. On the other hand, when the lady who is picking up Zoodle's shoes turns up at 4 p.m. (the time she told me in her initial email), I just may burst into tears of joy, kiss her, and beg her to always take the items I offer.

Something tells me I need to take a few deep breaths and rediscover my inner cheerful giver....


Call Me Cate said...

I love Freecycle and Craigslist for the recycle/reuse of it all but I detest coordinating pickup. And with Craigslist, the additional "fun" of people wanting to negotiate prices, etc. Blech.

Add in a bit of paranoia about having people show up at my house when the husband isn't around (which is often) and it stresses me out. I totally understand wanting to hug the shoe lady who follows directions.

Bobbi said...

Call Me Cate / C.Beth:

I know your frustration!!! I have tried to sell an antique vanity on craigslist for weeks now. I've three people back out on me THE HOUR they are supposed to come by to pick it up.

In my post I say the mirror is large. It is 4 feet in diameter. Then they sak, "Do you think it will fit in a car?"

Um... I wrote it is four feet in diameter. Measure your car and calculate if it will fit. If it won't fit, don't email me! Don't say you'll take it. Or else find a truck to borrow. :)


Mellodee said...

This kind of thing is truly annoying. I think that there are two elements at work here. 1) People don't read, really they don't....they scan, they assume, but they don't read! 2) Its part of the whole entitlement mindset. It is sort of a "I don't care what you want, its what I want that's important." kind of thing.

At least he was polite!