Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Free Stuff Flakes

A little OT here, but it's a common occurrence for Free Stuff posters to lament the many responses they receive, and the number of "flakes" - people who say they're comin' to get it, then don't. Just today, in the SF Bay Area -

"I have had a number of people flake on me...please only inquire if you are serious!!!"

"I've had wayyyy too many replies re: this TV stand. I'll respond to those that replied and re-post if they all flake."

"We've had lots of flakes so, they are free to the first person to come pick them up."
We're curious about the sociology of Free Stuff. Who are these "flakes"? Of course, we don't have time for empirical research here at VMHQ, but we have plenty of time for pure speculation.

I suspect a lot of the "flakes" are new CL users, who have just discovered the free section, and can't believe all the stuff they can get for free: "ohmigah, ohmigah, look, look! A particleboard TV stand - FREE! And it's not even on fire!" So they immediately respond, then realize they (1) don't have room for the TV stand, and (2) already have a perfectly good one in the rumpus room. Adrenaline subsides; lesson learned.

Others are hardcore OCD/hoarder Free Stuff neurotics, people with a compulsion to respond to every ad in a category, but because of their mental illness, can't work, and therefore can't pay for gas to pick things up. They are stuck at the response stage - "I'll be right there to get it." They won't, but it satisfies some need within them to contend that they will. "Pile of paving stones, you will be mine."

Finally, the bulk are people like the first category of newbies, who have just never completely learned the lesson they should have the first time. A little cautious, but still excitable when the right item comes up. "That is a cool dresser. I want that. Livermore isn't that far away. Oh wait, I don't have a truck. Or a friend who can help me at 2 p.m. on a Tuesday."*

Other flakegories?

*Yes, I am describing myself. But I usually figure it out before I hit "send" on my e-mail.

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