Saturday, January 24, 2009
1908 Cement Mixer?
Operating on the philosophy that one man's trash is another man's treasure, Freecycle is a series of email listservs sponsored by Yahoogroups which allow people in communities around the world to post electronic "ads" offering to give stuff away or seeking free, used stuff. Members of the local Freecycle communities either get an email with every new ad that is posted, or they can get a weekly(ish) digest with all of the ads posted for the week.
Still not clear on how it works? Let me give you a concrete example. Say I'm cleaning out my closet and find a bunch of old purses I don't use any more. Rather than dumping them in a landfill or putting them in an Africa box, I can post them on Freecyle to give to a neighbor who might be able to use them right away. Likewise, if there is something I need/want that I am happy to get in used form, I might post a request on the Freecycle community in the hope that someone has a spare one kicking around they are willing to give away for free. I have received exercise equipment, plant stands, lawn/leaf bags, iris rhizomes, and moving boxes through Freecycle either by responding to ads with "offers" or getting answers to my "wanted" ads. And I have given away innumerable pieces of "trash" to individuals looking for treasure including lamps, a DVD/VCR player, drop ceiling panels and half-empty cans of paint.
In my experience there is some weird stuff posted on Freecycle. This includes:
*Half full bottles of bubble bath (the former owner found she was allergic to it and couldn't use it anymore),
*Partially consumed bags of potato chips,
*Twist ties saved over a lifetime of eating bread, and
*Broken electronics (we can't figure out how to fix it, but maybe you can?)
In my experience packing materials, toys outgrown by one's children, books/movies, and clothing (see outgrown reference above) are among the most common items posted.
And today, while reading the Freecycle digest for my little suburban neighborhood, I found this:
Freecycle™ Hingham, MA
Messages In This Digest (1 Message)
OFFER: 1908 cement mixer
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OFFER: 1908 cement mixer
Fri Jan 23, 2009 7:44 am (PST)
This cement mixer dates back to the early 1900's - we think about 1908 (not entirely sure). It worked until at least the early 1970's. There's a lot of rust & the engine probably seized up a while back. You will need to pick this up in Marshfield & it's really heavy - so you will probably need some sort of machinery to lift it. It's in the back yard, so you will have to get through the snow to retrieve it. Wheels are not attached, as they are no longer any good (the wood rotted). This would be a good project for someone who likes to restore old mechanical things - or sell it for scrap. Photos available upon request.
WTF? Who has an old cement mixer in their backyard. That hasn't been functional since the 1970s? What is it doing there? Is it being used as a planter? A kids' toy? A conversation piece at cookouts? A rusty punch bowl? And who among my neighbors would want a 100 year old, broken cement mixer? Maybe there is someone who has a museum of old construction equipment that could use it. But what is the likelihood that person lives in the same town where an antique cement mixer just happens to live?
I'm always amazed at how the world works. Or better put, how the odd individuals in the world work.