Grad Giveaway Grief

Posted on June 29th, 2014 by Viveca in New York Stories

Test Prep Materials (Williamsburg)
Teachers’ materials for SAT, GRE, SHSAT, and GMAT. Mostly 2005-2012, some with notes on them.

That’s what I posted on Craigslist.

In the interest of not bogging down this story, I’m going to try to let it tell itself. It’ll be whatever the modern, electronic version of epistolary is. Well, almost. I won’t get into too much about the decision to give away this stuff and the emotional impact, but I will say that I got a bunch of responses, and someone picked up the SAT and SHSAT materials almost immediately. I posted a separate listing giving away all my ESL materials, and those were also picked up promptly. Both parties were courteous and grateful. The guy who took the ESL materials did want my help getting certified and texted me the next day to invite me to see his art, but you expect that on Craigslist.

This story is about the giveaway that didn’t go so smoothly.

Here’s the first email I got from DD:

Hello
I am interested in the GRE and GMAT books do you still have them?

She wasn’t the first person to ask, but the first guy didn’t write back after I responded, so she was next in line.
I wrote back:

Yes! Those are the only ones I have left. Actually I gave away a ton of GRE but found more. When can you pick up? I will be home till noon today and then after 9pm. It’s a lot of stuff as those are the main tests I taught.
I’m on Flushing Ave between Marcy & Lee in Brooklyn. Please let me know.
Viveca
(212) 989-4718

She responded right away:

can we do Sunday because at the moment I am not in town

So did I:

I have plans during the day Sunday but could meet you here Sunday night if that works.

The next day we started to iron out specifics. She wrote:

where would you like to meet because I will be in the area on Williamsburg second stop on the L train from Manhattan

Hm. I’d already told her what block I was on, and she still hadn’t set a time. I responded:

From there, just catch the G train two stops to Flushing. I’m half a block away at 567 Flushing Ave. Call when you get out of the subway, and I’ll bring you out the books. (212) 989-4718
If you’re taking the train, you might want a little cart or something. The stuff is heavy.
What time is good for you? The later in the day, the better probably, as I have to go to Staten Island earlier.

Her next email addressed time and place but not very satisfactorily:

can we meet somewhere on the L train line
can I call you or text you Saturday night with the time for sunday

I wasn’t offering to deliver the materials, but I tried to be flexible about her refusal to set a specific time:

The materials are available for pick-up. I have a very long day of running around Sunday, and it is unlikely that I will be up for going out that night. Also, the package will be heavier than I want to carry on the subway. If you’re not sure, I might give them to the next person in line. I am fine with not setting a time until we both know our Sunday schedules. I may not know what time I can get home until Sunday anyway.

Her next email went in a different direction:

what year are the GRE books
I am super intersted

I gave her the information and told her what the materials were:

For GRE, I have an unopened teachers version of the Kaplan coursebook, some booklets that I’ll toss if you’re just studying not teaching, and a pocket reference, all from 2011.
Did you want GMAT too? I have a ton of GMAT stuff, all probably from about 2011.
Viveca

But then she kept adding questions:

did the books come out before or after the new test requires for GRE
were you a tutor before or something

I don’t actually like spending this much time emailing a stranger, especially one who is asking me to do her work for her, and come to think of it, I’d already told her I taught this stuff.

The GRE changes all the time. I don’t know which new test you’re referring to, but some of the material stays the same, and I figured someone could use this stuff and do the research for themselves about what is useful and what is different. I will not be looking that up for people. I stopped teaching test prep years ago and don’t keep up with test changes any more. In my post I said the it was teaching material and that it wasn’t current. I gave you the dates. If you want to look up which changes have happened when, go ahead.
This is our twelfth e-mail back and forth. Other people have been emailing me, and I don’t like stringing them along. If you want the stuff, please just take it, and you can use it or not. I don’t have time for this. Also, you still haven’t answered whether you want GMAT too. Please let me know so I can give that to someone else if you don’t want it.
Thank you.

In her response, she answered one of my questions! Then she added one that I had already answered in my first email to her.

Will take all GRE and GMAT on Sunday
What else do you have?

Before I could answer, she repeated back one of my own questions to me:

What time would you like to meet on sunday

It’s really helpful when people suggest a time instead of just asking. It serves the same function, in that I can counter propose a different time, but if I can say yes, it saves one round of negotiating. Unfortunately, in the three days we’d been emailing, a new wrinkle had come up in my schedule, and I had to give a flaky response back:

Great, thanks. That’s all that’s left.Also, if you name a time soon, I can probably work around you. I have to get someone at the airport, and I don’t know what time his flight gets in, but if it’s any time before that, I will accommodate whenever you want.

Then I found out my schedule, and I decided it was worth it to accommodate her delivery request just to get it set and done with:

Turns out I have to be at LGA at 1:30, much earlier than I thought. We can meet in the morning or if you want I can bring them to you tonight or depending where you are tomorrow since it’s my fault I won’t be around tomorrow night now.

But she ignored my offer to come to where she was and instead asked more questions and complained about having to pick up, which I’d just told her she didn’t have to do:

how many books are we talking about?
I am still pretty area and I don’t where Flushing Ave is
it there any other location we can meet

I was getting pretty tired of this.

A photo is attached. As I already told you, it is a lot of materials but not mostly books.
As I said in my last email, depending where you are, I could bring you the materials tonight or tomorrow.
You’d need to let me know soon though or I won’t have time to bring them. If it would be easier, you can call me (212) 989-4718.
Viveca
Test prep materials

At 8:30am the morning we were supposed to meet, she sent another email:

I am heading to the city now I will probably get in about 9 am but I will text you when I do get in

Great! If she was getting to the city at 9, we’d have plenty of time to meet in Williamsburg before I had to be at Laguardia. I was relieved this was going to work out after all (and it had only taken 19 emails).

Ha.

I got her first text at 12:09pm:

Hello what time would you like to meet about the gre and GMAT books

I texted back:

As I told you, I need to be at Laguardia at 1:30. I was expecting to hear from you at 9am! If you’re going to be in Williamsburg, I can drop them off around 1pm. Otherwise you can pick them up here tonight as we said originally.

We did, right? I mean, I said Sunday during the day was hard but I could be home that night. Then I’d caved and offered to drive to her during the day.

I was a little worried I couldn’t make it in time, so I texted back:

Actually 1:15 if you give me an address in Williamsburg.

I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised that she did not gratefully accept my offer to deliver the materials to her where she said she would be. Instead of giving me an address, she tried to change the time:

Can do a little early 12:40 Because I never heard back from you about 9:00 guess it was a miscommunication

What miscommunication? She said she would text at 9. She didn’t say she’d text at 9 if I confirmed getting her email. Why should I write back to say yes, text at 9? In fact, why had she even sent me an email at 8:30 to say she was going to text at 9. Couldn’t she have just texted at 9? Besides, it was already 12:30!

I guess I let my frustration show:

You emailed saying you’d text when you got into the city at 9, and I never heard from you!

Okay, whatever. I won’t be ready to leave that early. You can come get them here at 12:40, or I can bring them to you at 1:15.

I thought that was fair.

She didn’t. Or at least I think she didn’t. I didn’t quite understand her next few texts:

And I never thought you got you got email

Question for far nissan station on the g from you

Is Flatbush in Queens

??

Huh? Even if “nissan” was an autocorrect typo, I still didn’t get it, and why was she asking about Flatbush?

I tried to answer her question:

I don’t understand the question. What does “For far Nissan mean?

I sent you the address. You can look it up on Google maps, which gives subway directions.

I don’t think Flatbush Ave even goes to Queens.

But she kept asking:

How far is it from Greenpoint?

I think the g stops at a few places in Greenpoint.

Why was she asking about Greenpoint if she was coming from Williamsburg? That’s in the opposite direction. Plus, I’d already sent directions for how to take the G to my house. I pointed this out to her.

567 Flushing Ave, Brooklyn. You can look it up yourself. As I told you, it’s very near the G stop at Flushing, which is in Williamsburg, not Greenpoint.

She didn’t respond for a while, and I had to leave, so I texted her again:

Okay forget it. I’m heading to the airport.

And I did.

I had said she could pick them up that night though, and that night at 8:30, she tried again:

How about meeting at metropolitan Ave g trian

My delivery offer had expired with my patience:

No. If you want to come here, I’m home for the night.

She didn’t respond. I figured that was over. In fact, I showed Jacob the emails, and he couldn’t believe I’d let it go on as long as it had. He was right. Forget her.

I put up a new listing on Craigslist, hoping I’d answer all potential questions in the ad:

GRE & GMAT Prep Materials

GRE and GMAT teaching materials, mostly from 2011. Some parts of the tests may have changed, but most of it is still applicable. Some unused. Some have writing in them. Two bags of teachers and student versions of the books, workshops ranging from grammar fundamentals to advanced math, and pocket reference books. Could be used for teaching or studying.

A few people responded that day, several offering to come over immediately. I emailed back the first person to respond. I was on my way to work though, so we agreed that he would pick the stuff up that night. He did. Yes, did you hear that? I offered him free stuff, he said he’d pick it up, and then he did what he said. He was polite and grateful.

Then DD emailed again:

I am interested in all the books but you never met me on Sunday

That was true, actually, but I sure had offered to meet her. I let loose.

No.You took 19 emails (this is number 20) and 19 text messages, asked the same questions over and over, didn’t text when you said you would, and never set a time even when I offered to drive the materials to you. I’ve been doing stuff on craigslist for over a decade, and nobody has ever made it this hard to give them hundreds of dollars worth of free stuff.Doing well on these tests (and definitely going to graduate or business school) requires paying attention to details (I said pick up not delivery), figuring out how to solve problems (like finding unfamiliar addresses), doing your own research (which parts are still relevant from 2011), and committing to show up and do some of the work yourself, especially when it’s only for your own benefit.

I gave everything away to the next person who answered. It took less than 11 hours from the time he responded to the ad to the time he picked up the materials, and that was only because I was busy most of the day.

Be angry if it’ll make you feel better. This was very frustrating. It’s over now.

I wasn’t proud of myself, but I also wasn’t expecting the response I got:

you are scammer I will report you to craigslistyou treated me trash despite I was going take all the booksI do hope no one treats you the way you treated me but if they do maybe then it will teach a lesson on how to treat peopleyou are scammer I will report you to craigslist you treated me trash despite I was going take all the books I do hope no one treats you the way you treated me but if they do maybe then it will teach a lesson on how to treat people

Hey, I admit that I wasn’t kind, but I was not, am not, a scammer.

Report away. I’m confident the email thread will justify me, and of course I also have the email thread and contact information for the people who got the materials, and they can confirm I delivered.

No scam, just not enough patience to deal with all your questions and refusal to pick up the stuff I offered.

For some reason, that didn’t make matters better. She replied:

I am also reporting you now to the police for harassment
PLEASE DO NOT EVER CONTACT ME AGAIN!!!

Since she said “please,” I am honoring her request. Oh, and since I never want to deal with her again.

2 Comments on “Grad Giveaway Grief”

  1. Todd Strong

    Wow, I might interested in some of those books. Do you still have them? And are they for the most current test? How much would it be to ship them to Canada?

    My wife became frustrated one time when she tried to give away some chairs on Craigslist. She had included our phone number and was surprised at the types of questions people were asking.

    I asked her to please remove the Craigslist notice, and put the chairs in the back alley with a “Free” sign on them. The chairs were gone by the time I got back inside and looked out the window.

    take care, Todd

  2. Viveca

    Eventually I got rid of them, but yes, these days I mostly leave things in the hallway, which is our building’s version of a free exchange.

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