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Contemplating cautions, charisma of Craigslist

Kevin Crittenden

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Kevin Crittenden

Craigslist is the online frontier for all manner of weirdness.

It’s a perfect example of the glory and horror of the digital age.

The name is soiled with associations of murder, prostitution and trickery.

But I believe people are mostly good, that they want to connect with each other and take part in life.

Nonetheless, the anonymity of the Internet makes it easy to ride the fence of legality, whether users are local or on the other side of the planet.

A Pennsylvania teenager recently struck at the fearful nerves of the nation by confessing to killing more than 20 people, by using site.

While the validity of her claims is still in question, there’s no doubt that Craigslist has been a vehicle for a wide range of purposes, good and bad.

Although people are aware that some aren’t trustworthy, the desire for new experience outweighs the recent rumors of a mass murderer who started killing for Satan at age 13.

Consider this personal ad, “Hey so I have always wanted to learn how to shoot. I was wondering if someone would like to teach me. I have no experience. Maybe we could email for a bit first so I know you’re not going to kill me cause you never know who you will meet on here.”

The site has far outgrown the feeble classifieds that preceded it in the age of print.

For basic needs like jobs, part-time gigs and housing it works.

I’ve also peddled used junk, found free stuff and gotten long distance rides for cheap.

Need a microwave? Done. Need to sell a microwave? Post an ad. Want to get involved with your local community? There’s a section for that too.

Here’s one that stuck with me — I never felt endangered, but it was still my only Craigslist failure.

When I moved out of state I needed a place to sleep.

I looked on Craigslist and found a couch for $20 a night.

I arrived at the basement apartment and knocked.

My host, Carl, a heavyset good old boy with a Southern drawl and an obsession with the show “Cops,” pointed to one of three sofas in the living room.

Looking across the living room I saw a beaded partition in the corner that separated a quiet Asian man from the rest of the place.

“Johnny cooks like a royal chef,” he said. “We eat like kings when he’s around.”

I asked, “What does he pay?”

“Nothing,” he said. “He cooks for us.”

There was another man to the left of the TV — a skinny guy wearing flannel and a denim jacket.

“Lenny makes a living playing online poker,” he said

Around 3 a.m. an episode of “Cops” filmed in California came on.

My host got suddenly excited.

“The last time I was in California I was in prison!” he said. “Haha.”

Was he really a bank robber, as he claimed? I’ll never know.

But I do know that I didn’t sleep a wink that night. I left politely and made a mental note, “Don’t sleep on a couch if the living room has three couches for nightly lease.”

Since then I’ve learned to talk to my fellow Craigslisters a bit more before committing to a sleepover, a toaster sale or a housing lease.

I’m convinced that for every successful job landed, great friend met and each free shooting lesson given through the site, there are fewer negative experiences.

Kevin Crittenden can be reached at [email protected] or or @kevlodius.

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Contemplating cautions, charisma of Craigslist