Those Awkward Gumtree Moments…

We’re on the move again. As bonafide empty-nesters, we’re going for a proper “downsize” this time into a grown-up, executive apartment with posh fittings, a dishwasher that works, and voluminous sheer curtains that we hope will keep the outside world at bay.

Collection of pieces of furniture.

The latest move means, of course, that I’ve had to rekindle my love-hate relationship with Gumtree to get rid of more of our shit – an experience I return to with mixed feelings.

While I like the premise of the online marketplace, (and so far, I’ve had a pretty good track record with it), I am always surprised by what people sell and buy on the site, ie. Kurt’s “chef set”, as well as the sheer audacity of buyers who persist in negotiating on items that are obviously already bargains.

But I like that the process is simple – even for me, a technophobe. And for most people, the prospect of a bargain or getting something for nothing is invigorating, hence it’s impossible not to get a little bit excited as you upload the prized images of your loot and its enticing copy. And there is a real sense of power as you watch your virtual pack of buyers fight over your item – YES! THIS IS MY STAINED MATTRESS! – somewhat akin to what those unsavory sellers on “Antiques Roadshow” must feel in those few precious minutes before the valuer tells them that the old, fugly plate they inherited from Grandma is worth zilch.

But there are, inevitably, trust issues that you need to be careful about: the buyers that turn up and still try to negotiate, in spite of the price you agreed – safe in the knowledge that you’ve already visualized your gorgeous new sofa in your lounge and will accept just about anything to get the old one out of the way; or the Photoshopped photos that conceal chips on furniture or that large scratch across the top.

I imagine that selling on Gumtree provides a thrill similar to the sense of gratification you get from gambling or the chase in a new relationship. Unless your item doesn’t sell, there’s little to lose from the sport other than your pride, (from the public confirmation of your obviously terrible taste) and the cost and inconvenience of getting your rejected piece taken to the dump.

But even in the event of a sale, there are compromises to be made, such as the loss of your privacy and comfort zone when the buyer turns up to collect their goods – particularly when you are of a socially anxious disposition.

This time – somewhat surprisingly – our most popular item was an IKEA chest of drawers. But in my haste to get rid of it quickly, I under-sold it to the first buyer that contacted me, and so – after the old man and I chipped it, lugging it (like two old people) down the stairs – any hope of a decent profit went out the window. Egg on my face, I called our buyer to inform him, and after re-negotiations that mirrored a car purchase, eventually, we agreed on a price. Suffice it to say, however, I was pretty deflated by the time we got around to discussing the pick-up instructions.

‘Make sure you bring a big enough car,’ I warned him, unable to mask the bitterness in my tone from being robbed in broad daylight and the impending invasion of my privacy for so little financial reward.

‘I’ll take it apart,’ he said.

‘It’s from IKEA,’ I reminded him, ‘and instructions weren’t included in the price,’ I added, under my breath.

‘It will be fine,’ he said, while I reached for the Valium.

He turned up at 6.30pm on a Saturday night (!) with the enviably large toolbox of a “man who can”, leaving the old man drooling behind the curtains of our front window as we watched him take the chest apart on the front lawn. I can’t describe the level of discomfort as the two of us – socially anxious adults – watched this stranger, (who also expected to converse intermittently), hack away at our sold IKEA chest. I assume that he expected to put it back together again.

You may also be able to imagine our relief as his tiny Sedan swung out of our drive.

Our earnings almost paid for two drinks at our local. However, I’m certain that this, our latest experience of the potential perils of Gumtree, will not deter us in the future. We finished the day with extra dollars in our wallet, and the high from that close-to-profitable sale was all the recompense we needed for a slipped disc and the PTSD from tough negotiations and a stranger with a hammer in our home.

Downsizing Your Dysfunctional Home

3DMLW APartment example
3DMLW APartment example (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So, our big news this week is that we’re moving house AGAIN.


We’re staying in the ‘safety zone’, which is how Kurt describes our suburb, but we’re taking a massive leap into the unknown for dysfunctionals, and downsizing prematurely to an apartment.


There are many reasons for this move, apart from the obvious one that the old man and I are just that little bit too comfortable about being old before our time.


The first is the fact that 90% of Sydney rental properties refuse to accept that the Princess is not in fact a dog, and the second relates to our son, Kurt. We have come to the conclusion that secreting our son three floors above us in the attic is not one of our better parenting ideas after all and moving to an apartment will help us police him better develop our relationship with him.


The minor fact that I am completely OVER cleaning has nothing to do with it at all.


We had the choice of a very nice, large family house in a suburb close-by, but we have grown to love our suburb and think we’re ready for a few luxuries that only an apartment can provide.


Downsizing Your Dysfunctional Home
Downsizing Your Dysfunctional Home

We’ve had to lie, OBVIOUSLY, to be allowed admittance into this lovely and as yet, untainted block.


We’re still working on how best to conceal the drum kit, and intend to work on the Princess’s barking disorder (when anyone dares breathe in a 3 km radius of our house); Kurt has also promised not to use the roof terrace or the library room as a smoking/party area.


So the tension excitement is building slowly as we plan what needs to be organised over the next two weeks.

Lonely drum kit
Lonely drum kit (Photo credit: Wakonda (Emilio Vaquer))


There are only two minor issues: the first is to persuade Kurt that this is the right decision for him. He sees (what is a beautiful, secure building) as a potential prison-in-disguise and had rather taken to the other house, complete with music studio/illegal drug den in the attic.


He sees having his bedroom on the same floor of us as an invasion of his privacy and has taken to behaving like a caged animal.


The other impending issue is that we obviously have to get rid of an enormous amount of our ‘stuff’ and this has provoked the old man to crack a smile on his face for the first time in a very long time. In fact, I’m not certain if he is more excited about the prospect of being the only tenant in the building with an empty storage cage or the option of having the storage cage to escape to in times of dire need. He has spent the past 24 hours walking around our current house, pointing to my precious pieces of furniture and accessories and saying ‘you’ll have to get rid of that too, Lou.’


This desire for minimalism fits in with his new philosophy to simplify our lives.


We are waiting for him to point at us.

Enhanced by Zemanta