OUR possessions tell all kinds of tales on us.
The chattiest objects are the ones we are desperately trying to unload for free online.
In better times for the newspaper industry, people got rid of their detritus through paid classified ads. Nowadays, many of us resort to complimentary blurbs on sites like Kijiji. Skimming that site's listings prompts swift conclusions about the people behind the goods on offer. It's stimulating entertainment for us virtual shut-ins, I can tell you that.
What to say, for instance, about the listing for "Goalie pads, Block & Catcher, EXCELLENT condition"? I'm no hockey expert, but it seems logical that the better the goalie, the more battered his pads.
And I ask you, what kind of human cornflake advertises in the pet section "Adult Female Small & Furry Mouse"? This particular vendor advises that the pet is "hand tame" (ew!) and "loves shoulder rides" (quintuple ew!), adding that the rodent's age is unknown since it was a "stray." A stray mouse was called "vermin" the last time I looked. A stray mouse that liked shoulder rides was called "toast" the time I looked before that.
I find it strange that people with severely limited language skills advertise on Kijiji without getting a literate friend to act as editor. "I have a male red factor canary for sale $65 dollars," writes one apparently frazzled vendor. "singing not stop. last year bird."
Reading between the lines, I gather that if this bird does not shut up and get the hell out of the vendor's house, this will be its last year, if not its last hour. You don't have to be a neurosurgeon to figure that one out, and once you're wise to the sub-text, who'd volunteer to take Twitterbox the Canary off this poor sap's hands?
"Pets" may actually be the weirdest Kijiji section. In addition to the motley assortment of dogs on offer, from confused-sounding "Newfundland pups from Poland" to "teacup-sized Morkies" and "adorable Choodles," whatever those may be, what about the dog owner who's hawking "pink dog rain jacket"? Who buys a pink dog? Worse, if the dog itself is not pink, who buys a jacket to make a dog look pink? I've always thought the great thing about dogs is how pink they aren't.
But mysteries arise from other sections of Kijiji, too. I can't help but feel for the fellow who purchased the "Women's SWISS ARMY Mountaineer Model (watch) - Never Used." It's my guess that he helpfully presented it to his gal to correct her habitual tardiness (that's what you get for dating an engineer, dear) and received, for his pains, a death stare, a watch flung un-neutrally at his head, and, moments later, an abbreviated Dear John text.
One man's cast-off may well be another man's harbinger of doom. The other month, somebody on Kijiji was trying to unload an "antique Sythe," by which I expect he meant scythe. "And it works," wrote its proud owner, possibly one Mr. Death.
It's important to read the whole ad, because it often addresses the question of why the item is up for grabs. "Formal Dress - never worn, size 2" sounds like the tragic end to somebody's last wish until you see the explanation that says it was ordered online and arrived too late for prom. No excuse is necessary, however, for the listed "H & M Crochet Shorts - never worn."
The "help wanted" section of Kijiji is especially intriguing. All manner of folks advertise here. I like the sound of the Coquitlam vendor who writes sternly that he/she needs a bathroom renovated.
"(This) includes taking down a wall. Only those people who are very good at their job may apply, as I am very particular about the finished product," says this hyper-perfectionist, who obviously won't put up with your taking down all four walls and claiming it was an accident. Damn, I thought I'd scored myself a gig.
As a lark, I recently answered one unnamed magazine's ad for freelance writers that, as usual, did not mention how pathetically little its assignments pay. It's always good for a bitter laughing fit when the editor responds that his publication can't fork over any dineros at all right now, since it's just getting started, so he wonders if you'd be content with a byline in this totally obscure rag, or blithely replies that it pays $7 for 500 words but professional writers can make a good living by writing 10-15 such stories a day.
Frankly, I'd rather work for the optometrist's office that advertised a couple of months ago for a "Reptionist." The successful candidate's chief attribute was supposed to be "Attention to detail."
The most entertaining ads on Kijiji are in the category marked "TV, media and fashion jobs." I wonder if our high school guidance counsellors are aware of the urgent need for dominatrices wishing to launch careers in film.
"Yet another opportunity missed for yours truly," I sigh, and flick back to see if anybody's purchased the scythe.