Hey, It’s Free!

One of the very many perks of living on or near a base is definately PCS season.

Ah, yes.  PCS Season.  Otherwise known as, "I’m 700 pounds over my weight limit and desperately need to downsize" season.  For those of us not PCSing, it is also known as "Second Christmas."

Many’s the time in my over 10 years as a military wife that I’ve found items that I absolutely COULD NOT fathom being without before I stand before the Throne of God and account for my life.  I never knew how unfulfilled I was without that papa-san frame, but when I saw it sitting conveniently on the curb across from my house I realized that it was what my life had been missing.  Ditto for the particle board tv stand and the three pedal cars my son spent an entire summer enjoying.

So when we moved away from base, I had to find a way to assuage my guilt at just throwing perfectly good items away and also score some neat free stuff I never knew I was missing.

I joined the local Freecycling list.  And I had no idea what I was getting into.

First, I have to comment on the sheer volume of people emailing about stuff offered, stuff taken, stuff wanted, and stuff received.  As an example – last weekend Air Force Family went for a hike and were gone about 5 hours total.  When I came home, I had NINETY SEVEN emails in my gmail in-box listing various items in various stages of offering.  NINETY SEVEN!  In one day!  In one HALF a day!  Where was all this stuff coming from!

The second thing I noticed about the Freecycling list was the absolute speed in which it moves.  Speed of sound my large-hind-end!  Star Trek has nothing on these people, who must have email accounts powered by dilithium crystals.  More than once I’ve replied to an email that appeared as I was online, only to be told the item had already been taken.

So, what they were telling me was this:  in the five minutes since they realized that item had to go, they posted it, someone responded, and they underwent an exchange about a pick up time?  I mean, things are this intense for a pair of child’s dress up pom-poms that are missing handles!  I haven’t had the guts to try for one of the larger, more prestigious items like the Ginsu knife (only one, not a set) or the stack of Dora the Explorer VHS tapes.

But what got to me most of all was not the volume of stuff being offered, since I’m used to sudden surges of stuff appearing curbside.  Nor was it the list speed, since we’ve all had our moments when you race the across-the-street neighbor for that plastic bin sitting in front of PCS Neighbor’s house.

No, it was some of the things being offered. 

Now, I’m not hoity-toity – I love good hand-me-downs as well as the next person.  If I could find someone with kids two years older and growing at the same rate as my own kids to hand clothes down, I would be in heaven.  I LOVE a good free deal.

But I have to admit that I was more than a little grossed out when the Venus Razor (with unopened package of blades!) was offered.  I mean, really.  I’m just not ready to take someone else’s leg shaver.  At least, I hope it was only shaving legs.  It was all mental pictures I just did not want to deal with before mealtime. 

Someone actually took it.

I thought that might be an isolated incident.  I mean, never in my life have I seen someone sifting through curbside base trash to squeal in triumph at finding a Schick. 

Then I saw the listing for a box of Insteads.  Don’t know what Insteads are?  Well, let’s just say that they are an alternative method of keeping white pants clean.  Someone gave them away.  And SOMEONE TOOK THEM.

THAT is dedication to protecting landfills, right there.  I can honestly say that the thought of recycling my Insteads never crossed my mind.

Then, yesterday, I was hit with the coup de grace.  Someone was giving away a box of Vagistat.  Yes, THAT Vagistat.  Apparently it was bought and could not be used – I don’t really know.  I was afraid to look further. 

Let me tell you all, I thought that I was the Maestro of Curb Shopping, the Sultan of Scavenge, the Queen of all Recycling…

But I have nothing, NOTHING on the dedication of the people on this freecycling list.

I think I will just sit back and observe with awe.

About the Author


airforcewife started her military journey as an Army National Guard wife, but upon experiencing base housing decided to aim high and made the switch to the Air Force. That's worked pretty well for Air Force Family so far, even though airforcewife holds the spouse world record for Come to Jesus talks with various members of the command.

Air Force Family has four children, two pit bulls, and a Mother-in-Law who lost her mind eight years ago. Despite the reputation of pit bulls, airforcewife would like to assure you that her Mother-in-Law is truly the most dangerous of the group, and is banned in more places than the dogs.

airforcewife gets through Air Force Guy's frequent deployments and TDY's by frequently attending her boxing gym, after the chance discovery last deployment that hitting things really does make life better. She also volunteers as the Ambassador for Sew Much Comfort to Bethesda National Naval Medical Center and in a variety of other causes throughout the year.

airforcewife has no idea what the future holds, but decided five years ago that she wants to be Andi when she grows up.

10 Comments on "Hey, It’s Free!"

  1. I am like you. Free great, but there are limits and I think you hit mine one blog post ago….. LOL

  2. Semper Fi Wife | February 25, 2008 at 8:35 am |

    I'm going to have to subscribe just for the entertainment factor..
    plus I had to google "Insteads" because I didn't know what the heck they were.
    Two reasons…entertainiment AND education.

  3. Razors & Insteads? Ew! I've seen used make-up listed before too. At least they aren't charging for it like I've seen on eBay, Craigslist, and MySpace. They definately have some interesting and entertaining finds though.

  4. I love freecycle, but I've never seen posts for the crazy stuff you see. I'm going to have to join your group just for the horrors. Oh, yeah, and the education.
    I'm currently in borderline trouble for announcing to DH's unit that we are accepting free stuff. We're going to be running two households for nearly a year and, well, if you're just going to throw it away…
    I think he was less than pleased.

  5. I moderate one of the two freecycle groups here near Ft. Riley, KS. I actually left the actual "Ft. Riley/Junction City" group because it was way too overwhelming, the sheer amount of 'Offer: baby cloths, cleen' that I saw (yes, that is the way things were spelled). And the 'offer: dog, we are pcs'ing and don't want to take him'.
    Sadly, the majority of stuff I saw on the POST freecycle group were pet offers and people begging for stuff.
    The group I moderate doesn't allow pets…or medicines of any kind (even OTC stuff). And believe me, we see some CRAZY stuff out there. We have a "serial poster"…she belongs to EVERY freecycle group in the state of Kansas (as well as some in western Missouri, southwestern Iowa and southeastern Nebraska)…she drives us ALL nuts.
    But I have to say, I LOVE freecycle. After the bi-annual post yard sales (I don't LIVE there, but I do get to put my stuff at a friend's house, lol), I ALWAYS put up a post on freecycle, offering my "yardsale leftovers…must take all, freecycle what you don't want". I recently saw a DVR offered…and a Gamecube (no games, but all controllers). I managed to snag my hubby some brand new, with tags, PT shorts and t-shirts. This weekend alone, I gave away a practically new denim shirt with a Steelers logo (wrong size…WAY too big), and a worn-only-once Brooks & Dunn Concert T-shirt. And a bag of assorted t-shirts (rags? work shirts? Who knows!). I also just picked up a really good tripod for my camera.
    It most certainly DOES pay off, so to speak. But there are some basic rules that have to be followed.
    Oh…and one of my biggest pet peeves of our group…we have one woman who posts monthly:
    OFFER: Food
    "It's that time of month again! I have several gallons of milk and dozens of eggs…some containers of Peanut Butter, bags of beans, packages of cheese…will divide for a few people who REALLY need it".
    It burns my toast that I know…I JUST KNOW this woman is giving away WIC items. And what burns me most is that there are FAMILIES who don't qualify for WIC (by only a few dollars…don't ask me how I know about THAT!) and who could use it, but here's a woman who qualifies for it and is giving it away. While it's a nice idea that she might actually be helping someone out, I highly doubt the people responding are honest enough to need it. But worst of all? IT is ILLEGAL to do what she's doing. Only, I can't prove it…and I can't remove her, even though I've talked to the other moderators…but they say we have no way to prove it….I don't know…I think it's wrong.
    but hey…stay with your freecycle…you might just get a palm pilot (one of my first "snags" when I was with Freecycle in Augusta, GA!)

    • I don't know who moderates the group now but I get nothing but spam from it. Mostly porn stuff. It's horrible.

  6. In Norfolk housing there was a woman with three kids who was on WIC and her kids ate nothing but the bread and she would give the rest to a co-worker of her husband she was "interested" in. He was a seaman living off the ship so had little money, he was interested in her free food but not in her. Still every time she would get he checks he would get BAGS of groceries.
    She claimed all three kids wanted nothing but bread and butter, that they wouldn't eat anything moist or anything more substantial. However, when they ate at our house they would eat tons of whatever you put in front of them. Soup, Goulash, Roast, you name it! At the time I was raising my ex-husband's two children (before our divorce)and they used to play together. I have had women who are on WIC offer to give me milk and eggs and cereal and such but I won't take it. No matter how low my husband's rank has been from the time he started we have never been in financial straights, I don't feel it's right to take the WIC if A) you aren't entitled to it and B) you don't need it to make ends meet.
    I wish there was a better way for the to police if women are just giving it away, selling it or passing it off to their boytoys. lol.

  7. also on the freecycle idea, lol.. there was a woman back when i was in norfolk who gave away her ex husbands new mustang on there. he rufused to come get it off her lawn and it had passed the time he was allot to remove it so, hahah someone got real lucky. We furnished my current husband's first apt (before we were married) completely between freecycle and bulk trash day in base housing. LOL.

  8. Semper Fi Wife | February 25, 2008 at 11:21 am |

    This was pre-internet and pre-Freecycle but I traded an old vacuum cleaner I had for a large dresser. I used it for my girls until they got new furniture. We still have that dresser in the garage and it holds tools and gardening supplies.
    I love good deals!!

  9. You can always report it to the state WIC office. It is illegal to barter, sell, or give away WIC items for any reason and it's basically defrauding the program and tax payers. I know a lot of people do it though and the excuse is always "I don't need it, my kids won't eat it, etc etc" Well there is no rule that says they HAVE to get all the items on their checks, at least in my state. If you've got 20 lbs of cheese and 4 jars of peanut butter just get what you do need and leave the rest. I'm all for WIC, I think it's a great program but it's not fair that people get away with abusing the program.
    Anyway, our freecycle group had a listing today for veggie cheese, boca burgers, and a George Foreman grill combo pack…anyone still hungry for lunch?

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