Free For All

I’m pretty careful with my money.

While I’m not quite as bad as my grandma, who if you will remember kept large Ziploc bags in the freezer full of ketchup and mustard packets from various fast food establishments that always gave out “free condiments,” I do rinse out Ziplocs on occasion and budget my money appropriately.

Some people buy Prada, I buy produce.

And although I like getting a break on things when I can, people today seem obsessed with getting free stuff. I’ve seen people practically trample each other for a free unknown sample at the grocery store, a pen at an expo or a three-hour old hot dog shot out of a weenie gun at a hockey game.

They don’t know why they want it, but it’s free!

While I used to be one who got excited for free things regardless of whether or not I had any use for them, I really couldn’t care less at this point. If it’s a great deal, of course I’ll run over the elderly and small children to get it. But if it’s something I can simply buy for myself if I really want it, I figure I don’t need more junk.

Which brings me to this couch in my neighbor’s driveway.*


Now if you’re someone who picks up used furniture that has been sitting outside in February for three days in the driveway of a complete stranger, I apologize in advance, but what the hell is wrong with you?

Let’s pretend you’re not picking it up to donate to a good cause somewhere because that makes me sound like a witch, and instead work under the assumption that you want a couch for the rec room and thought this would work out.

After all, it’s winter and garage sales are scarce. Plus, it’s free!

Yes, it is free, and it’s probably harboring the bodily fluids of various people and animals, along with the Ebola virus and several species of undiscovered flesh eating bacteria.

None of that is confirmed of course, but it’s a rather safe assumption.

Kitchen tables and chair, entertainment centers—basically anything that isn’t covered in fabric that can absorb the aforementioned disgustingness is safe and I can kind of understand the appeal of it’s freeness.

But a rogue couch on the side of the road? Unless you’re planning on stripping it down to the foundation and reupholstering the dang thing, that’s like picking up a hitchhiker 20 miles out from a prison.

Just like eating a three hour old hot dog shot out of a weenie gun, that’s not the best idea, my friend.

I understand that I’m a bit biased seeing as how I love my couch more than a normal person should,  but I would rather sit on a cold cement floor every day for the rest of my life than expose any part of my flesh to a used couch picked up on the side of the road.

Call me a snob, but just don’t make me sit on that couch.

*Right as I was taking this picture, the neighbor pulled into his driveway. So if anyone asks, I sent you a picture of this couch to see if you were interested in taking it home. But if you really are interested in taking it home, remind me never to visit your house…or at least sit on your furniture. 

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39 responses to “Free For All

  1. I understand how its dirty and disgusting, but as someone who will soon need a couch (and other furniture) of her own when she moves out of a shared apartment in a few months…i kind maybe see a little bit of the appeal. Don’t hate me.

  2. I manage Campus Housing at a college. We fought bedbugs in two housing buildings about 18 months ago. The worst infestations were in and around rooms with furniture we’re pretty sure got picked up off the side of the road or from next to a dumpster. BEWARE of free furniture, people.

  3. I think the human brain is programmed to go berserk at the sight of free stuff.
    My dad stopped his car once in the middle of traffic, and made me get out to get a 5 gallon bucket on the side of the road. Although to be fair, buckets are very useful.

  4. I grew up in an environment of cheap dudes. Both sets of my grandparents were children of alcoholic depression era farmers. They knew poverty. we didn’t eat out a lot growing up. My parents learned their parents’ lessons.

    That being said, I don’t get Goodwill shopping, garage sales, and used anything, except automobiles. It’s other people’s crap, they don’t want. To use a baseball analogy, why do you want to sign the guy who couldn’t get your teams players out?

  5. StoriesAndSweetPotatoes

    Yes, no thank you to anything free on the side of road that contains material. Uck. In high school my friends and I picked up a free armchair and deposited on our friend’s lawn in the middle of the night. I still feel gross for touching it but it was hysterical..and maybe illegal.

  6. Amen!
    And please tell me who in the name of Blues Clues is buying a used mattress off of Craig’s List? I think any mattresses or couches should be labeled a biohazard when you’re done with them and disposed of properly, not handed off to spread whatever microscopic bugs you picked up sleepwalking through the mystical land of questionable hygiene.

  7. I was going to bring up the bed bugs, but I can see Buff beat me to it.

    My husband and I live on a semi-busy street and he puts everything out there. I always say, “No one will take those wooden canvas frames with no canvas, or that broke ass old bike without a seat, or that busted up mirror.”

    But within a half hour, everything is gone. Gone. Hauled off by gypsies and college students, I guess. Bonus points for me: Apparently I do recycle.

  8. I *love* putting stuff out by the road…I time how long it will actually sit there…I put a vacuum cleaner out that just needed a new belt and it was gone within 30 min.

    • I’m with you. We put everything out for people to take. A few weeks ago, I put out a non-working baby bouncy seat. By the time I walked back the half block to my house, I could see it was already gone. It’s like some people have freedar.

  9. what a joke. i mean, it doesn’t even have an ottoman or matching pillows.

  10. Sage advice. My boyfriend’s brother picked up a couch for his frat house one time and they all got scabies from it. Not that they probably didn’t deserve it. The state university here is also having a bedbug epidemic. They are warning people not to shack, for fear they catch the bedbug STD. I bet bedbugs like to hide in free couches, too.

  11. I agree Abby! Even when I was poor I would rather not have any furniture than to take possession of someone else’s couch, mattress, comforter or old shoes.

    We recently put a very old, very broken vacuum out with the trash, it didn’t last 3 hours….while I love freee stuff I’m glad my DNA doesn’t push me to pick up everything “free” in 5 mile radius. 😉

  12. I don’t know what it is about LA (or maybe just the neighborhood where I live) but everyone’s been putting their used furniture out for the taking. Weird and most of it is super creepy. Waiting for the day someone just leaves a suitcase full of money. I’m sure they don’t have much use for it anyhow.

    • You could probably find some good stuff in L.A. if you went to the right neighborhood. I still wouldn’t pick up furniture, but an unmarked suitcase or a piece of celebrity toast that I could put on eBay might be feasible…look into that, okay? We’ll split the profits.

  13. I don’t know how anyone can take a couch from the side of the road. I imagine it left overnight, getting all damp and then stinking like mold. Gross.

  14. Only because I’m such a germaphobe, but I don’t think I’d ever roll with used furniture. Maybe from my parents… in which case I totally did take their old couches when I moved out. But I draw the line at random street couches. What am I, a gypsy?

  15. They used to call those riot couches in Boulder, CO. Old couches sit on the front porches for lounging during the entire school year, then in spring – as everyone was moving out – those front porch couches often got set on fire…and there were all the kids running all over the streets partying…..I know, insane…

  16. In the UK, if you leave your furniture outside because you no longer want it, it’s called ‘Fly Tipping’.

    I would NEVER EVER take home a couch that I found on the side of the road. What if there was a dead body inside it? Because this happens, I’ve seen it on tv programmes.

  17. This never made sense to me. How about the bed bug issue? Have people forgotten about that. They are finding them in wood. You think it’s a cleanable surface and then you find out you’re screwed. I am a germaphobe too. Being out at the barn all the time has helped this immensely. But, in my house? No way.

  18. I am sorry, but I would pick this up, clean it off, and give it to one of the many starving artists I date. They would finally have something to sleep on.

    • No need to apologize! Like I said, to each their own and I think giving it to someone who needed it is a great idea. For me personally, I know there are only a few things I spend my money on, and instead of fancy clothes, I would choose a couch that hasn’t been sitting outside for three days in the rain. 😉

  19. I love that you got busted taking the photo! I wouldn’t want a used couch either. I just read an article about how parasites in cat poop can make people schizophrenic (I saw it on Facebook, it must be accurate). What if the previous couch owners have a cat!?!?

    • Even if they didn’t, the darn thing was outside for at least two days. I don’t know anything about parasites in raccoon or opossum poop, but I can’t imagine they’re magical.

  20. When we moved to our current house, my solution for anything I didn’t feel like packing was to throw it out on the lawn with a sign that said “Free.” Two hours later, almost everything was gone. And we didn’t live on a busy road. My husband calls it the “If it’s free, I’ll take three” mentality.

  21. We were at a thrift store this past weekend, and in the store, which sells things to make a profit, was a couch with a big sign that said “Free – Please Take Me!” A cushion was missing. I can’t imagine what must have been in and on that missing cushion.

  22. While I’m a well-known ho for free stuff, even I have my standards. What goes to the curbs stays at the curb as far as I’m concerned.

  23. Melanie The Spork Lover

    I own a second hand couch that looks straight off the set of Good Times or Archie Bunker. I cleaned it when I got it home. It’s really not any better than grabbing a couch off the side of the road, when you buy a lot at thrift stores or antique shops. I don’t know why my issues don’t make it impossible for me to buy used furniture, but I’m glad they don’t. If they did, I wouldn’t be able to get any real mid-century modern decor for my home, and that would bum me out.

  24. This was the best start to my day. Specifically this line: “that’s like picking up a hitchhiker 20 miles out from a prison.” I’ll keep that in mind when I drive in a 20 mile radius of any prison and get the inkling to pick up some lost souls on the side of the road. But maybe if they carried free packets of ketchup in a ziplock bag I might let them come along for the ride.

  25. Okay, this is gross, but whenever I see furniture like that out by the curb I think of the movie Juno. And then I think, “someone had sex on that.” And then I’m done.

  26. Never mind the price,I have to admit I’m not too keen on the fabric choice so I’d probably give it a miss. At the same time, I like to keep a fairly open house but that doesn’t mean all germs are welcome

  27. I love a good deal too. But you could not PAY me to take that a rogue couch on the side of the road! Ewwww.

  28. My neighbor once pulled a ‘perfectly good’ mattress out of a dumpster. I was disgusted.

  29. Bahahaha! In college, I lived in a neighborhood full of students. So around May and August (big move dates) people would seriously patrol the area in trucks for free shit.
    And one year, as my roommate and I were dragging a big sleeper sofa to the curb, our neighbors stopped us and took it off of our hands. I have no idea why they would want it. It was being dragged to the curb for a reason.

  30. When I was in undergrad, some guy friends of mine picked up a free couch on the side of the road. Now, we were about 20 so a little more of a pass for them. But.

    It had fleas.

    So, yes, I concur with this post.

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