Help Wanted

I think I’m developing a dependance on classified ads.

I trawl their polluted waters obsessively looking for things that could make my life better. That bookshelf I need…that kitchen shelf I need…a new flat? A sublet for a friend…a job with a reliable income…

I don’t look for love online. Not yet at least. I still attach a stigma to it. Shelving: yes/ companionship: no. I prefer the thought of a lonely future to the cold clamminess of online romance. I like people to come recommended. I don’t take easy to strangers; but that’s another story…suffice to say ‘the devil you know…‘ will always be preferable to the devil who sent you a fake photo and lives in his parents’ basement.

Now that I’m looking for a new flat I find that I check Craigslist and Immobilienscout24.de obsessively, the way someone might tap their foot on the floor while doing something else. My fingers automatically type their htmls into the address bar if I hesitate for even a moment, forgetting what I originally wanted to do online.

I know that part of the reward feeling comes from the fact that it’s a hunt, essentially. If I get there early enough, if I am diligent enough checking the listings–if I relentlessly chase the wildabeast that is my new flat as it darts away from me across the plains and force it eventually into the river so that I can leisurely trawl the banks waiting for it to tire and swim back to shore, exhausted–if I do all that then I will be rewarded with a fat, tender flat for dinner.
Yes, it’s rough out here on the classified plains.

When I’ve exhausted the flat search I amble almost without thinking over to the furniture listings. I’ve needed another bookshelf for about six months now–I just keep waiting; waiting for the right one to expose itself in a vulnerable moment. When that happens I will leap upon it–unrelenting in my courteousness as I inquire as to it’s availability. When it comes to classifieds, I shoot to kill.

I have helped friends coming through Berlin find their sublets on several occasions. I react to their requests for help like a police dog given a scent to follow. They may or may not choose to go with one of the flats with which I present them, but they acknowledge my diligence. A pat on the head, that’s all I ask.

Last weekend I realized that the hunter and hunted had changed sides. A listings poacher had me in his sights.

The man was advertising an unusually reasonably-priced flat in my neighborhood, and referred in his ad to specific features of the area that only someone who has spent time around here would know. I answered his ad and asked to see the flat, at which point he tried to hustle me into an agreement and asked that I send the first month’s rent to him in England where he claimed his ‘church’ had been moved as he and his family were ‘missionaries.’ He wanted it sent by Western Union (poor little Western Union–their business is a byword for thievery if ever there was one!)
Best of all, when I wrote to clarify that I would neither agree to anything nor pay any money before I’d had the chance to see the flat in person, he chided me for being sceptical of him. Flowery paragraphs waxed poetic on thievery as anathema to him as a ‘Man of God‘ and one who understood ‘how hard people work for their money‘ at that. In a nice little dig, doubtless intended to shake my confidence in the matter, he intimated that a person who finds herself unable to trust another betrays a lack of ability to trust herself!

Unfortunately for him, I wasn’t looking for a spiritual counsellor. Politely omitting mention of his variously flawed logic; spelling; and approach to business & thieving I ended the correspondance by telling him I’d found somewhere else to live. I even wished him and his family all the best in England. When you walk the mean streets of the classifieds, I find it pays to play nice. Every bear knows that you catch more flies with honey…than…your gaping jaws lined with sharp bear-teeth I guess. Really I’ve never heard that expression finished.

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One Comment on “Help Wanted”

  1. slt Says:

    FYI: ….more flies with honey than…VINEGAR (unless, of course, one is using a really fine vinegar…)but frankly who wants to catch flies in any case?? Maybe this expression originated with the first environmentally conscious exterminator. Honey vs. DDT….
    slt


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