Craigslist’s now defunct adult services section‘s making for lots of controversial headlines this week, but I’m writing to praise a less controversial, more plain vanilla Craigslist category: Free.

Free is my favorite section of Craigslist — though I’ve never used it to acquire stuff. A child of pack rat personality types, I grew up into a huge fan of minimalist, simple living — and really, really enjoy getting rid of things, so long as I avoid sending them to the landfill. That means I’ve used both Craigslist and Freecycle (locally renamed LAReuseIt) to divest my apartment of hundreds of pounds of stuff over the years — and this includes stuff I never thought people might actually want, even for free.

Among the not-sellable items I’ve given away are a near-antique answering machine (you know, the kind that used a good old fashioned cassette tape), used name badge holders, and, last weekend, a device that stretches out calf muscles. I’d gotten it from my doctor back when I had knee issues, and honestly didn’t think anyone would want the thing now. But about half a dozen people with tight calves emailed me within the next 24 hours!

The device ended up going to a nice woman called Angel, who’d had surgery on her leg and needed a device to help stretch out her muscles. She seemed so grateful when she stopped by to take the thing off my hands that the exchange really made my day.

But to this day, the strangest thing I’ve given away using online networks is an umbrella cover. That’s right — not the umbrella itself, but just the cover that fits over it. I’d lost the umbrella that went with it, and decided to offered the cover on Freecycle on a strange whim — and found another Angeleno who needed a cover for her umbrella!

What is the strangest thing you’ve given away or acquired using Freecycle or Craigslist?

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