Too Good To Be True

I was searching for a dining room table on Craig’s List and came across a beauty that fit all of our criteria. AND it was new. AND it was priced at 75% of the retail price, which was still a hefty chunk of change.

When I inquired, the seller came back with an enthusiastic email filled with salesy gratitude and an offer to deliver the table for free. He told me he was a former furniture dealer who got things through liquidations and sold them for cheap “in order to stay busy and to give people some happiness.”

Naturally, I thought it was a scam.

Another scenario… this time, a vacation rental. We’d found our spot, exchanged the money and then the owner wanted to refund us because he could no longer rent the place due to legislative changes. He offered to help us find another rental and sent us a link in an email to a friend with a rental in the exact same layout in a different unit in the same building. This “friend” offered a hugely discounted rate “because I was in a tough situation and he wanted to help.” He suggested I make my payment in full immediately through a private portal, unaffiliated with any of those apps we all know.

Under the stress of scrambling to find a place, I complied and sent in my credit card info. (I’m sure some of you are gasping right now!). A few days later, I came to my senses and spent the better part of the morning searching for evidence that this wasn’t a scam.

Two scenarios where goodwill is offered willingly and without request for reciprocation and my reaction is that it’s too good to be true.

This greatly saddens me and points at how our hearts have darkened, how we live in fear of losing what we have instead of living in the joy of giving what others need. In this globally connected online world of faceless identities and email aliases, every piece of communication can be a lie, and, as we’re learning, these lies are dangerous as hell.

So we protect ourselves and our valuables, even if it means pushing away the goodwill of others. Better safe than sorry.

I followed suit and questioned everything. Rather than basking in the glow a good act between strangers, I tore them apart to see if I could find the blackness inside.

Well, the Craig’s List guy arrived with the table and gave me another discount on the spot. The vacation rental person checked out too.

So I can take down my walls now and hug the sweaty Craig’s List guy. And send gushy emails to the generous couple renting their home to me as well as the original renter who found them for me in a pinch.

I just wish that first step wasn’t necessary. The distrust, the double-checking, the web scam searches… It seems imperative these days as the world gets more digitally connected and less physically connected, that we surround our festivals with metal detectors and scan our love letters for biochemical warfare.

It’s all about keeping us safe.

But we lose something in that holding tank of safety, in that moment before acceptance, when Love is held hostage and Goodwill is strip-searched.

It’s a violation like no other, a trampling of sacred ground, the destruction of a harvest, carried out by the ones who are starving.