If anyone were to give you a horse, would you peer all the way past its teeth to check for, I don't know, human heads?
I only ask because a site called ItemNotAsDescribed.com (tagline: Free is a Four-Letter Word) has dedicated itself to examining some of the free offers on Craigslist. Specifically, the site exists to expose the worst of the free in the Land of the Free.
For example, from Tucson's Craigslist come some book shelves, which have seen better days but clearly can't remember them. The ad for the shelves declares: "in the alley by the dumpster is a utility shelf made of wood for free. Someone left it there - please dont inquire - just come and get it."
The ItemNotAsDescribed poster adds: "For storing your least valuable possessions - the ones you're openly hostile towards. 'Here you go, fourth-place trophy, 2008 Fourth of July Chili Cook-Off. Enjoy your new home [mumbles obscenities]'."
Perhaps, though, you'd prefer these smashed-up ceramic tiles from the Humboldt Craigslist? Advertised as: "About 150 broken tan colored ceramic tiles that would be great for art projects," they look a little, well, utterly useless.
The ItemNotAsDescribed contributor puts it far more elegantly: "Strangely, the artworld has not yet recognized your genius. Keep trying. Place these tiles in a heavy plastic bag and throw them away. Made the cover of ArtForum, yet?"
The contributor, as so many on this delightful site, continues in eloquence: "At the very least, you will be helping this poster with her performance art project. She tries to get people to come over and take out her trash, to demonstrate human gullibility. You are her first victim. Sorry, I mean, collaborator."
The site even has categories that might help you sift through these worst of the free offers according to your predilections: "Classy", "Delicious" and "Spooky" are just three of the subsections.
Perhaps my favorite is this most delicious offer from the Bay Area's Craigslist: Gerber Cereal for Infants.
You might wonder why someone might give away baby food for free on Craigslist. Well, the advertiser is very open about the flaws in these wares: "One expired on Sept 08 the other Nov 08. But they still have the cellophane on them."
The ItemNotAsDescribed poster is effusive in his good fortune at discovering such a multi-layered bargain: "Sweet, they still have the cellophane on them. Something for the baby to play with after we've fed him long-expired food."
It almost makes those most generous posters who, earlier this week, used Craigslist to try to sell their free tickets to the Michael Jackson memorial seem like altruists. Almost.