When ‘free’ does not mean free: A craigslist tale

No, this isn’t a righteous screed about freedoms being impugned or any such heavyweight subject matter. It’s about what happened to a Hayward resident who put out various items he wanted to give away, then posted an ad on craigslist. A fellow reporter stumbled across the resulting secondary ad and sent it my way, I got a chuckle out of it and maybe you will, too:

** PLEASE RETURN OUR “FREE” SIGN **(hayward / castro valley)

freesignDate: 2011-03-31, 10:47AM PDT
Reply to: xxxxxxx@craigslist.org


We posted more free items out front of our home the past couple of days  and someone has taken our FREE sign.

This was not intended to be part of the FREE items and we would  like it returned.

I’m sure this was a misunderstanding to someone.

We post many MANY many things on Craigslist for FREE and this sign is instrumental for this cause.

We ask that you return our sign to the front of our home, no questions asked.

xxxxx Monte Vista Dr.
Hayward, 94545
Thank You,

ps. please don’t flag this posting. I’m sure the person that took the sign visits regularly and would need for them to see it.

Eric Kurhi

  • Michael Moore


    There is a special place for folks who do not understand what it is that they said or wrote. I am tickled that you have posted this type of human interest in HayWord. Well done. PG and E, EBMUD, Oro Loma and various other portions of the community infrastucture may soon be contributing their barrier to a private citizen as a collateral tax loss to the citizens of the community. The good lord knows that there are a bunch on Mission at times, just ripe for the picking and subsequent painting.

  • Sherry Blair

    Michael, I know you say what you mean, but I am not as confident that I read it the way you mean it. Are you saying that the guy whose sign was stolen didn’t make it himself but stole it?

    I liked the article too, Eric. Here in Hayward, in spite of all attempts to make laws that actually get in the way of people sharing, this is a story of our healthy underground economy – neighbor giving to neighbor. (and the down side of neighbor stealing from neighbor) I think the old ways of sharing and cooperating with each other instead of making laws to control each other will return in the future.

    In my neighborhood as well as others, there were always generous people who gave in this way. There were people who recylcled too, long before we had Waste Management contracts and laws that were made to limit people’s freedom to colllect things and recycle. Kids and other people used to make a living doing this service and the neighbors received the benefit of those interactions and conversations. Now we have laws that cut off ordinary people from this avenue of self support.

    Personally I love the people who pick up stuff from my house, both Waste Management people and the scavengers that still frequent my bins. Why can’t we have both? Why do the big guys always dominate the little people? Why do we have to make laws that limit other people who want to do the work in a manner that leaves a smaller footprint! Why do we need to de-humanize the neighborhoods in that way. Have you ever tried to have a conversation with the guy who drives the WM trucks? They don’t have time. They’re on schedules. That’s how we became strangers to each other.

    Readers may be interested in this site that has a lot of participation in Castro Valley:


  • Michael Moore

    Sherry, I am glad you pointed out the issue. I have no way of knowing if the person made or did not make the Free Items sign that was stolen. I did say that I would not be surprised if another sign was stolen and repainted, though I do not know who would do such a thing. If the person who had the sign made it and replaced it with another sign also made, I applaud the work and diligence. Future steps will likely include a chain and lock so as not to have to build a third.

    In my neighborhood we have a swap meet informally when the group decides it has enough stuff to sell or give away. The funds generally support refreshments and future good ideas.

  • Sherry Blair

    I am very interested in all you have told me about your neighborhood. I would like to know more. Sharing ideas with you group could really help my efforts in my own neighborhood.

    The parent coordinator at Burbank school helped the parents get a mini- flea market together in the parking lot. It was a huge success, but when the parents wanted to repeat the effore, the coordinator didn’t have the time. So much for school community partnership. I would like to improve on that.

  • Michael Moore

    Sherry, contact me by email. If you do not have the address, indicate that and I will post one for you to contact me at.

  • Sherry Blair

    I don’t have it.

  • Michael Moore
  • Sherry Blair