Misha and the Samurai Sword: A Craigslist Tale

Not too long ago, Z was selling an item on Craigslist.  The guy who said he was going to buy it lived about forty-five minutes away.  We sent him an address for where we would meet him (a nearby parking lot--don't worry; we've heard about the Craigslist Killer) and commenced to wait for him to call upon arrival.   

An hour went by.  

We got a text saying traffic was rough.  We live in Southern California, so that was believable.  He expected it would take another forty-five minutes.  

Thirty minutes later, we got a text saying he was still on his way, but the 405 was a nightmare.  

Another thirty minutes later, he called to say he should arrive in fifteen minutes.  

"I heard cars in the background.  He was definitely on the road," Z noted when I looked skeptical.

He never showed up.  

No phone call.  No text.  He either changed his mind and went home or drove into that black hole on the 405.  Both are possible.

And you know what?  It really wasn't much of  a surprise.  We have the worst luck with Craigslist commerce.  

I know, I know.  You are thinking, Of course you have the worst luck with Craigslist, you idiot!  Everyone knows Craigslist is the where all of the people who don't know how to use ebay go.  How hard is it to use ebay?  

It's not hard to use ebay, but it can be expensive and annoying.  After ebay takes it's 10% cut of your profits and PayPal takes its 3% cut of your profits, 13% of what you made has gone out the window.  And you have to mail things, which requires going to the post office, which for us is like suggesting we fly to Croatia for the weekend.  So we are cheap and lazy and sometimes resort to Craigslist because we can keep all of the profits and demand that the buyer drive to us.  When it works out, it's great.  Craigslist once helped us get rid of a futon in six hours in exchange for a pepperoni pizza.  But we have had quite a few debacles, this most recent incident of our buyer getting swallowed by a tear in the fabric of space and time being one of them.  

But it isn't the most memorable.  

Speculation about what happened to this poor guy led to memories of all of the other weirdos we have encountered via Craigslist...which led to Misha.  Misha who wanted Z's laptop.

Please indulge me as I go back in time to February.  As diaper bills and baby bottles and powdered formula and tiny clothes started to add up, we decided to shed some excess belongings in exchange for cash.  Z put his laptop up for sale on Craigslist.  

A week later, we received this communication:

On Jan 30, 2014 3:05 PM, "Misha [******]"
<3cb9840ed3343259941b060dac7d74ba@reply.craigslist.org> wrote:

would you consider $125 and these items for your laptop, I really need a decent laptop as I'm building my new business and working on a tight budget. thank you
Misha :) 562-XXX-XXXX

~All in new condition~

*samurai sword
*woman's Al gin crystal heart watch *Never worn
*Win 7 AIO *32 bit and 64 bit  Every 7 ISO from home to Enterprise CD can be used on more than one computer with a lifetime key.
*Microsoft Office 2013 Pro Plus CD

When Z showed me the email, I scoffed.  Yet another Craigslist buyer trying to acquire objects with things other than money.  I suggested the following reply:

Dear Misha,

Thank you for your interest in our laptop.  It does an excellent job of capitalizing letters, using punctuation, and writing grammatically correct sentences, so I think it would be an excellent addition to your business venture.

I also work within the confines of a tight budget, so I understand your decision to pretend that we are bartering at an Egyptian street market.  

Our first sword is getting worn, so another one in "new condition" would really be a nice household addition.  The crystal heart watch is a nice touch, too.  My husband has been looking of one of those.  With the number of devices that can tell the time growing slimmer by the day, it certainly sounds more unique than cash, which is so boring and nonspecific in that we could spend it on anything.  

Since we are just negotiating with anything and everything right now, we have a counter offer.  In exchange for the items you listed and $125, we can offer you the following:

* The laptop cord
* A box of Twinkies 
* A men's tie (Never worn!)
* A Nerf pistol
* My husband's collection of Bad Religion cds

Here is my husband's actual reply:

On Fri, Jan 31, 2014 at 12:33 AM, craigslist 4312139577

<npqf4-4312139577@sale.craigslist.org> wrote:

> Hi Misha.  I would take the sword and $150.

> Z

"You would?!?" I said, incredulous.  

"Sure.  You never know when a sword might come in handy," Z replied. 

That woman is the luckiest Craigslist customer ever! you may be thinking to yourself.  A fairly new laptop for $150 and a samurai sword...that's more than fair.  Thankfully, she did recognize her good fortune in running across a seller with a penchant for martial arts weaponry, as she got back to us the very next day:

On Fri, Jan 31, 2014 at 1:19 AM, Misha wrote:

hi Z, thank you for responding with a more than fair deal, I would do it in a heartbeat but I'm embarrassed to say I only have the $125 cash  and that is my monthly mad money/food for the month. But maybe in the morning ill see what I can do to get up the rest.and make the deal..

thank you

Misha  :)

Naturally, this response raised several questions on my end.  Let's start with Misha's original declaration that this laptop was for the new business she was building.

1.)  She clearly did not have much start-up capital.  What kind of business was she starting in which the only expense she was struggling to cover was $150.00 for a laptop?  I would like to get in on that business.  Unless it involved taking off your clothes.  Then I would rather not.

2.)  Considering she sent her email on the last day in January, I assume that Misha meant that $125.00 was all that she had for fun and food for the entirety of February.  What was Misha going to eat for the month of February after dropping it all on a new-ish used laptop?  I kept picturing her panhandling in a dark alley in between blood and organ donations, which was the more ethical small business with low start-up costs I imagined, although it was dismal in terms of longevity.  

Misha selling organs in skid row.  I really was not sure which organs were least essential aside from the appendix (properly valued at ten dollars), and they are all shaped like pickles.  Upon further reflection, I'm pretty sure the liver should have been worth more than the kidney.

3.)  Perhaps most benign or disturbing (depending upon where your imagination takes you), what was she going to do in the morning to "get up the rest and make the deal"???  Did we need to warn her neighbors?

"Are you certain you want to conduct business with this woman?" I asked Z.  "She seems a little unstable.  And maybe a meth addict.  There is a very real chance she is a meth addict."

He shrugged.  "If it works out, I'd love to get that sword."

Okay.  I began to brainstorm a secret response to Misha.

Dear Misha,

Please just promise us that whatever you decide to do in the morning to get the extra $25 does not involve the samurai sword.  It's not worth it.



Misha shaking down a small child for his lunch, which I imagine she will later sell to some other kid whose mom packed hummus and carrot sticks.  Again.

Z said he never really expected to hear from her again, but lo and behold, in the morning we received this communication from her:

On Feb 1, 2014 9:25 AM, "Misha [*****]"
<3cb9840ed3343259941b060dac7d74ba@reply.craigslist.org> wrote:

hi z,
i have the $150 and sword do you still want to sell laptop to me?  I am in la habra where are you located?
when can we meet...
thank you

"What do you think she did to get the extra $25?" I asked.

"Beats me," Z shrugged.  

Unfortunately, Misha's luck seemed to turn as the day wore on.  Early in the afternoon, we received an email informing us that her car needed a jump start.  Several hours later, her situation had not improved:

On Sat, Feb 1, 2014 at 3:32 PM, Misha [******] <*****************@gmail.com> wrote:

Im sorry im still waiting on a jump for the car . I am serious about buying
it so hoping withinthe hour

I wanted so badly to offer Misha my copy of Strunk and White when she showed up "withinthe hour" to purchase the laptop.

"I can just wrap it in a brown paper bag and slip it under the monitor," I suggested to Z.  "It's like the lady behind the reception desk at Planned Parenthood who slips you a brown lunch bag full of condoms before you leave.  Very discrete"

"I think we should just let her get what she came for and leave without surreptitiously commenting on her grammar," Z replied.  "I really want this sale."

A little over two hours later, those dreams were dashed.

On Feb 1, 2014 5:40 PM, "Misha [*****]" <3cb9840ed3343259941b060dac7d74ba@reply.craigslist.org> wrote:

I must have been a bad girl in past llife or something , husband took keys to check if i really knew how to start the car???? and decided to go to store and lallygagged along the way hours later after my friend came and gone he comes back. so I'm waiting on her to come back, along with that his sons ex shows up with cops in toe, take her for a warrant and I'm now smiling at two children I don't even know.. and its looking like they have no where to go. but yeah waiting on a friend should be within the hour :)

Needless to say, Misha's latest update only deepened my intrigue.  She was beginning to give "The Most Interesting Man in the World" from the Dos Equis commercials a run for his money.  Once again, allow me to itemize my questions:

1.  Her husband took the keys to check if Misha"really knew how to start the car"-- a disturbing vote of no confidence from someone who married her.  But--it gets better--it turns out he must have been right because he then started the car and drove away.  And stayed away for hours.  

2.  She doesn't know how to use any form of punctuation correctly, how to separate the words "withinthe," or (apparently) how to start her own car...but Misha can appropriately use the word "lollygagging" in a sentence?  The incorrect spelling is definitely outweighed by the surprise factor.  

3.  If Misha's husband had already returned with her car (which apparently worked), why did she still need a ride?  I'm confused.

4.  When did Misha's friend suddenly become a character in this mini series, and why did Misha need to wait for her to return?  At first, I thought she was waiting for her friend to show up and give her a ride, but upon rereading, I realized her friend had already been there for hours while Misha's husband was gallivanting about town in her car, and her friend didn't offer her a ride.  Better question: what kind of crappy friend is that?   

5.  And now we arrive at the pinnacle point of her email, when Misha's husband's son's ex "shows up with cops in toe."  I--like you--assumed she meant "cops in tow," as in "Misha's husband's son's ex brought the cops to Misha's house."  It sounds like a pretty festive residence, so it is not outside of the realm of reasoning that someone in Misha's home has wronged this young lady to the point of legal grievance.  However, the cops summarily turn around and issue a warrant for arrest on the very woman who brought them to the house.  So now I am imagining she arrived at the conclusion of an elaborate chase, the cops right at her heels as they pursued on...toe.  What kind of sanctuary did Misha's husband's son's ex expect to find when she arrived at the house?  They obviously didn't even have a laptop where she could do a quick Google search for a reasonably priced lawyer.

"Cops in toe."

6.  The cops left Misha's husband's son's ex's children with people they had never met when after hauling their mother off to jail?  That's messed up.

7.  Always the optimist, Misha concludes that she is "waiting on a friend" and "should be [leaving to purchase her laptop?] within the hour."  Smiley face.  You've gotta love that about her.  A missing and temporarily stolen car she apparently didn't know how to start; a husband who times his shopping trips very poorly; an unexpected visit from the law; the sudden responsibility for several helpless, unfamiliar children; and Misha still plans to make it out to our house in the evening to purchase a laptop and begin her business venture.  As long as she can get a ride.

Despite my admiration for Misha's surprising grit, I was pretty sure I didn't want to conduct business with her any longer.  

I figured my husband would feel similarly, but I was mistaken.

From: Z******** <Z**********@gmail.com>
Date: Sat, Feb 1, 2014 at 7:14 PM
Subject: Re: Lenovo S10-3t convertible tablet win7 1.83ghz 2gb
To: Misha [*******] <3cb9840ed3343259941b060dac7d74ba@reply.craigslist.org>

Ok.   Let me know when.   I'm taking the baby for a walk.

"You told her we have a baby?" I gasped when I read Z's response.

"Yeah," he shrugged.  "What's wrong with that?"

"What if she is going to use the laptop to begin a black market child trafficking operation?"

Z looked at me until I grew uncomfortable.  "Where do you get this stuff?" he questioned.  "First of all, to say 'black market child trafficking' is redundant because there is no legitimate market for child trafficking.  Secondly, I doubt that Misha is looking for a laptop to begin a child trafficking business."   

"Oh really?" I fired back.  "Is that because you know her?"

"No," Z said slowly.  "It's because I am a rational person."

Our laptop in the hands of Misha: Peddler of Small Children.

"We'll see who was right.  Just wait," I said over my shoulder as I began packing Little A into her stroller and heading out the door.  

"Will we?  Will we ever see?" Z asked my back as it disappeared into the evening.  "Where are you going?"

"I'm taking the baby to Target so Misha can't steal her when she shows up with the samurai sword."

It probably goes without saying that Misha never actually showed up.  We never sold the laptop or acquired her gently used samurai sword.  She was a promising customer; thus, it was truly a disappointment.  

If you are in the market for a laptop, please let us know.  We would really like to send it to a stable home in exchange for real, American money.  

Just email me.  We are trying to avoid posting it on Craigslist again.

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