Friday, November 5, 2010

What an XBOX taught me about humanity

I tried to sell this old XBOX I had lying around on Craigslist. No takers, even for $30.

So I posted it on their Free section. If you've never checked it out, I recommend it.

I posted it, adding I wanted it to go to a non-profit, a hospital or a family in need. "No greedy people or college kids, I added. I then went to the bathroom, make breakfast and then rechecked my email box. In 20 minutes, I had 30 replies.

I was at first amazed, and then heartbroken. I didn't feel I had the strength to compare 30 stories of despair for the worst among them, so I picked one at random:


Saw your ad on cl. i can pick up. i was abandoned by my husband a few years ago (He lives in Australia so getting child support is a joke.) I clear 2000 a month and my rent is 1000 for an efficiency. I have no xmas present for my son who would love this. he is a great kid and we love each other. i am just financially challenged. your good will will be rewarded in prayers i can send out for you.

I was floored at the strength of this person to pour out their misery for me to compete for this XBOX. Even if 50% of these people were frauds, there was still a lot of pain out there. I quickly arranged for her to pick it up. She was a short woman with red hair, early fifties, driving a small red Volkswagen. I laid it in her front seat while she talked to me. She said she lost a lot when the market crashed and is trying to rebuild her life. She had applied for a government job but has been in waiting limbo over her security clearance.

She said the delay might be because her ex-husband was a foriegn national from Austrailia ("Another reason marrying him was the worst decision of my life,") she said with a strained smile. Her teenage son, she said, recently asked her how people became successful. He was interested because of their family's hard times, and he wanted to avoid it when he grew up. She told him that goals make people successful, so he immediately started researching colleges. She started to tear up at one point in her story, but held it back.

Later, after she had gone, I looked through the other replies. It was an awesome and humbling experience, connecting on such a personal level to strangers and their hardships. Here are a few more:

  • I would like to donate this to a youth center to a woman who runs it in woodbridge
  • Hey do you still have this game I would like it for my 2 out of my four kids (Jon note: I love this one)
  • can i get it for a friend that has 4 kids? BTW she is a single mother. cant afford much but to pay for rent and food
  • I’m a single Mom and I would love to get this for myself and daughter. Will totally understand if given to a much needer family. Thanks for posting :0
  • My mothers group is going to adopt a family this holiday and this would be perfect.
    here is the website for our group.
  • I am very needy can’t afford one right now for my 10 year old son. If possible would love to pick up
  • Ronald McDonald House Charities of Greater Washington DC ( is opening a new house in Washington and may be interested
  • I am a single father looking for help with Christmas gifts for my children this year. I know you have had many responses. I would like to give this to my son for Xmas he wants one so bad but I'm a single parent.I have just found out that i have bone disease and not able to stand for long periods at my job and this has force me into not working. I do understand if you don't reply back but please consider my son who is 9yrs old this would help out for Xmas. Thank you
  • I would love to have this for a raffle for xmas...I am a vice pres. for a non profit and looking to raise money for our scholarship fund and other related activities for our kids
  • If not taken, I would love to have it for our older youth group room at Dulin United Methodist Church in Falls Church. I can even get you a donation letter to a non- profit for your income tax returns.
  • Is this for real ? We have a toy drive comin up and this would be great!
  • Hi! If this is still available I would love to come pick up from you. We are about to cut our TV service off because we can't afford the bill and this would give the kids something to do during the times they would usually watch TV. We are pretty flexible for pick up most of the weekend; would just need an address.
Ok, I need to stop.


shesthesheriff said...

It would have been really funny if while you were talking to her, she put Wolfenstein back in your car.

Jesus @#$ing Christ did that game bring video game sucking to the absolute bowels of the 999th level of video game suck hell. It sucked!

Jonathan Rubin said...

It's strange, but I knew that too, and without ever playing it....

Anonymous said...

inspiring. I now feel compelled to give "stuff" away, especially to kids.