Craigslist was full of so many possibilities years ago. Missed Connections provided endless hours of entertainment as previously unpublished writers began composing sonnets and essays about strangers they encountered while they were puking on adjacent street corners in Manhattan. Bed bug ridden couches and slightly damaged Ikea shelving units were sold with such enthusiasm that you'd assume all the world was liquidating.
The most valuable resource provided by Craigslist was one of shrewd consumerism. Before the website, I knew people were the absolute worst, but the "customers always right" mentality of commerce insulated me from what level of garbage humans can be. Company's, who desperately wanted me and everyone else to return, lavished us all with lenient return policies and only smiles when large coffees spilled over a stack of sweaters. And sure Craigslist might be a fancy, free newspaper classified, but print ads didn't have nearly as far a reach as it does.
On Craigslist, people want to offload their shit and make money; they don't care if they have to screw over someone else by masking damage on the product because they provided a fake address and you'll never be able to find them again. (Didn't you think it was suspicious that the person was sitting on the curb in front of the house when you got there?) I've learned to be more careful with my purchases. Also, I've learned not to take the word of dudes with 6-inch tall, blonde pompadours who insist that a car will pass smog as he salivates over the $4000 cashiers check sitting in your purse. The car will not pass smog, and you'll never be able to track that guy down again.
Negotiating with my kids is a lot like that ok a Craigslist transaction: I don't trust them at all. I can thank this classifieds website for how I interact with my kids.
1. Never hand over the reward before they've satisfied all requirements: I'd like to say that I've stuck with this rule, but sometimes the kids' demands for cash up front wears me down. Once they've gotten the tv time they were supposed to "earn," I find it nearly impossible to get them to do the job I wanted them to do in the first place. Like sharks, they demand further payment before they do the job they were supposed to do in the first place.
2. Always look under the "hood:" My kids might say their room is clean, but I don't trust them. I have to make sure to check the closets. Most times, every piece of clothing, toy, and book that previously strewn about the room are now a mound of chaos under a rack of haphazardly hanging clothes. I have to pull it all out, throw it back on the floor of the middle of the room, and close the door quick lest their tantrums blow out my eardrums.
3. Never go into negotiations alone: It's important always to have another adult present to witness the agreement. If no one over the age of 18 is available, siblings work fine in a pinch as they're always looking for ways to sabotage their brother or sister. If, at a later time, the child with which I made the contract with decides to change the parameters, call in the witness to back you up.
While I would give anything to get that $4000 back, the lesson I learned that day has made me a much better negotiator with my kids. I've been burned one too many times to fall for their tricks.