Through the looking glass: Healthy addictions

I have a confession to make: I’ve developed an obsession. Hello, my name is Jennifer, and I’m addicted to Kijiji. But I can quit any time I want. I have found many treasures through Kijiji, and most for next to nothing. I was perusing through the adds one day and found a convection self-clean wall oven with matching glass stove top and range hood. It was listed for $700. I combed the add very carefully to find the glitches and problems. Finding none, I decided I would contact this facetious seller to see if they might offer a plausible explanation as to why they were selling a $2500 set for such a low price. Didn’t happen. They continued their claim that it was in great condition and made no explanations for the low price. Still skeptical, I made arrangements to go and see the set, fully expecting to find a set that was taken from a burned down building or one that had been sitting in a shed providing a home to rodents for months after being stolen.

We took the address and began our journey, planning to catch a movie the same day so the trip wasn’t a complete waste of time. As we drew closer, the reasons for the steal slowly began to emerge. Driving an SUV, I increasingly felt more like a thief scoping out a neighbourhood. A passing police car eyed me very carefully as I drove by; pretty sure he even ran my plate. Short of magazines, I have never seen such massive houses. I mean they were huge! They could have been hotels, but the gates, address plaques and security cameras and such spoke to a different type of dwelling. The address we were looking for provided a tiny glimpse into the lives of people who make more money in a month than most win on a lottery. Driving through two gates and beyond the exotic tree line, a mansion emerged that would indeed be ‘Trump’ worthy. The garage doors alone looked like they had been fashioned for a castle. It was amazing. Nervously I tidied my hair, fixed my makeup, and stepped slowly from my now shabby looking ride. I hesitantly walked towards the door, expecting some mutant bred Doberman type beast to come flying around the corner at any second. Instead, a woman opened the door and greeted me as if she’d known me forever. I may have done better with the doberman. She invited us in and proceeded to explain that her mother, in her retirement, was quite bored and loved to sell things and such. They were just going to donate it or throw it out. She went on to explain that they were moving into their lake property (I bet it has running water) while their main house (I wondered how many they had) was being renovated. There was nothing wrong with the set, they were just tired of it.

As my husband, Dion, feverishly dismantled the set I took a moment to stare in awe at their home. Huge pillars flanked the staircase with wrought iron railings gracing each step, which were likely made out of some irreplaceable rainforest wood. The fireplace mantle appeared to be marble, but it could easily have been a faux finish on top or brass or sterling silver or maybe even gold. Glancing out the french doors to the back patio I felt mildly ill when I noticed her outdoor kitchen was bigger and more elaborate than my indoor one! Pulling me back to focus, she casually asked if we were just going to use it until we found something we liked. I quipped something about making do with it while nudging Dion to move faster! I decided to really push my luck and offered $600. She waved her hand, indicating ‘whatever’ and I inwardly chastised myself for not offering less. Isn’t greed a wonderful thing? It’s kind of like the pawn store shows. Guy goes in with an item hoping to get $100 for it. Expert shows up revealing an actual value of $5000. Suddenly the guy is going to keep it or sell it on eBay to get more money. Our greed can present at the drop of a hat!

We took the set and thanked the fine folks for their time and left. The set ended up in my in-laws barn for about a year and a half waiting for the house construction to near completion. I suspect it made a fine temporary home for some rodents. Sigh.

Christmas Eve, about six months after its installation, I was milling about in the kitchen preparing food for guests who would arrive anytime when I noticed a lovely fracture pattern across the stove top. As I looked closer I realized that it had completely shattered, to the point that it cut my finger as I ran my hand across it. Now, if your home is anything like mine, you occasionally endure an unwanted guest. This guest shows up, unannounced and unwelcome, to wreak havoc, cause mayhem and destruction, devour your favorite foods, occasionally even wreck your clothing, and pretty much break anything you deem valuable or vital to your basic existence. A lot. This particular guest goes by the name of ‘Not-me’. And this time Not-me broke my stove top.

With all my family has endured this year, I experienced an odd reaction. I laughed. I dispensed with the usual interrogation of my children, threatening to cut off the satellite (like I could live without tv) cancel internet (again, not going to happen without sedation) and other such empty threats. I laughed. The children, likely convinced I was experiencing a psychotic break, were probably the most frightened I’ve ever seen them. Exchanging worried glances they slowly backed out of the room as if my laughter was synonymous with a countdown on a bomb and any sudden movement might trigger a reenactment of the bombing of Hiroshima.

No explosion came. No projectiles. No shrapnel. No calls to 911. I calmly found the duct tape, covered the sharp bits on the stove and carried on preparing for our company. Dion, blissfully at work, managed to avoid the hysteria and arrived home right around my fourth glass of wine. The stove top was fading memory.

December 26th I was on Kijiji. Low and behold there was another stove top! Jenn-Air! Five elements! Fifty bucks! It was being advertised from a place called ‘Homes Reusable’; a company that salvages items from office buildings and homes, and sells them. Cheap. Cautiously optimistic that it was still available I emailed the seller. And waited. December 27th I phoned Homes Reusable; it was still there and they would hold it for us. We drove to the south side of Edmonton, strode into Homes Reusable like hired guns, picked up the stove top, dropped fifty bucks on the counter and left. In and out in under three minutes. That night we (and by we I mean my Dion) cut a larger hole in the island to accommodate the bigger, more impressive stove top and successfully wired it in. The subsequent glow of each element as Dion systematically tested them, gave me greater and greater satisfaction. I was downright giddy. As my excitement settled, I returned to my computer. It was only after half an hour of perusing the Homes Reusable website, marvelling over its stock, that I realized… Kijiji was the gateway…

Staring blankly at my computer screen I am left debating the oxymoron of ‘healthy addiction’. Really, I can quit anytime I want.


Jennifer Barry is a writer for the Spectator Tribune.

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