It’s been the first week of April and you may have found yourself “fooling” someone, or perhaps you on the other end of that relationship, playing the fool yourself. I've got to tell you about an experience I had three years ago, with a website called Freecycle.com. It's a forum or sorts where you post one of two things. You're either offering something for free or you want something for free.
Here's the post I made (edited) at BentonArkansas.blogspot.com on April 1st, 2007, titled "April Fool's = Freecycle Banning."
Well, folks, I managed to get myself banned from the Benton/Bryant chapter of Freecycle.com.
This is hilarious to me since I have been a member for over a year and have given away things and gotten things and made friends through this Yahoo group. The thing is, some people don't exactly remember that it's April Fool's Day. Especially when it falls on the weekend.
I had been looking at different popular websites that made some kind of April Fool's joke out of their front page for this dubious-at-best holiday, and I thought I would make a couple of jokes of my own.
I noticed there weren't many Freecycle posts today. I thought surely someone would have posted something fantastical to give away, or something needless that they wanted. None whatsoever. I sought to remedy that situation with the following group posts:
OFFER: Dinner Leftovers. Half bowl of wild rice, two mini-cobs of corn, about a scoop of black-eyed peas and a third of a pan of meatloaf. Bowls not included.
I received a quick reply to this one something to the tune of, "Quit posting this junk and get a life."
To which I martyred back, "What, you didn't think that was real? A hungry college student just emailed me and came over with a Walmart sack for dinner."
OFFER: Non-Flood Plain Acres in Benton. Flat, grassy, rich soil. Good for use as a neighborhood development, multi-level parking lot, botanical gardens, or possibly a community recreation park.
Aside: You may remember that in 2007, there was some discussion about putting an event center on land at the southeast corner of Interstate 30 and Exit 114. Look on the Google Satellite Map and you'll see that it's a rather wet location for anything to be built.
I got two replies to this post. The first was from a prankster-savvy Freecycler. "I will take about 10 acres of that! Is it improved with hookups? You are so sweet to make this wonderful offer! Happy April Fool's Day!!"
The second person to reply was rather less astute. "You are giving property away? If so, we are interested. What's the deal/information on it?"
WANTED: Excuses To Play Hooky From Work Monday
I have a ton of work to do so it will have to be a really good one. I need an excuse to tell my boss as well as one for my husband, since I am supposed to be saving my vacation days for Summer. Also need a good excuse for my mom since she keeps the toddler during the day.
This is the one a moderator took exception to! Not the next few posts, which - among other things - disguise an attempt for a free car wash as an offer for a precious metal, and taut a prison-fashioned weapon as arts & crafts.
OFFER: Gold Dust. I have a magical car and porch that gathers gold dust every year during the spring. I'm loaded, so I thought I would share it with whoever is in need. Just come with a bucket of suds and a sponge and you can have all you can get off of my car. If you want it from the front porch, you'll need a mop.
OFFER: Used Murder Weapon. Long, pointy shiv crafted by local artisan from giant vinyl dollar comb. Needs cleaning and it could be good as new. Fingerprints not included.
OFFER: Unmatched Socks. purple, pink, blue, green, dingy, rainbow, penguin.
OFFER: Used Scratch Paper. All sizes. Different shades ranging from white to cream to yellow. Assorted phone numbers, college notes, grocery lists and carpentry dimensions included. Pages will be slightly wrinkled.
I received zero replies on these last four posts. I'm thinking when I got banned that the messages were deleted also.
Here's how the email went between myself and the group moderator...
Mod (not her real name): This is not an appropriate posting for Freecycle. Please refrain from posting anything that does not pertain to the offer or request for something tangible. Tangible meaning: capable of being touched; discernible by the touch; material or substantial. Thank you for your understanding, The Saline County Freecycle Mods
Me (a name I call myself): Happy April Fool's Day! That's all it was.
Mod: Now I feel really bad! You got me. It didn't even cross my mind that these messages might be an April Fool's joke.If you wish, please re-subscribe to the group with an April Fool in the message. Believe me, I do have a sense of humor, and these messages did make me grin, but even as moderators of the group, we ourselves are moderated so we have to be ever vigilant. I'm sorry for not getting the joke. Even so, I'll bet this is going on in groups all over the states. Geez! *smacking myself*.
See the archive of Shelli's columns at http://www.mysaline.com/notes/Courier_Column