Friday, June 29, 2012

For Sale or Barter

Sometimes I have to remind myself that reality TV isn't reality at all.

Note to self: If a trade on Craigslist seems to be too good to be true, it probably is.

I've entertained the idea of getting an old travel trailer. Not just a used trailer but an oldie, a classic. I don't even know if we would actually use it for camping or tailgating, but the thought of owning one is appealing. It could be a decorating project or a place for the kids to hang out with their friends. Part of the reason that we bought our house away from the covenants and restrictions of a HOA is so we can park whatever we want, wherever we want. Dave is worried that an old trailer in the driveway screams "redneck". I disagree. Who can't appreciate the nostalgia of an old Airstream? Plus, we've already got 4 cars in the driveway-including two classic convertibles-a landscape trailer, a go kart, and a collection of bikes and scooters. How much worse is a travel trailer?

I found an ad on Craigslist last week for a 1970 Airstream trailer for barter. Basically, with house renovations in full swing we can't spend any money on toys right now so the barter part of the deal was really appealing. Before I even called on the ad the kids were arguing over who would live in the trailer as their bedroom and what color the lights would be when we decorated it for Christmas.

"OMG Mom, Lily and I will even share a room if you let us sleep in the trailer. Then the boys can turn Lily's room into a man cave," Evelyn said.

I called on the trailer. It was still available. So Dave and I went to see it in Elberta, Alabama.

If you've ever pictured back-woods Alabama, Alberta is the heart of it. We pulled down a dirt road lined with dilapidated trailers, tractors rolling along to their own beat, and cars up on blocks in front yards. We joked about wishing we had brought a gun along, just in case we needed to use it. We pulled up to the address on the ad. The house and yard looked like something from the TV show Sanford and Son.

We got out of the truck and were greeted by a seemingly normal man named Rich. He was about 50, clean shaven, wearing blue jeans and wire glasses. Dave walked around the back of the house with him discussing the details of the trailer. I bent down as I got out of the truck and picked up a tiny kitten off the ground. He was orange and about 6 inches long. Two other kittens from the litter laid nearby, covered with tiny gnats. They weren't doing as well. I followed Dave's path to the trailer. The little kitten curled up in my arms and meowed like he had never been picked up before-he probably hadn't. Rich looked normal but clearly couldn't be.

After a walk around the property discussing what Rich was looking for in trade for the trailer, we left with a good feeling. The Airstream was in much better shape than we had expected it to be and Rich seemed motivated to make a deal. We happened to have a couple of the things he was looking for including a dirt bike and firearms. He also wanted a riding mower or cash. Cash was out of the question. On Barter Kings, (Have you seen that show on TV?), they never bring cash to the trade.

The story goes on, and after a dozen emails and phone calls between Dave and Rich we didn't end up with the Airstream trailer. It seemed that no matter what we offered Rich was never satisfied enough to seal the deal-firearms, a dirt bike, even a 2010 riding lawn mower! I guess there is a reason that his yard looks the way it does-he never gets rid of anything. Perhaps the only visitors he gets in Elberta, Alabama are Craigslisters. I think he likes the attention.

I still want a vintage Airstream. Eventually I'll find one for the right price, or trade. On Barter kings they always make the deals happen. I guess in real life it doesn't work that way. For now I have to figure out what to do with the slightly used riding mower that's outside? We bought it hoping to trade it for the trailer. If we leave it sitting in the driveway people might just think we're rednecks.

The vintage Airstream trailer that was almost ours...sort of.