I'm a member of our local freecycle group and yesterday someone posted an offering of some Hooked on Phonics tapes and books. I've seen commercials for the books and tapes for years and have always been curious, almost as curious as I am about those Your Baby Can Read dvds. But like the Your Baby Can Read Dvds, which I'm reasonably sure is a government plot designed to brainwash your children into becoming Clockwork Oranges, I was never willing to pony up the dough for a couple hundred dollars of sets just to quell my curiosity. And come on, what will they be hawking next? DVDs designed to teach my baby to trade stocks? Although maybe in this economy, it's not such a bad idea.

So when the opportunity presented itself and someone in my area offered the sets on freecycle, I decided to take it.

Freecycle is a cool way to recycle items and reduce the watsefullness I'm sometimes guilty of. Lots of things are still good and can be used by others, but I just don't know whom. I'm always working on decluttering my house of stuff I've only used once in the last ten years so as a concept, I dig freecycle. But there are drawbacks. One of the things that bugs me about freecycle is when you offer something and there's a great rush to claim the item but the person you promise it to can't be bothered to come get it. Recently I had a floor cleaner sit on my front doorstep for two weeks before I finally got sick of waiting for the person who wanted it to come by. I emailed to ask if she still wanted it after a week and she was all "Yes! I totally need it. I'll be by today!" and another week went by. I finally just told the next person to come get it. If you don't want it badly enough to actually go get the item, don't ask people to save it for you.

The other thing that bugs me is that people act so sanctimonious about it all. "You posted that you have a memory stick? Will it work with my camera? I have a Kodak 823E and I only want it if it will fit my camera. Also, I really want to make sure it's error proof, can you please run a diagnostic on it and tell me what the results are? Oh and I'll only take it if you put it in a water proof box because I don't want the rain to get to it and make sure you put my first name on the box so no one else will take it, oh and by the way, could you get me a purple one?" Dude, you're on the internet. You have as much access to Google as I do. Pick up the thing if you think you want it and check it for yourself. If it doesn't work for you, you can pawn it off on someone else, or worse, *gasp* throw it away like I was going to do. If you don't want to go to at least a little effort in finding out if the thing will work for you, then stop picking through my trash.

Or... they offer something and then immediately extend their hand to allow you all to kiss their ring. Some make the people who express interest in the item jump through hoops ("you can only have it if you can be here between 4:00 am and 6:00 am on the second Sunday of the month") or compete with others to get the item. ( "Weeeeellll... another person asked for it first but he cannot come until tomorrow; if you can come get it today before 2:00 pm and can do so without parking in my driveway, it's yours.") Come on, people! How hard is it to put the thing on your doorstep and tell a person to pick it up whenever? It even saves you the effort of dragging it out to the curb for the trash men.

This latter category is the one into which the Hooked on Phonics person fell. But, whatever, I was at work and it was easy to pick up the thing on my way home at the time she wanted so, no skin off my nose. After trading about six emails and finally "winning" the Hooked on Phonics throwaways, I stopped off on the way home from work yesterday and picked them up. Break out the champagne, I'm a winner! Woot!

Usually, I drop a brief email to the person to say thanks after picking something up, but after the contest this person put me through, I didn't bother. Later that night I got an email from her. Here it is, verbatim and sic:

Dear Alice -

Thank you for picking up on time.
hope your family benefit from it, my homeschooling kids love to play the tape and follow in the booklet, its inprove there reading, my 6 years old can read all the booklet without any help.

I think they need to change their catchphrase to Hooked On Phonics Worked For Some!

Or maybe I should just bring the tapes back.