Good(bad)will

20 05 2009

It sat there begging, practically screaming to be taken. With its wobbly drawer, the scuffed furniture set it was a part of ostracized this otherwise perfectly fine nightstand left outside of the Goodwill. We had just unloaded an armchair that would have raked in around 30 bucks, whereas the nightstand at best could bring in maybe eight.

It’s not like anyone would have noticed the set was missing a nightstand. I am 67 percent sure that another nightstand was in the set. And really, who uses two? That’s just greedy.

I truly and genuinely needed a nightstand to call my own. The thing was, my furniture fund wasn’t exactly overflowing. Chances are if this little guy had made it into the Goodwill, I probably would have purchased him.

In an attempt to legitimately obtain the nightstand, I walked semi-desperately around to the garage, but found no one. With the back of Goodwill empty, I decided to take it in fair exchange of the lovely armchair my friend had just graciously donated.

As my friend fired up the U-Haul, I tossed it in. While sitting in traffic later, an abrupt stop brought an abrupt whack to my head via the faulty drawer in my new bedside companion. This nightstand, an obvious threat, required a controlled environment, like my bedroom, rather than that of an unsuspecting and innocent child’s room. Clearly, this act was a public service.

My friends, however, refer to my public service of stealing from Goodwill as an act of “badwill.”

But it looked good beside my bed, with my paisley lamp and alarm clock. It sat level with my mattress, unlike the crappy bookshelf that inhabited the area since August. And the drawers offered privacy previously not enjoyed by the former “nightstand.”

The next morning, the guilt set in. Kind of. Rolling over to slap my alarm and not have the lamp fall on my head was a triumphant victory. I asked my resourceful grandma what she would have done, and she agreed that leaving a chair made it fair game. But my dad disagreed, saying I should return it to Goodwill or make a donation. My friends were appalled, my roommates amused. All I wanted was somewhere to leave my new lightning-bolt earrings, not a one-way ticket to hell for stealing something from a nonprofit.

Three days later, karma or coincidence or God or whatever hit me, along with the faulty drawer, again. My friend, who had moved to Pittsburgh because of a family tragedy, asked me if I knew where he could get a nightstand. In the jukebox of my mind, Bob Marley’s Redemption Song cued in as an opportunity presented itself to atone for my sort-of sin.

I spent one last, memorable evening with the nightstand. The next morning, I lugged the thing to my friend’s car. The drawer fell out and hit me in the shin; but instead of cursing, I took it as an act of penance. I even left a new (yet shitty) Christmas CD in the top drawer for my friend. Yeah, it was Christmastime. Judge.

A call to the friends to say all was clear and an expectation to be applauded for taking the moral ground yielded no such results. They were less then celebratory and accused me of peddling “hot” furniture.

They remind me, and other friends, from time to time of my faux-paux theft; stealing from Goodwill at Christmastime then passing off the stolen good to a friend in need. Me? It straddles the border of a sort-of sin and sort-of public service. You’re welcome.

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3 responses

21 05 2009
Shannon Davis

I would be one of the mean friends that were calling you bad names…and I’m sticking to it! 🙂

22 05 2009
megen simpkins

Lauren, I heart you man… just sayin.

23 05 2009
Keturah

As the driver of said U-Haul who donated a very nice, expensive Queen Anne style armchair to the Goodwill (along with about ten boxes of clothing, dishes, and other housewares), I still don’t understand why anyone was upset with you about this. I’m also offended that this all sounds so tawdry. It was a well thought-out decision, and we meant no harm.

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