This is a cautionary tale.
After much deliberating, this weekend we bought a swingset/play structure off Craigslist. This was my idea, as I thought it would be a great way to occupy our oldest daughter now that she’s home more often. My husband was not a fan of junking up the yard, but eventually came around.
And therein lies the trouble – this was my idea. Sooo the shit-show that ensued was therefore my fault.
Turns out the swingset, which looked legit in pictures, was homemade. Which means while it was lovely and sturdy, there was no thought put into the placement of screws for disassembly, let alone reassembly. The wood had also rotted in spots that were not visible until you started taking it apart.
My husband spent a miserable 5 hours wacking that thing apart on Saturday. And I mean wacking – he had to use a sledgehammer. I only witnessed the first hour, but within that hour I saw him go from casually unscrewing and hammering to an all-out bludgeoning. It wasn’t pretty.
Further dampening the experience – the husband of the family selling the swingset would not help us AT ALL. The wife was very nice and chatty, but when I asked if her husband might be able to help lift a heavy piece into the truck, she explained that he “doesn’t really like Craigslist” so didn’t want to get involved. WTF THEN SELL YOUR SHIT AT A GARAGE SALE, BUDDY.
She also mentioned that he didn’t want to be liable for anything. This, in hindsight, should’ve set off alarm bells. I’m guessing that wise guy knew it wasn’t going to come down, or go back up, very easily. But even so, I cannot believe he had the balls to sit in his house watching TV while some poor guy slaved away for 5 HOURS in his yard, and he never bothered to come out and offer help. Or even a glass of water.
Adding to the fun, our truck was too small to hold this massive beast. So we had to leave part of it behind to come get the next day.
Fast forward 4 nerve-racking hours after I left the scene, and my husband finally pulled the truck into the driveway with a million pieces of wood strapped in the back, and the biggest scowl I have ever seen on his face.
He said he didn’t blame me, instead he blamed himself for not paying more attention to the details beforehand. But there was clearly some tension in the air. He also had a lot of time alone with his thoughts, because he kept mumbling that he “learned his lesson” and was now going to “take control of his life.” I kept asking for explanation, but he just repeated himself and stared creepily out the window. I seriously thought he might have gone a wee bit insane. Then I realized he had nothing to eat or drink since lunch, so gave him dinner and some time alone. He proceeded to sleep on the couch in the basement that night.
In the end, he says he will need to re-build about half of the structure where the wood had rotted or is just not usable. My mother, bless her heart, thinks we should take them to small claims court for selling us something that is unsafe for kids. I had to explain that this is Craigslist, not Sears. I think the refund policy is more along the lines of “Go ahead, try to get your money back, and maybe I won’t cut your throat.” No thanks.
Meanwhile our backyard is littered with boards that have rusty nails sticking out of them, and has been cordoned off to kids for the foreseeable future.
On the upside, we decided not to return and pick up the piece that we left in their yard. They are on the verge of moving and needed it gone, so this is our small, but meaningful, way of saying, “WE WON’T DO ALL YOUR DIRTY WORK, JACKHOLE.”
If I could share any takeaways from this experience, they would be:
- Ask if a swingset is homemade and/or has instructions before you buy
- Ask if the owner will be able to assist in disassembly. Or, assume you should bring another set of helping hands other than your wife who has not lifted a weight since 2006.
- Pay by check, not cash, if you can (just in case you want some recourse)
- Bring the biggest possible truck to minimize tear down
- Don’t bother. Just go to the park.
I think we are finally starting to recover from the emotional trauma of the past 48 hours. As I said to my husband, “I’m sure we will laugh about this someday.” His response, “Not today. And probably not tomorrow.”