Wednesday, June 12, 2013

The Art of Asking

I love this TED Talk that Amanda Palmer did a while back called The Art of Asking.  I encourage everyone to watch the whole thing, but the gist of it is because she isn't afraid to ask people for what she needs, she often gets what she asks for plus a personal connection with someone and a chance to encounter people.  She has asked her fans to fund albums (a controversial decision), has frequently stayed at fans' houses, has gotten food from fans--even a neti pot.  Basically whenever she needs something, she just asks. And when she gets what she asked for, she says thank you and shares a genuine moment with the person she is thanking.

It's almost stupidly simple.  You ask for something you need, and the person you ask says either yes or no.  But it can be awful, and embarrassing and potentially awkward as well.  Except, it can also be really great.  When you have something--anything, that you're not particularly fired up about and you find someone who needs it, it's a great feeling.  I've found that in freecycling things--both giving things and receiving them.  I had a tv a few months ago that I didn't need, and I found a girl who was really grateful to take it off my hands.  My bike was stolen, and a woman gave me a better bike that had been sitting in her shed.  Asking isn't demanding, and people have the option to just refuse, but oftentimes, they realize that it's not a big deal at all.

I mentioned a while back that I was in a bit of a pickle when it came to a tv for my new apartment. I don't want to pay for one, so I put an ad on Freecycle asking if anyone had one that works that I could pick up.  I heard back from a guy about 30 minutes away and planned to pick it up on Sunday.  Then I had a chat with BF and a friend, who strongly discouraged me from taking this potentially huge and heavy tv in favor of looking for a cheaper, newer one.  To be honest, I'm not sure why they were so vehement, but they did plant a seed in my mind, so I emailed the guy back and started hunting for a different tv.

Craigslist Flatscreen
I looked all over Craigslist and discovered that a flatscreen tv in Craigslist parlance, is just a tube tv with a screen that doesn't bulge out.  I became a bit disheartened.  Then I thought that maybe, just maybe, someone I know has one they are getting rid of, or just don't need.  I've already had a couple people offer me really old tvs, so I figured I'd see if there was something newer out there, for whatever reason.

I asked and I received--two offers actually, within about fifteen minutes.

A friend of mine who is planning on going on an adventure in the fall and who is actively purging her house of contents has a small flat screen (actual flatscreen, not just a screen that's slightly flat), that she bought four years ago and never really used. She said she thought she might like to have it on in the background since she was also living alone for the first time in a long time, but later realized that she's not much of a tv person.

It has a built in DVD player, and HDMI port so I can connect my laptop if I want, and is the perfect size.  BF was a bit horrified at how small it was when he saw it, but it's bigger than my laptop screen and perfect for my needs because I really don't care about screen size.   I know, since it's a newer model, that it will work with the roku I plan to buy... or ask for.

I have a tendency to just take the easiest option, so I am a bit glad that BF and my friend pushed me not to take the Freecycle tube tv because it turns out the even easier option was getting a better tv from a friend.

She even delivered it, and we got to catch up face-to-face instead of via facebook.  It was really nice.  Bonus: I've managed to still never pay for a tv.  Keep the streak alive!


  1. That's awesome! I see a lot of people asking for stuff on facebook...kind of like freecycle with people you know aren't sketchy. My local freecycle group is terrible so maybe I should start asking for things if I ever have a need for something. And then, respond to people who ask for things I can give away to return the favor.

    Good post and when you get your Roku it will change your life. As soon as my cable "deal" is up, I'm cancelling it and using Netflix and either Hulu Plus or Amazon Prime full time.

  2. Very cool! Like the idea of Freecycle and certainly makes a lot of sense. And I do like the idea of asking for what you need. We just are not raised in that environment. Thanks! Best Regards, Wendy 2013 Blogathon

  3. Great post! Maybe it'll encourage me to ask more ~ always too afraid of rejection. But one of my friends always says, "If someone tells you no, you've simply asked the wrong question."