Basement purging is one of my favourite ways to do good deeds for others, because it simultaneously leads to a less cluttered house for me. The Internet makes it painless to repurpose almost anything instead of dumping it as trash. Plus, as you meet the various takers for your rejected stuff, you often collect some pretty hilarious stories.
My kindhearted neighbours are preparing to downsize to a condo. I won’t share their names publicly, lest I trigger a neighbourhood protest rally outside their front door. But I will say they recently experienced that sofa-shedding process that almost anyone goes through when they’re moving, downsizing, renovating or remodeling. It’s practically a rite of passage. It centres on an old, loyal couch that has seen your household through several decades, possibly even through multiple homeowners or generations. When purchased new, the camelback lines and emerald-and-brown floral pattern made a stunning statement as a living-room showpiece. Over time, however, the cushions begin to sag even as the colour palette stops trending. At some point, the sofa, now on the shabby side, is downgraded to the basement level, where it is jumped on by small people and spilled on by beer (hopefully not both at the same time). Eventually, it’s time to haul the sofa back up the stairs and out the door.
Now, not all used sofas are ugly or uncomfortable. A great many are still structurally sound, with a neutral colour scheme as an undeniable bonus. My neighbours’ couch fell into this category.
Sofas, as a general rule, are tough to relocate to good homes, because they’re difficult to transport and potentially life-threatening on stairs. When I think about the stuff I’ve given away, many takers arrived by bike or by public transit. One guy even carried our superfluous wooden door away with him to the bus stop. When my neighbours recently made inquiries about donating their couch, they were told it would cost them two hundred bucks in handling fees. Sadly, the piece of furniture thus languished curbside for garbage pick-up.
But they didn’t totally give up. As a thoughtful touch – with the faint hope that someone with access to hearty movers would spot the couch and realize it was the perfect piece for their own home – my neighbours covered the couch with clear plastic to protect it from the elements. At least it wouldn’t be ruined while it sat outside in bad weather.
I would love to be able to tell you that within days a truck drove up with Sofas-for-the-Needy R Us stenciled on the side, loaded up my friends’ couch and carted it away. I’d like to say that the children currently sitting on this beloved couch are so comfortable and secure that they’re finally able to concentrate properly on their studies, and that every one of them will eventually be offered a full scholarship to the university of their choice… but that would be wishful thinking. Sadly, no one claimed the couch for their own, and the garbage truck eventually picked it up.
At least my neighbours tried. They had generosity in their hearts, and a practical idea in place. Maybe someone who spotted what they’d done will do the same when it’s their turn to donate furniture. And maybe, this time, it really will result in a bright future for a bright family.
You never know.