“Check out my hot new printer,” I said to my new Denver friend in my new Denver apartment. I had just bought an HP Photosmart Premium printer. It had a scanner and could print photos. But this is not why I described my printer as hot. I had found the printer on Craigslist, listed as new, for $100. It retailed for $150.
Part of me thought the printer was stolen since the guy met me at a 7-11 parking lot to sell me a deeply discounted product in its original packaging out of a car that smelled like methanol cigarettes. The other part of me was prepared to go under oath to say I had no knowledge of the printer’s origins. While I generally don’t condone theft, this was during a period of my life when most of my social interactions came through Craigslist. I spent an evening with a couple who were renting out their spare room because the boyfriend was about to lose his unemployment. Back in the Pacific Northwest, they flipped antiques on Craigslist, but here, the girlfriend said, “people think their shit is worth a lot.” And when I knew no one in Denver, talking to them about online classifieds made for a fine enough evening. After I found a place of my own, I spent most of my free time driving out to Longmont and Aurora to stand briefly in a stranger’s foyer to pick up a side table or dresser. It seems weirder now to meet a guy from the internet in a parking lot to buy something that was readily available at a retail establishment.
The thing about this hot printer is that it’s optimistically wi-fi compatible, which is to say, it didn’t come with a wire to connect to my computer and the wi-fi didn’t work. When I went to Office Max to buy the missing part, I learned that the purchase of my exact printer came with $75 rebate.
So my printer wasn’t hot, but someone had still been ripped off.