three-legged tenant.

While we had the van at our disposal, I decided to get rid of a three-legged tenant of my apartment that had been ordered to leave months ago. I'm not sure when the leg of my sofa broke. I may have bought it that way. And it wasn't so much broken as loosely attached. If you picked the sofa up and carried it around, the leg was very liable to fall off. But if you put the leg back carefully and left the sofa on the ground, then you couldn't tell a difference.

The sofa was a two-seater with upholstery that was trying really hard to be leather but was clearly made by a man and not a cow. It was a dark vomit green and looked like the kind of thing you'd find in the basement of an old man who was trying to convince himself that he was very learned. It was going to be his reading sofa, except that he ended up falling asleep in the recliner in front of the TV most nights.

This is the fun of buying used furniture. You can invent past lives for them.

I bought the sofa for $15 at a yard sale during my last year of college. I loved it, because I empathized with its struggle to be a learned old man's study couch. It was the main piece of living room furniture for me in Boone, in Winston-Salem, and here in Raleigh up until about four months ago. At that point, I came to grips with the fact that for all its charm, it just wasn't a very comfortable place to sit. The sofa got moved into the dining room, where it waited for me to find proper transportation for it to go to Goodwill. A futon was put in the living room, and I hope that the sofa was not too jealous of the fact that we stopped sitting on the floor so much and actually used the futon.

Transportation finally happened Sunday night. Yes, I lived with a sofa in my dining room for four months, what of it? That's the kind of wild and crazy single life I lead. We carried it down the stairs, stopping and picking up the fallen leg on the way. We loaded it up and drove down to Goodwill. As we were unloading it, I cautioned Josh not to let the Goodwill employees see the gimpy leg, because I was afraid that they would not take it.

Is that dishonest? Am I required to give full disclosure on the known limitations of an item if I am giving it to someone for free? We weren't really trying to pull anything. Yes, the leg fell out, but if you left the couch on the floor, you could reattach it very nicely and use it without incident. But even if Goodwill did take it, they would likely discover the defect later, at which point they might just dump it. I wished that I had taken the time to get some wood glue and repair the leg before I battled this ethical debate.

Well, none of that matters, because in route to the donation door, the leg did its thing and gave me away. The Goodwill lady said she could not accept my donation of a sad old man's basement study sofa and I had to put it back in the van. We asked where we might take it, and she recommended the dump. I wished that I could have covered the sofa's ears before she said that so its feelings wouldn't be hurt.

We wouldn't have to take it to the dump. There was a dumpster at my apartment where you could put large items. Many people put stuff there, only to have someone else see it and adopt it. I had saved multiple items myself this way. Every time I did, I griped and shook my fist at the unknown person who threw away a perfectly good item. Even though I was rescuing it, they had no way of knowing that someone would take it, and they'd be much better off taking it to a thrift store where it was sure to get new life.

It was starting to get late, and there were rain clouds overhead. I pictured my three-legged sofa sitting next to the dumpster, maybe with an old Christmas tree to keep it company, in the rain. I knew I couldn't do it, and I waited a few moments before daring to ask Josh how he felt about carrying the sofa back up the stairs to my apartment.

He agreed without even a sigh, because he knows me pretty well. He was probably waiting for me to ask. If I left a functional item out there to sit in the rain and wait for some sympathetic stranger, then I have no right to shake my fist at anyone else who does it. I don't want to be a hypocrite, and I don't want to be wasteful.

We bought the wood glue, we made the repair. We will borrow the van again, carry the couch down the stairs again, and try to give it to a different thrift store. For now, the couch is still in my apartment, probably sniggering to itself because it's managed to mooch off me for another week. Or it's grateful that I care enough to give it new life. Or maybe it's just a sofa and doesn't have feelings at all.

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