Opinion: What’s ten feet tall and not subject to inflation?


Published: 06-22-2024 8:00 AM

Brian Adams of Andover, Mass., is a UNH alumnus originally from Londonderry. He was previously a sketch comedy writing instructor and staff writer at ImprovBoston and a founding contributor to satirical online newspaper Recyculus. He is a father to three girls ages 6 and under.

‘Great news!” my wife, Kim, reported.

My mind began to reel. Were we in line to inherit a fortune from a long-lost relative? Did I win a raffle for a lifetime supply of Cherry Coke? Do they give college scholarships to kindergartners?

“I got a basketball hoop for the kids on Everything’s Free!” she said, elated.

If you’re not familiar, Everything’s Free is an online group that exists in many towns, including ours, where items that are no longer needed can be given away to someone who could put them to good use.

Every so often, when Kim sees something we could use, she’ll claim it. And that’s where I come in. This basketball hoop had been her white whale. Now Ahab was here to dispatch her first mate across town to haul in her trophy kill.

“Seeing as we don’t own a U-Haul truck, how would you like me to acquire this basketball hoop?” I asked her, genuinely curious.

“Oh,” she said, surprised that there may be an issue. “I figured you’d just drive the Explorer over there and pop it in the trunk.”

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“Have you ever seen someone take a regulation basketball hoop and ‘pop it’ into the trunk of their vehicle? Or ‘pop it’ anywhere else, for that matter?” I asked. “Basketball hoops are not really a pop-able item.”

“I didn’t think it would be too difficult,” she explained over her shoulder, walking out the door to take our six-year-old to Girl Scouts.

The next evening after dinner, I pulled into a complete stranger’s driveway, ready to work. When he saw the size of my SUV, he laughed. “I don’t know about this,” he said, smiling.

I was not confident either, but the two of us spent the next hour trying to disassemble the hoop to the point that I might fit it in the trunk, both of us swatting flies away from our sweaty foreheads as we worked. The bolts that connected the pole to the base were completely rusted and some were caked in so much dirt that we became unsure if it would even be possible to remove them. There were more than a few times that I could not help but wonder how much it would cost to simply buy a brand new hoop.

That’s not the whole point of Everything’s Free, though. Whenever I show up at someone’s house to relocate their arts and crafts supplies or elliptical machine or mini trampoline or help another stranger take items out of our house, I realize that the “free” aspect of Everything’s Free is simply a tangential benefit.

In our modern world, it is increasingly easy to live an isolated existence, even while surrounded by neighbors on all sides. It’s nearly impossible to find something that cannot be delivered directly to your door. If you don’t want to go to places like the grocery store or the bank, you can probably avoid it, so crossing paths with people in your community doesn’t seem to happen quite as naturally as it once did. When you’re picking up an item, there’s a chance to interact with people in your community. The items usually come with a story, too.

“My kids loved this hoop for years,” the owner said to me as we toiled away in the darkness. “They’ve just moved on to different activities now, so we wanted someone else to enjoy it like they did.”

“My daughter has started to show interest in basketball,” I shared with him. “Her twin sisters are too young at the moment, but I’m sure they’ll want to play soon.”

When we had completed our joint mission, we did manage to pop it in the trunk, though it took two trips. After another hour of reassembling the hoop by myself in my driveway, my girls had a new basketball hoop and I had a new story to tell them when they’re older. I guess that’s something you can’t get delivered to your front door.