Lana* is an eBay genius. Nay, an eBay GODDESS. If you need advice on how to sell anything on the e-commerce site, she is your go-to source.
Nothing — no label, no size, no season or shape — is too hard for her to sell and score herself a couple of (or a couple of hundred) bucks.
But there was one request even she couldn’t have predicted when she recently logged in to her account to check a notification about a little black dress she had put up for sale.
"Hi would u have any dirty and very worn heels or flats you would sell if I pay $50 a pair? Thanks."
The username? It definitely suggested he was looking for more than just a spare pair of shoes to wear around the house.
For someone who has been on eBay for eight years, this type of proposition was most certainly a first for her.
"I'd never received a message like that before," Lana told Mamamia, adding that even though she knew such fetishes existed, she "never expected to be contacted about this kind of thing off the back of a party dress eBay listing."
Most people (i.e. me) would promptly hit 'delete', slam their laptop closed and head to the nearest TV to pop on a few old, cheerful episodes of Glee to forget about the whole situation.
But Lana? Curiosity had well and truly kicked in. And with her friends suggesting that maybe earning herself a little extra cash on the side (however unconventional) wasn't really a bad thing, she decided to explore further.
"I immediately went through and checked that my eBay profile didn't have any publicly accessible information that could identify me. I didn't want anyone being able to see my address or full name!" she said.
"After the initial shock, I thought, 'Why not?' So I sent him a message back asking what exactly he wanted and how many. He replied and asked for photos of the shoes and things went from there."
Yep. Things went from there... and they got even stranger.
At first, the questions were fairly innocent. Then, they ventured into specifics. We're talking "has a guy ever rubbed your feet or kissed them?" and "do you ever wear six inch high heels?" territory. There was even a selfie (or three).
"When I started receiving messages back from this guy, I did start to get a little concerned that this wasn't just about business for him. He sent me pictures of himself (fully clothed, thank God) and started telling me that he is shy when talking to girls. But I'm here for the cash, nothing more," she said.
"I think he started trying to blur the lines a little bit when he was asking me questions. [From the research I have done] I know that conversing is usually a normal part of a transaction like this...but I did start to feel like he maybe thought this was more than a business transaction, especially when he asked me for photos of myself."
That's where Lana drew the line.
"I don't feel comfortable sharing pictures of myself and I'm not here to form a bond with anyone, so I politely stopped the communication. At the end of the day, I have the power to shut this down if and when I choose to. If I decide I don't want to continue communicating then I can. I know that if I feel uncomfortable I can just walk away. Which is exactly what I did." (Post continues after gallery.)
While no money (or dirty, smelly shoes) has changed hands just yet, Lana is still waiting to see if her unconventional transaction will come to pass.
But there's one thing she's learned from her eBay experience: different people are into different things, and no matter if you indulge their fantasies or not, no-one deserves to be judged.
"There are a lot of people in this world that feel isolated and strange. I genuinely think that this guy was shy and really wanted someone to talk to. You don't have to be anyone's best friend but kindness can go a long way, especially in odd situations like this."
*Name has been changed.