New player? Sign Up Here
Level 7: 2012 points
Alltime Score: 9061 points
Last Logged In: May 21st, 2017
BADGE: INTERREGNUM TEAM: MNZero TEAM: El Lay Zero TEAM: Team Shplank TEAM: BKZerØ TEAM: San Francisco Zero TEAM: N0RD TEAM: SCIENCE! TEAM: Level Zerø TEAM: Probot TEAM: INFØ TEAM: AA0 TEAM: Whimsy TEAM: Team Metafilter BART Psychogeographical Association Rank 1: Commuter EquivalenZ Rank 1: User The University of Aesthematics Rank 2: Dealer Humanitarian Crisis Rank 1: Peacekeeper Biome Rank 1: Hiker Society For Nihilistic Intent And Disruptive Efforts Rank 1: Anti

25 + 296 points

Dead Drop by Loki

October 27th, 2008 1:37 AM / Location: 37.860081,-122.2620

INSTRUCTIONS: Arrange to sell or buy a perfectly ordinary, legal item via Craigslist or a similar forum. Convince the other party to conduct business using a dead-drop instead of meeting in person.

This is a strange little task.

I couldn't decide whether to play it as possibly true or obviously crazy, and in the end wound up with clearly fictional. Ah well. Task accomplished, and it sounds like my contact enjoyed it.

The original ad, posted on CraigsList Friday afternoon.

160 watt power inverter - $8 (berkeley)

Jensen 160 Watt power inverter. Three foot cord with a cigarette lighter plug, single outlet. Unit is used, worked fine the last time I used it. Local pickup only in Berkeley.

The first response.

from "A--" <>
date Fri, Oct 24, 2008 at 4:35 PM
subject power inverter

Do you still have it? Where are you located in Berkeley to pick it up? Do you have a ph# to arrange pick up?


My name's A-- (510) --- ----




Much sooner than I expected, someone responded. So, I had to come up with a plan for the dead drop. I threw some stuff together, then set out in search of a suitable location.

from "K. R. Millstone" <>
to "A--" <>
date Fri, Oct 24, 2008 at 6:19 PM
subject Re: power inverter

Hello A--,

Wow, that was a fast response. The power inverter is all yours if you want it.

It's important that we not be seen meeting in public, so I've arranged a dead drop.

At the corner of Ward St. and Ellsworth St. in Berkeley is a planter in the middle of a traffic circle. Just behind the north facing sign is a large bush. In the base of that bush is hidden an upside-down white flower pot. Inside the flower pot is your inverter. I've attached a photo with an arrow showing the location. You can pick it up at your leisure. Just leave the payment in the same place.

Also, I left three blue paperclips on the curb right in front of the sign. Please scatter them when you make the exchange. That way I can see at a glance whether you've been there and avoid the risk of making unnecessary trips to check the drop location.

Here's a map showing the location: map


from "A--" <>
to "K. R. Millstone" <>
date Fri, Oct 24, 2008 at 10:43 PM
subject Re: power inverter

Wow...I find this a little awkward... what's going on? I want a power inverter, not blow! ;-) It seems like I'm buying the plans to a secret russian submarine instead! How am I gonna know that the product is not defective or that is gonna blow up my car's output? Not quite the confidence builder here... can you clarify a bit? :-)

from "K. R. Millstone" <>
to "A--" <>
date Sat, Oct 25, 2008 at 10:41 AM
subject Re: power inverter

Sorry - I know this is a little unusual. I don't blame you for being suspicious.

Trust me, though, you don't want to know all the details.

The power inverter works, and it's perfectly legal. I bought it years ago to use a laptop in the car, and I no longer drive a car, so haven't used it in years. (All this cloak and dagger stuff has nothing to do with the power inverter itself. I just have to make sure they're not using you to get to me.)

You're welcome to try it out first to see if it works, then come back and leave me the cash. As far as the thing blowing up, well, you can unscrew the case and look for explosives if you want. Or, you can just assume that nobody's going to waste a perfectly good car bomb on a stranger. After all, you're the one who contacted me.


from "A--" <>
to "K. R. Millstone" <>
date Sun, Oct 26, 2008 at 12:08 AM
subject Re: power inverter

I might be able to stop by the location tomorrow afternoon or later in the work week. I'm driving from SF, so please make sure it remains there for a few days. I'll test it and if it works I'll drop off the money as agreed.


I checked that the package was undisturbed, and also sprinked some 10 Kopeck coins around on the ground nearby.

In responding to A--, I decided that my last message had been too conciliatory and sane. I wanted to up the weird just a little bit, so I added a black-and-white crop of Lank's campaign trail photo and turned him into an enemy agent.

from "K. R. Millstone" <>
to "A--" <>
date Sun, Oct 26, 2008 at 1:01 PM
subject Re: power inverter

Hi -

Just checked, and it's still there, as of Sunday 12:30pm. Stop by at your leisure. If you don't have a chance to stop by today and want me to check again later in the week, let me know.

(Also, I'm quite sure I wasn't followed. But, just in case, you may want to keep your eye out for the guy in the attached photo. They tell me he died in Akmola in 1997, but I don't believe it. Then again, I haven't seen him since then, so maybe it's really true this time. He won't approach you in public, but I wouldn't let him follow you home if I were you.)


from "A--" <>
to "K. R. Millstone" <>
date Sun, Oct 26, 2008 at 8:19 PM
subject Re: power inverter

(the bird has left the nest)


Thanks for the thing. It was a very exciting adventure, true or not. Great writing, the pic and the Akmola detail. You should write a novel a la Fleming!

Cheers & good luck!


Looks like I went a little overboard and made it too obvious that I was neither crazy nor telling the truth.

main_money70238.jpgStill, the guy did play along, and left the cash in the flower pot. He even wrapped it up in the plastic bag and rubber bands just like the original package.

Not all that exciting, as tasks go, but it was more interesting than most craigslist exchanges, and I did get $8 and free up a wee bit of closet space in the process.

Finally, if anyone wants to use for something, let me know. It seems too good an address to waste on just this task. I was surprised to find it available.

images follow, but you've already seen the interesting ones.

- smaller

The dead drop.

The dead drop.

Sent in my first email message.

The final package.

The final package.

Double bagged, in an old flower pot.

The stash, in place.

The stash, in place.

You'd never know it was there unless you were looking for it.



I returned late at night to find $8 in cash, bagged and banded and stashed in the flower pot. The kopecks were still there - in the dark it's like they went unnoticed.

Craigs list ad

Craigs list ad

I figured selling something worth about two movie tickets for a single movie ticket would be just barely motivating enough to convince someone to travel to pick it up, but not so valuable that I couldn't stand to get ripped off.

Ad image.

Ad image.

Agent Fische.

Agent Fische.

Or, a black and white cropped version of one of Lank's campaign trail photos. (In hindsight, I really should have used a photo of me, leaving open the option of lurking near the site later on.)

69 vote(s)

Favorite of:


(none yet)

19 comment(s)

(no subject)
posted by teucer on October 27th, 2008 6:57 AM

Man, I'd've been tempted to recruit Lank to actually show up at some point.

Nice work!

(no subject)
posted by Bryce on October 27th, 2008 8:11 AM

yeah, he's the perfect secret agent.

(no subject) +7
posted by .thatskarobot on October 27th, 2008 8:07 AM

The guy is reaching into the bushes and looks up, sees Lank standing across the street in a window, gazing at him with a dead stare.

(no subject)
posted by Minch on October 27th, 2008 9:36 AM

Not all that exciting as tasks go?!?!?!!?

This was glorious! GLORIOUS!!

"but I wouldn't let him follow you home if I were you"

(no subject)
posted by JJason Recognition on October 27th, 2008 9:51 AM

That pretty hilarious and pretty genius. Good work.

(no subject) +1
posted by Jellybean of Thark on October 27th, 2008 10:03 AM

Yeah. That's it.

(no subject)
posted by The Beekeeper on October 27th, 2008 10:40 AM

Beautifully executed! I was very interested to see how this one would turn out. Nice work and God Bless Craigslist!

(no subject)
posted by Myrna Minx on October 27th, 2008 3:13 PM

art and life blurred once again..


(no subject) +2
posted by susy derkins on October 27th, 2008 6:29 PM

Nobody is going to waste a perfectly good car bomb on a stranger.
The way you made this guy day/week, such a great story to tell for just $8 (with a bonus power inverter)!!!
So classy, thanks!

Set a High Bar
posted by Waldo Cheerio on October 28th, 2008 3:35 AM

I am so glad you took to the streets in commendable SF0 style for this one, as we can be sure of other completions pushed to higher levels of absurdity as a result. I am excited about this task anew. Hurrah Loki!

posted by GlyphGryph on October 28th, 2008 2:53 PM

Making a strangers day something extraordinary - heartily approved.

Great stuff. Love that he bagged the money, too.

(no subject)
posted by rongo rongo on October 28th, 2008 8:21 PM

Hee hee. Yeah, I guess it can be hard to walk that fine line between sounding too crazy and not crazy enough.

(no subject)
posted by Loki on October 28th, 2008 8:41 PM

Holy cow. 5enatored already. Thanks, all.

I figured this was a perfectly straightforward completion of a dumb little task. Worth a few tens of points at most. I guess there's no telling what will tickle the fancy of praxis-readers. (Something to keep in mind the next time you work really hard on something and it's met with an overwhelming "meh" from the voting public.)

(no subject) +1
posted by JJason Recognition on October 28th, 2008 9:13 PM

As I have said before, I have absolutely no idea what high quality tasking is.

(no subject)
posted by Mr Everyday on October 29th, 2008 5:22 AM

Yeah it's weird, I was shocked my simple bread-book got so many votes, and yet fishing for ducks and hiding things in trees, barely any.

The reason I voted for this praxis was the little touches in the back and forth between you and the buyer - just class. That and the 10 Kopek coins.

(no subject) +1
posted by Charlie Fish on November 9th, 2008 8:58 AM

I reckon it's all about how you tell the story. This is a great story.

As well as a great story, the things I tend to want to vote for are clever creativity, involving strangers, and self-imposed heart-racing fear. This task has at least one or two of those to some degree.

Oh, and nudity. Nudity always gets points.

(no subject) +1
posted by Myrna Minx on November 9th, 2008 9:09 AM

Yes, Mr. Fish, those are EXACTLY the things I vote for. I also vote for playful manipulation of public space and cathartic explorations of self.

[ADDED LATER] --most importantly, I vote for the conscious manipulation of everyday life into art,

(no subject)
posted by Neutron on June 12th, 2009 11:12 AM

Love it.

posted by River Rock on June 26th, 2010 7:35 PM

That was fun.