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One of our own, CTMichaels, is in the market for a new place. Like a lot of people, he’s going to be looking on Craigslist (CL) for the apartment and/or roommate of his dreams. Because Craigslist is the place where copy goes to die, I pleaded (nay, begged) CT to let me have a crack at his advertisement. Below is what he had in mind.
The CT Housing Project
23 year old, professional male searching for apartment/bedroom/roommates in Manhattan, jersey City, Hoboken, Long Island City, or any place that has a 10-15 minute commute. Looking to pay around 750 or less, maybe $800 Ha. Ideally I would like to be able to move into a place ASAP, January 1. (I want to get rid of my car and not fork out 800 bucks to change the title, registration, etc.) So now is the perfect time.
About me: I like to have a good time. I laugh at almost everything. I’m clean at home, just not in my cube. I smoke cigs, not inside though – like 6 a day actually. I am the type of person to go to a bar after work and come home late, sleep, go to work and do it again. I like to sleep in on the weekends and then go out at night. I like ridiculous music and hate silence. I love reality TV, big brother is my favorite show. I am very respectful, as are my friends that I would have over from time to time.
About you: Someone to chill with and have a beer from time to time. Want to go to happy hours and stuff. Have a job. Know how to have a good time.
hit me up at firstname.lastname@example.org
CT was a good sport to let me rip this apart. And this is by far not the worst ad one might find on CL. It’s in mostly complete sentences; a lot of important details are included; it is in a recognizable language. Not one emoticon or ASCII picture in sight. It’s not like this ad is going to be bound in the finest leather and placed on the bookshelf, so it doesn’t have to be perfect, but it does have to be close.
Here’s how I would edit it.
Young professional male looking for roommate
I’m a 23 year old, professional male searching for an apartment or roommates in Manhattan, Jersey City, Hoboken, Long Island City, or any place that is easily accessible by public transportation. Looking to pay around $750 but would go as high as $800 a month. Ideally I would move between now and January 1.
About me: I like to have a good time and have a good sense of humor. I’m a clean guy. I smoke, but not indoors. I don’t have any pets but if you have one, that’s okay. I am the type of person who isn’t home a lot, as I am very busy with work and social events, but on the weekends I like sleeping in and relaxing. I love reality TV; Big Brother is my favorite show. I like music and hate silence, but I’m not overly loud. I am very respectful, as are my friends that I would have over from time to time.
About you: Male or female, it doesn’t matter to me, with a paying job. Someone to chill with and have a beer with once in a while.
Hit me up at email@example.com if you’d like to talk.
I changed the title just because I have a feeling that any CL ad with “housing project” in it will yield some interesting and unwelcome results. Also, unless someone clicks on the ad, they won’t know what CT is. Connecticut? Carrot top? It could be confusing.
I also cut out the part about the car because a potential roommate probably doesn’t care. Just to make sure the non-car aspect of CT was clear, I added the bit about public transportation.
I fiddled a lot with CT’s description of himself. I love the kid, don’t get me wrong, but no one should be allowed to write descriptions of themselves for an ad. It always comes out weird. For example, I know what he means when he says he laughs at everything; he’s a fun-loving guy. But a complete stranger might read that and think, “Holy crap, everything? Hmmmm, I dunno, sounds like he’s crazy.” I also cut out the part about how many cigarettes he smokes a day. None of their business! If you’re smoking outside, then that’s that. Oh, and I threw in the thing about pets. I have no idea if it’s true or not, but every roommate ad should cover four things: your level of smoking, drinking, animal loving, and partying.
Also, you see how I turned that party animal line into a more positive statement? A potential roommate could go from thinking “oh great, he’s going to break the lamp when he comes home that late” to “sweet, I’ll have the place to myself all the time.”
I also replaced the twice-used phrase “from time to time” so it sounded less repetitious. And I added the part about male and female roommates being welcome because it seemed important to specify one way or the other. Then a little bit of punctuation and capitalization clean-up and it’s good to go.
Maybe my version of CT’s ad is a little more staid and a little less . . . honest. But I am confident that it will generate some interest. In the meantime, if you would like to be CT’s roommate, please leave a comment here. I told him I would be collecting a commission.