In honor of the announcement that eBay Radio was ending in its current format this summer and being reborn as a podcast, I wanted to tell my Griff story.
Jim “Griff” Griffith, of course, is one of the most recognizable faces of eBay. He’s probably the only actual employee of eBay most members know at all. He’s done a fantastic job over the years being a liaison to the community and all around fun and knowledgeable personality. He’s also one of the hosts of eBay Radio.
My Griff story starts with the 2007 eBay Live in Boston, the only eBay Live I ever actually attended. Griff is almost a celebrity there and he was a feature of several panels and talks that we attended (including a live eBay Radio broadcast which I literally did not know was a thing at that point in my eBay selling… how ironic that many years later now I’m a multi-time repeat guest!).
If you never attended, eBay live was a strange event where there were talks and workshops and educational things but also a lot of fun like random music cues that meant you got free pins and parties and whatnot. The eBay swag flowed like water and I completely understand why they stopped doing the event because it must have cost them a fortune. On the last night of eBay Live, they threw a huge party with lots of fun and a band. There was also a ton of eBay swag, light up toys, frisbees, plastic jewelry, you name it.
At the end of the event, a lot of this swag was just left discarded on the floor and the convention staff was throwing it out. Being the opportunistic eBay seller that I am, I saved as much of it from the trash as I could and, as soon as we got home, I listed it on eBay. I expected things like the collectible pins and special eBay Live bag to sell but I was surprised when the little felt eBay pendant flag I’d listed just for the heck of it sold. After all, it didn’t even say the year on it, it was just the eBay Live logo on boring white. But years of eBay have told me that there is a market out there for just about anything so I’m forming this mental image of who this person is who could be buying this, someone who couldn’t go but just wanted a little inexpensive momento of eBay Live and didn’t really care if it was something fancy… when I stopped dead when I saw the ship to address.
The buyer was Griff. Griff, Griff. Having me ship this thing to his actual eBay office.
And my first thought, honest to god, was, am I in trouble? Were we not supposed to sell the swag on eBay? Is this a sting operation? If I send this to him, am I going to get busted and be on some kind of super secret double probation?
Then I convinced myself this was crazy talk. Of course you were allowed to sell the stuff, eBay doesn’t care. I started to pack the item and then something else hit me.
What if this is a test? What if eBay is having me ship this to see if I ship it well enough and, if I don’t Griff will make an example of me?
And all of this seems a little silly to write out now but the truth is, I couldn’t imagine why the heck he would be buying this thing if it wasn’t for some corporate reason. He was there at eBay Live same as I was! He WORKS for eBay for goodness sake! Surely there is a whole box of these generic little white pendants in his very office??
And for these reasons I was incredibly nervous when I packed up the item and shipped it to him. I was even more nervous after I shipped it and I knew it had arrived. I became increasingly convinced that I hadn’t packed it well enough and that the little dowel had snapped and if this was some kind of shipping test, oh, I was going to fail for sure!
Time passed. Nothing happened. No other shoe dropped. Ebay did not come down on me for selling the random swag I found in the trash. Griff did not report me for bad packaging or other evils.
When he eventually left positive feedback it was so generic I became convinced he meant it passive aggressively because the dowel HAD broken and now he was just really disappointed with me for selling that flag I wasn’t supposed to sell and then packing it poorly to boot and now we would never be friends. And I really wanted to be friends with Griff. I think, deep down, we all do.
A few years later, I was on eBay radio for the very first time. At the end of my segment, I told the story on the air of how I had once sold an item to Griff. He laughed as I talked about how I could not understand why he was even buying this thing from me and I confessed how worried I had been that the dowel might break in shipment. And then, after having bared all, I asked him to explain this mystery once and for all. Why HAD he spent $5 and shipping to have this silly little pendant shipped to him when they were giving them out free at an event he was at and surely there was some other way he could get one? And HAD the dowel arrived unbroken? Was he really pleased with his purchase?
And as I finished this tale Griff chuckled and took a breath and I thought I was finally going to get an answer to all my questions when instead he… went to commercial.
And then they were on to the next guest. He left me hanging. In dozens of the times I have been on eBay Radio since then, Griff never answered the question of what the heck was going on with that eBay purchase. The mystery remains.
But there is a silver lining! I was on the Seller Secrets panel at eBay On Location in 2012 and Griff was the host. At one point in the panel, I mentioned something about my newest play and Griff interrupted me to say, “Wait a minute. How did I not know you were a playwright? Hillary, I thought we were friends!”
And there was something fuzzy and funny about the fact that, for all my worries over that stupid flag, here I was friends with Griff in the end anyway.