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Money and Memory and Inequity

When I was young I had a friend. Maybe you had one like her. She was everything I wanted to be. Her life seemed so golden to me. Her mother never seemed to say 'no you cannot have that, it is not a good value.' I did not just want her clothes, I wanted her life. I doubt she ever knew I felt that way. She was so much that I was not. Things came easily to her, she was athletic and poised, and popular. Her family had different breakfast items than mine did, and hers were so much more interesting. (Of course, as the years went by, my feelings moderated. She had problems, like anyone. Her family had tough times, all families do. But I can remember just wanting to be her. Children do not have cute little child-sized emotions, children are fierce.)

Her mother was cooler than mine, younger too. My mother checked all the clothes she bought me for deep hems, that would stand to be let out, and she tugged every seam to see that it was not poorly sewn. She never let me buy my own shoes in peace, she went with me to make sure I chose something that would stand up to wear, and leave room to grow.  She did not buy snacks, or sugary drinks, she was frugal by habit. And it embarrassed me.

One day the young son of this family was at the  at the store at the same time as us.He was a nice boy, no malice in him, he had good manners, in a preoccupied teen kind of way. On this day he got some change back on something he bought, and we watched him take the pennies and nickels out. He threw them in the dirt and walked away. Leaving them behind.

My mother was spitting mad. "Never forget," she said, "Every coin is someone's work. Somebody somewhere worked for that money, and passed it on until it came to you. When you waste money, you are treating other people with disrespect. You are saying that their hard work has no meaning."

I am not sure I can be that mystical about money. Times have changed too, But This is sickening.



( 11 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 9th, 2013 04:11 am (UTC)
"Sickening" is exactly the word for it. And yet most of my students firmly believe that the reason poor people are poor is that they don't work hard enough and/or blow their money on things like beer and lottery tickets and drugs.
Dec. 9th, 2013 04:19 am (UTC)
Maybe time will teach your students more. I hope the learning is kind to them.
Dec. 9th, 2013 09:22 am (UTC)
We were very poor when I was younger. I recognise all those emotions you felt. And yes, I hate waste, I guess because we had little to waste back then!

BTW If we see money in the street we pick it up and put it in our charity pot. *g*
Dec. 9th, 2013 01:03 pm (UTC)
Yes. My mother had lived through the depression as a child. Then the war years. Compared to the people on your side of the pond the war was pretty easy, but she hated waste.
Dec. 9th, 2013 02:28 pm (UTC)
I don't really remember envying my best friend; yes, she had her own bedroom and never had to wear hand-me-downs, but her parents were German immigrants and they were every bit as frugal as mine. Like you, my parents came through the depression and war years and 'wasting food' was considered as much a sin as telling a lie. They both came from big Irish American families.
Dec. 9th, 2013 04:36 pm (UTC)
I knew it was bad like that (I listen to NPR, I can't help but know how much money the richest people have compared to everyone else), but it's still so depressing.

Even today, that boy's actions would make me frown. Yeah, a nickle or penny is worth next to nothing, but if you don't want them, donate the money!
Dec. 9th, 2013 06:35 pm (UTC)
He was not a bad kid-- just kind of thoughtless.
Dec. 10th, 2013 12:08 am (UTC)
Video is sobering... I still pick up change, including pennies, and as I get older it gets harder to bend and get it.
I see a lot of waste, stuff in the trash and recycling bins as I'm rounding it up. People buy bottled water, take one or two sips and throw the nearly full bottle away. Geez, they could take it home and put it in the refrigerator for next time they are thirsty.
Dec. 10th, 2013 01:37 pm (UTC)
Yes-- true.

Since his operation Yodel has been put on a new (and super expensive,) cat food that we have to buy at the vet. Yesterday I took the balance of the old food down to the hallway of our building and left a note with it. Other cat owners here can certainly use a months worth of cat crackers!

It was gone quickly.
Dec. 10th, 2013 10:39 pm (UTC)
Does Yodel eat the expensive food? If so, it's not such an expense. When our older dog was in her final years, the vet told us to get her some of the better foods. We spent and spent to get what she was supposed to have, but she would only eat the cheap fatty canned foods... the stuff that looked and smelled about the same after she ate it.
Dec. 10th, 2013 10:51 pm (UTC)
Yes - I have a box for all small coin and it raises more than I would ever have guessed if you asked me to estimate -so if I had thrown those 1p and 2p pieces away in a year they are he price of a months worth of breakfast at the childrens breakfast club- even in the wasteful world we inhabit the small can make a differnce
( 11 comments — Leave a comment )