Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Doing My Part to Stimulate the Economy


Class is going well, although I'm finding that I already know a lot of the material. But that's okay: it never hurts to review!

Today I wound up going on a major shopping spree. Actually, it started yesterday, when my brand-new fancy pen ran out of ink the second day I had it. Annoyed, I called the store, where I was promised a free refill cartridge. So today I went down there, got the cartridge, and also bought an inexpensive pen case to protect the pen.

But then the trouble started, because I wandered into a little boutique across the street, thinking I'd only stay a minute or two. This is what I call a "Rich Lady" store, the kind of place where I always chortle at the prices and then leave. This particular place, though, does have very nice clothing of the kind I love and can rarely afford: simple flowing linen skirts in tastefully neutral colors, for instance. Why is simpler clothing more expensive than clothing with hideous gew-gaws all over it?

The boutique was having a sale. I decided to try on a few things, just for laughs. I was the only person in the store, so the owner started bringing me more things to try on, pieces that would match the things I'd already tried on.

I liked several of them a lot. And they were on sale.

So I wound up buying three skirts and two shirts. They'll be good for work, for conferences, and for David and Danny's wedding. Still, I spent a lot of money, especially since I'd already bought two t-shirts earlier today. (That's not to mention what I bought earlier this week.) Gary, who's used to calming me down after I spend money, responded to my contrite e-mail with a precise financial analysis proving that we're fine. Thank you, dear!

Meanwhile, I did indeed go to the beach yesterday, as planned, although I didn't stay long because it was quite chilly. I got some nice stuff for A, though: an unbroken sand dollar, a piece of driftglass, a shell, an interesting rock. Afterwards, I had an excellent dinner with David, Danny, and their friend, the Other David. They live in apartments with views of the ocean, of which I was extremely jealous, although they're in the foggy part of town, so it's actually not considered as desirable by many people as other neighborhoods.

Anyway, so today I gave A his beach goodies. He seemed pleased by them, especially by the sand dollar; we had a relaxed chat and then I excused myself to go to dinner. On my way back from dinner, I ran into J, the other homeless guy who helped me find A yesterday. He was eating a meal that he said wasn't very good -- it didn't look very good, either -- and I asked if I could buy him something; he asked for money to get something from the grocery store. (I don't know if that's what he'll do with it or not, but I decided a long time ago that if I can afford to give and want to give, what the recipient does with the gift isn't my business.) Just then, though, J said, "Oh, look, here's your buddy!" and I turned around to find A.

My wallet contained twenties and ones. I often give A a $20, but I don't know J that well and didn't want to set a precedent. So I was going to give J my four ones, but with A there, I felt like I had to be fair. "Here's $2 for each of you," I said, but A handed his back.

"No, no, please help him. You're always helping me. Give it to him."

So I did. J looked worried, holding my $4, and said, "Can you afford this? I can give some of it back, really."

"No, no," I said. "That's fine. That's absolutely fine." (I was feeling guilty for being cheap after spending so much on myself!)

A smiled at me. "Thanks, Susan. Will I see you tomorrow?"

"Of course," I told him. Earlier, we'd both been wondering what kind of animal sand dollars are, and I'd told him I'd look it up tonight and get back to him tomorrow.

Meanwhile, J had been telling me how A watches out for him. A really is a very appealing and caring person, and I suspect those are even more valuable attributes on the street than they are in other places. When you depend on the kindness of strangers, and friends, being kind yourself is an essential part of building your survival network.

1 comment:

  1. Sand Dollars are Echinoderms; relatives of sea urchins, sea cucumbers, and sea stars (starfish). They are characterized by having penta-radial symmetry, and tube feet. What washes up on the beach is the skeleton of the original animal. They live in sandy areas, and use their tube feet to move through the sand.

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