Wednesday, October 26, 2005

new jeans

I'm sitting here in new jeans today. The last time I bought a pair of pants was two years ago, so this is an 'event', lol. Actually, I didn't buy these. I've been giving English lessons to two adorable children and their father makes jeans. I said I'd work for pants. I often do that - all last year I gave English lessons in exchange for ironing. I love working for what the French call 'troc'. (exchange) It's more fun than getting paid, and when you can help each other out at the same time it's even better. I have five bushels of apples I got when I helped a friend clear out an old orchard, and in exchange for watching three kids today, I got three pumpkins and three winter squash!
In Argentina a couple years ago, when the economy crashed, there was no more money circulating and everyone paid by 'troc'. People baked cakes and made pizzas for example, and brought them to a huge warehouse where other people had knitted sweaters, brought old clothes, or anything they could exchange for something they needed. And while we don't actually go that far here in France, three times a year there are toy, book, and clothing sales where you bring your old, unwanted things to the school gymnasium and either swap or sell what you have.
I wish I could get rid of my sons' old Nintendo games, but they claim they will be worth lots of money in fifty years...

5 comments:

Daisy Dexter Dobbs said...

Loved, loved, loved this post. :-) Your story is reminiscent of tales I’d heard from both sets of my grandparents when I was a kid. My mother’s side was from Greece and my father’s from Ireland. As different as these cultures were, they had the exchanging of services in common. It was a time-honored, accepted and expected way of life. The use of money (when people even had any) was considered cold and unfriendly.

I understand that it was similar here in the U.S. many years ago, too. I know that there is at least one organization set up (sorry, I can’t remember the name) that exists solely for the purpose of bringing swappers (not of the wife-swapping type LOL) together to exchange services and items.

I love the concept and wish it were more prominent. I’m on a few online Freecycle chat lists where people give away things that they no longer need for free. These are great! It gives me a warm and wonderful feeling when I see a young mother with strapped finances able to collect the necessities for her children at no cost. And then there are the wonderfully bizarre offerings that make me wonder who it was that snapped them up and why. Sparks my imagination.

One of the nicest things about exchanging is that is helps people to connect with one another, person to person. Society today is so fast paced and impersonal, and the idea of getting together to bargain, deal, offer and suggest harkens back to friendlier, simpler times.

Personally, I’m a garage sale and thrift store junkie. I love the experience of digging through someone else’s junque and discovering my very own newfound treasure. And it gives me a great opportunity to stop and chat with others who are doing the selling or shopping. Since I’m usually chained to my computer for hours on end, this person-to-person activity is positive and healthy for me, not to mention very enjoyable. Another benefit to doing this is finding little pieces of people’s lives, like old yearbooks or photo albums or scrapbooks, because they frequently inspire my writer’s mind with new stories and characters.

Best of all, Sam, is that you found a man who makes jeans. Wow! Seeing as it’s so hard to find jeans that fit and don’t cost a fortune, I’d say you found a gem!

Sam said...

Thanks Daisy,
I love swapping things - I guess it's from growing up with a big family. However, as you point out, wife swapping is not an option, lol. I think everyone is strapped for finances at least once in their lives and trade can be very helpful. I love the toy and clothing fairs here, and I (this is the truth) buy 99% of my clothes at the thrift shop!

Cheyenne McCray said...

I used to barter when I was in sales, and I always thought that was fun. Not so easy to do with writing since I don't write anything outside of books. LOL. And jeans...I refuse to buy new ones 'til I get these 5-10 pounds off so that my jeans fit better. Right now they're so "snug" they give me a spare tire!

Sam said...

Well, I was (am) wearing my new jeans today and my daughter said, tilting her head critically - 'Mom, those jeans make you look chubby.'
Ahhh....Kids.

Wynn Bexton said...

I think swapping is a great system.
Here flea markets and garage sales are a popular event. I think in Greece (in the villages for sure) swapping is still practiced.