I don’t have a lot of money. In Life #1, before I took on the Quest to be a working writer, I was a partner at an advertising agency: a Mad Woman. I made a bunch of money back then, and spent it recklessly – and same as now, there never seemed to be any left. Today, I live on one-quarter of what I used to make. I am both shocked at how hard it is, and even more alarmed, and often shamed, when I realize how little I can live on and still survive, compared to my ex-life.
Today was a beautiful Saturday, I’d been working awful hard, and I really just felt like I wanted to get out, walk the streets, and treat myself. I had a $50 bill left from a birthday gift, so I slipped it into my pocket and set off, deciding I would try to shop with a rule of thumb in mind: purchase things from small businesspeople only for the rest of the day. People like me.
First thing I bought was a good fake Patek Philippe watch on the street. That probably crosses all sorts of moral lines for a lot of people, but hey, they’re still individual vendors, trying to make a living. Then a hop up the street to a hip Japanese shop, where I spied a cool little white stapler – just what I needed! (Full disclosure: I thought this store was just a fab one-off, but it turned out to be an international chain. I really think I can’t be blamed, since everything in the store was written in Japanese. I guess that should have been a hint, but I thought it was an affectation.)
Next, a walk among the street vendors. Here I bought a hot-looking leather bracelet for a friend’s birthday. A little more wandering, and by now I’d gotten hungry. Shoehorned into the oddest little space – the whole restaurant was probably ten feet wide and 35 feet long, with a few tables scattered outside – was a taqueria. I got myself an early dinner, sat outside, and watched the world go by. A drop-in at a candy shop on my way home (season’s first candy corn!), and my spree was complete. Oh, except for a man who I gave some change to on the subway. His wish to me: “Here’s to a better day tomorrow. Bless you and your family.” How could tomorrow get any better than this?
This was a pricey afternoon for me, even though I came in under a Benjamin at $98.20. But I had helped four working stiffs like me, a person with no job at all, and, mistakenly, one Japanese conglomerate. And that’s how the world works. Money changing hands, one dollar at a time.
Stimulate the economy.