We finished up with D&L’s floor tile in the late morning. They invited me to stay for lunch, and I naturally accepted because ham. And in the course of the ensuing conversation, D tried to slip me twenty bucks. That’s on top of the other twenty bucks I already made today, selling the old wood stove to the trucker guy for its scrap value. Sorry, Landlady. And how did I get it into town? On D’s trailer. 187 pounds, if anybody wondered. So it’s not like he owed me anything in the first place.
Anyway, I turned D’s money down and reminded him that if he and L hadn’t rearranged their schedules to get me to eye doctor appointments, I’d have had to risk the law and the Jeep to do it myself. Not to mention the way they’ve been regularly letting me tag along on shopping trips to town, which has done wonders for my standard of living. My problem with resupply isn’t so much money as transport. If I can get to town once a week, I can eat actual green vegetables. I’ve been living out of sacks and cans for several years now, and a head of romaine lettuce and a bag of carrots is a treat. Probably the only reason I still have all my teeth is that certain people have sent me large bottles of vitamin pills. Which I religiously take. So – what I was saying – I liked it that they had asked me to help them unload those tiles, because as far as I was concerned I had already gotten paid.
The point of the story is, in a basic economy everything is a commodity. Services that cost you little or nothing, like a ride to town you were taking anyway, can be of great value to somebody else in the right setting. Prepping and/or withdrawal isn’t just for people with gold coins. A guy with nothing but a reliable backhoe and a way to transport it could make a good living around here. That trucker guy? He collects scrap and hauls it to the city, but that’s barely enough to pay his costs. Where he makes money is on the return, which would be pure deadhead if he didn’t let it be known he had space on his trailer for large bulky items, and charge slightly less than the normal shipping charges would be for stuff people had ordered. All he’s got is an old Freightliner, an older forklift, a flat bed trailer, and the ability to keep it all sort-of running. He’s not getting rich, but his family is eating.
Charity is all very well. I’m not going to knock it, it’s the charity of TUAK readers that’s paying for these doctor visits. But in a (oh god he’s really going to use the term) sustainable community, the best financial relationships are of the value-given-for-value-received variety. But “financial” definitely doesn’t have to involve money.