Most people who have experienced money enjoy money, and not because it is pretty and smells good (which I’m assuming is a truth universally accepted by everyone). However, very few people look at their FIRST experience with money as the beginning of a lifelong journey, the path of which is dependent on how that experience went down. For example if a young boy steals his first dollar, the consequences can decide whether he will become a Priest (if he is caught and repents), a lawyer (if he gets caught but talks his way out of it), or a celebrity (if he gets caught and loses his Gatorade sponsorship.) If a boy finds a dollar he might grow up to be a philanthropist (if he puts the dollar in the church’s poor box), an entrepreneur (if he uses the dollar to buy a lemon and to make and sell lemonade), or a savvy investor (if he pays a bigger kid to beat up the kid selling lemonade, and then offers the lemonade kid protection for a small fee each month.)
My PaPa (my late grandfather, pronounced paw paw) gave me my first keyboard which changed the path of my life forever, as well as my first money in the form of a Tootsie roll jar containing sixty old nickels that PaPa had saved from when he was little (a miser from the get go). I got very excited because to me it weighed at least five thousand pounds, and if my dad was able to buy everything with his thin, light pieces of green paper, surely my jar of heavy, shiny silver metal would set me up for a life of ease and prosperity (two concepts I hadn’t quite grasped at the tender age of 4.) When I traded the money in at the bank and was given three dollars back, the irreparable damage was done.
From that point on I believed with a stalwart resolve that these three one dollar bills, which represented my former five-thousand pounds of insurmountable wealth, were invaluable. I often wonder if I am becoming a cheap, cynical miser because of my skewed valuation of the dollar. I take some comfort in knowing that there is not genetic link to miserliness, and also that you actually need to make money to be a miser by definition, so I should be safe as long as I remain unemployed.
As a thrifty, patient, and low-maintenance consumer of retail products, I believe that a “thank you” card is more than enough to thank someone for something they did for me. I apparently am in the minority with this belief, at least within my group of graduate student counterparts. They insist on buying $25 gift cards for our clinical instructors, donuts for the nurses (who never eat them), all in an attempt to thank them for doing what they already get paid to do, and what we already pay them to do. I think my clinical instructors have been amazing and deserve the expression of our gratitude, but I don’t feel like they try so hard each quarter to get the big payoff at the end; $25 to Applebee’s. For this reason, my verbal “thank you for being an awesome professor” is worth more than 20 hot wings and two Bud Light tall boys, in my opinion.
How to Take Money out of the Thank You, and put the Thank You into the Purse
I regret slightly that I cannot solely take credit for the following Good Idea because “I only take cash. Sorry.” This is what the girl said who sold me what I consider the muse for my current airplane safety themed fashion line, which I affectionately call “Exit-Door Couture”. Her use of unorthodox materials inspired me. After creating many fashion accessories, all still in use now (and unfortunately not ever photographed) I took a hiatus, mostly because no one I knew recently went on a flight so I ran out of material for which to create my next masterpiece.
Then as if by serendipity, my current clinical instructor profusely complimented my wallet on the same day that my beautiful and sneaky wife brought home a safety manual to study because she wanted to make sure she was prepared, and especially to brush up what to do in the case of a water landing. This manual, a completely different pattern and color palate as the other airlines that I had used, was perfect for creating what is now the only purse in my “Exit-Door Couture” line.
How could my professor not feel appreciated? Not only will her purse be the “height” of fashion, but if her plane ever has an emergency and for some reason all the safety manuals are gone (for example, some jerk or jerk’s wife stole them all) she can calmly pull out her purse, stand from her seat (as long as the Captain has turned off the seat-belt light), and heroically direct the passengers to safety. Unless of course she is on a different airline, then they are all screwed…
I still gave my $5 towards the gift card, but we presented it to her in the purse. I guess this means the purse is good enough to hold the expensive gift card, but not good enough as a gift by itself. I still believe that the sentimentality of my free, handmade purse will overshadow the Starbucks card’s monetary value. I’m not saying the purse will become a family heirloom, but it has a better chance of becoming one than an empty Starbuck’s gift card does. I wish I could go back to the four-year-old John G at the bank that day and teach him the value of sentiment so that he wouldn’t sell PaPa’s coins for three dollars. Then I would teach four-year-old John G the current value of sixty 1913-1916 Buffalo Nickels, which at that time was approximately $7,200.00.