Remember when we were kids and we used to trade each other for various things we wanted? As I was flipping through an old photo album I stumbled across several pictures of a much-younger me visiting my family in Italy.
The first few pictures were taken while we shopped at an Italian market in Palarmo, not too far from where my parents lived at the time. What I remember most about being in the market was the ease at which people bartered or haggled over the price of merchandise. After watching everyone around me haggle back and forth, I decided to give it a try. Oy! Let’s just say I can add haggling to the list of things I’m not good at.
While on vacation in Paris I saw a pair of oversized-white sunglasses that I absolutely had to have. I’m sure you know the kind I’m talking about. These sunglasses are huge and cover most of a person’s face. Why I had to have these—I don’t know. Only God himself knows where the crazy notion came from. When we stumbled upon a vendor selling them I decided I try and get the price down to next to nothing. Not! The Frenchman wouldn’t budge. Finally, I gave up and proceeded to complain about the man’s inflexibility. My father, bless his heart, kindly went over to the man, chatted for a few minutes, and the next thing I knew I was the proud owner of a pair of useless—albeit dirt-cheap—sunglasses. If that don’t beat all!
As I look at these pictures I can’t help but wonder if there are ways that we, in this culture, can trade our time, skills, and extra resources for things that we need, but maybe can’t afford or don’t have the expertise to complete successfully. I like the idea of trading because each person gives a little something to the deal and each walks away with something they wanted or needed in return. For example, let’s say I’m a web designer and I need my manuscript edited. Wouldn’t it be cool to barter services and work out a deal to provide web design services in exchange for a full edit? I’m not sure how I’ll use bartering in the future, but it’s something I want to be mindful of.
What do you guys think? Does any of this make sense? Do you think you’d ever try it?