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WTF Friday: Some Has, And Some Don’t Has February 17, 2011

Posted by J. in Genius.
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My friend Greg stopped by Tuesday morning like he does on most Tuesday mornings. “Hey! It’s the bread man!” I crow happily, and put on my shoes and a jacket and follow him out into the cold.

In the back of his pickup truck is a large assortment of bread, English muffins, donuts, and rolls from the Country Kitchen bread outlet.  If you’re unfamiliar with the notion of a bread outlet, it’s where the guys who deliver bread to your local grocery store take the stuff that they’ve pulled from store shelves for being too close to their sell-by date.  The outlet store marks them down and sells them until they get right up to their sell-by, when they stack them on pallets and sell them to farmers to feed to their livestock.  Greg raises chickens and pigs and a seven-dollar truckload of bread a week helps keep them fat and warm during the winter months and stretches his grain budget as well.

My grandmother's idea of dessert was half a plain donut with cling peaches and a dollop of Dream Whip on it. Fucking decadence, man.

The upside for me is that he swings by the house and we go through and pick out an armload of bread that’s not too squished or too far past it’s sale date to stretch our food budget as well.  This week I got two packages of Sunbeam English Muffins, two loaves of Canadian White bread, three boxes of donuts, and a store-brand whole grain white for the kids.  The retail cost of those 9 items comes to just over 22 dollars, more than three times what Greg paid for the whole truckload.

I don’t feel bad about it at all.   I have no problem with day-old baked goods.  Especially mass-produced bread like Country Kitchen.  Everyone knows that it’ll keep well past its suggested sell-by date (which is really just a suggestion, anyway) because it’s so full of preservatives, and if it gets a bit stale…well, stale bread is fine for toast.  Or bread crumbs.  Or homemade croutons.

I said in Wednesday’s post that I hoped my kids didn’t know we were poor and Bezzie had a wise observation:  “I do gotta say though, I kinda hope my boys know we don’t have a lot of money. Makes them appreciate a fine meal when they get one!”

You know, Bezzie has a point, and I said as much to Greg as he was leaving.  I expressed the idea that everyone should be poor–truly poor–at some time in his life.  It’s humbling to choose your daily bread from the back of a pickup truck.

And while it’s true that you don’t have to have ever been broke to have the motivation to be generous, I believe that knowing what it’s like to be in a position to take help changes both the motivation to give and the attitude of the gift. It’s been my experience that it’s those who have little are the ones who are most likely to be mindful of those who have less.

I mention this because just this week, the TLC channel has been running commercials for its new show called “Outrageous Kid Parties.”  It’s in the same spirit as “My Super Sweet 16” on MTV, but with little kids.  The commercial shows a mother going buck-fucking-wild planning a princess party for her daughter who is turning six.  During the commercial we learn that she’s spending FIFTEEN THOUSAND DOLLARS on this party.

You heard me.

I’m pretty used to the sensational over-the-topness of TLC’s programming, so I didn’t actually shout WHAT THE FUCK at the TV, but I sort of let the idea of spending 15 grand on a birthday party roll around in my brain.  You know what I thought of?

One in five people in a soup kitchen line in the US is a child. Talk about WTF.

Fifteen thousand dollars to make a six-year old feel like a princess for a day.  You know what makes my six-year-old feel like a princess?  Sitting on a stack of couch cushions wearing a plastic tiara from the dollar store and a towel pinned around her neck.

And what of that six-year-old who is getting the fantasy birthday of a lifetime?  What’s going to happen when she turns 7?  Or 8?  How is mom going to top it next year?  What if, God forbid, she can’t?  I looked at those people and wondered if they gave a thought to the kids in their own community who would be going to bed hungry the night their little princess blew out her candles.

Now, for all I know these people volunteer at their local homeless shelter and donated a million dollars to charity last year.  But the crazed look in the mother’s eyes and the way the dad asked “Am I broke yet?” with a resigned, half-assed sigh made me think that this isn’t their first foray into conspicuous consumption, and that their “no expense is too great” attitude only extends as far as their front door.

The upside to not being rich, as Bezzie pointed out, is that kids who are brought up with less find greater delight in what they do have.   My kids’ taste buds are tantalized by hamburger gravy over potatoes, so come summer when I splurge on steak tips for the grill, it blows their little minds.  And it doesn’t end at the dinner table, either.  When they get a Christmas stocking full of dollar store toys, it’s truly a bounty fit for a princess.  They think it’s AWESOME that the tooth fairy leaves a couple of one dollar scratch tickets under their pillow.  When Tanta and Baboo take them to Boston to stay overnight in a hotel, it’s like Disney-freaking-world.  My kids have never driven a battery-powered Escalade but they’ve driven the tractor, and what’s more important, they took it to the gardens where they helped plant and harvest the vegetables that will be distributed by the food pantry come Fall.

"Find out how much God has given you and from it take what you need; the remainder is needed by others." St. Augustine

 

My kids are well-acquainted with the expression “You don’t need it,” and I suspect that as they mature, they’ll understand the unspoken subtext: “You have what you need; the rest is for someone else.”

No, we might not have any extra money, but we have just enough, and we always seem to find a little bit more to share with those that have less than we do.

There are some things money just can’t buy.

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Comments»

1. http://tinyurl.com/savrcobb27843 - February 6, 2013

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I really treasured every particular element of this blog
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