Posts Tagged ‘cheap’
Without an immediate care in the world, I take down my ramen from the communal microwave, an appliance that looks older than I am. Before I have the pleasure of digging, one of my roommates asks:
Is that chorizo?
No, it’s ramen. That’s why I have empty ramen bags out.
I love chorizo — Why wouldn’t I? It’s a sausage by equal turns spicy, greasy and made of meat. Unfortunately, like most meats not packaged in The Jungle and sealed in vacuum-wrapped factory plastic, it’s too expensive for my tastes.
It sure smells like ramen. Well, what’s in it?
One Top Ramen flavoring packet, a chopped-up hot dog, garlic powder and hearty amount of what the good folks at McCormick call “Italian Seasoning.” Oh, and about a gallon of Tapatio.
Cautiously, as if my tacky soup bowl might jump out and bite her, she approached my bacheloric combination of Mexican spice, Italian seasoning, American meat, Japanese noodles and my hometown‘s claim to fame.
She took a good whiff, almost immediately declaring it chorizo. I voiced skepticism.
No, look — my mom’s coming today, and she’s Mexican. I’ll ask her.
Almost as soon as she spoke, the doorbell rang. Her mother’s first words, to my roommate:
How are you doing, today, m’ija … is that chorizo?
It almost makes we want to actually buy some of the real stuff. Then I remember that, apparently, I don’t have to.
I’ve been loosing the pursestrings a little, lately, as much as my reputation as a miser had pleased me. It’s a bit of an experiment. This has been a rather successful experiment, by any appropriate measure.
One of my new coworkers needed a ride back to the office from the school we were training at. He seemed trustworthy, and a decent sort of chap, so I gave him one.
My instinct was to charge him gas money, prices being what they are, but, for whatever reason, I swallowed the impulse. This ride was on the house.
It exponentially blossomed from there.
The next day, I forgot my wallet. He paid for my half of a Grande Meal from Taco Bell, out of the same stores of goodwill I had only a day earlier traded to him. Another day, we were about to buy a pizza, but because it turned out that he didn’t have cash, only card, I paid and shared. He needs a ride most days, so we carpool regularly. He slipped me a $20 bill the other day, without my asking, because of it.
There’s enough back-and-forth that, financially, we’re even, or close enough that I can fairly call it a wash. To boot, we’ve each gained quite a bit of goodwill, at no cost to either of us. We each genuinely like the other’s company, or have grown to.
If I kept better track of my money, — say, down to the very last nickel — I’d have fewer friends. To think: I always believed that because money can’t buy friends, it doesn’t affect them, either.
So very wrong.
Given how my dad stressed the importance of unerring, militant frugality, I always assumed that living within a strict, barebones budget was responsible.
That’s why, when the time came, I really didn’t want to buy a floor lamp at Target. Floor lamps that don’t fall apart after college are rather mightily expensive, and my financial status is not so secure that I can afford a mightily expensive floor lamp that doesn’t fall apart.
Not like that changed anything: I had to buy a lamp. Despite my personal misgivings, and my cherished personal reputation as a bit of a Scrooge, I knew I had no other choice. I broke a friend’s lamp, and now I had to replace it.
I could’ve hidden behind my excuses. I can’t afford it — that’s the truth. I’m helping you move, so cut me a little slack — I was, and they could have. It looks like it’s working fine, it’s just that the head is wobbly — it did; that’s all seemed wrong with it, even if I know better now.
I could have gone cheap — that lamp looked tacky, cheap and nothing at all like the lamp I was supposed to replace. I would have gained very little goodwill. Most likely, I’d have lost some, and nearly a friend in the process.
Sometimes, I’ve only recently learned, it’s in the best interests of even the thrifty to bite the bullet. That’s going to be a tough bullet to swallow.