Today the kids got a quick lesson in barter. The other day I wrote about how someone at work asked me to bring in eggs. They wanted some fresh cage-free eggs. Not a problem, we have plenty and I started thinking about making a couple dollars a day with this new endeavor. Last night I went to the office after I got the grandkids to bed. I brought in two cartons of eggs. One carton had a dozen eggs, the other a dozen and a half. I priced them at twenty cents an egg so the cost was $2.40 and $3.60 respectively. That's a good price for fresh cage-free fertile eggs. (Ok, I didn't say they were fertile because people get freaked out about that) Today I worked at home but had to run into town in the late afternoon. I brought the grandkids into the office with me to do some things that I couldn't take care of at home. When I finished we went into the break room and the eggs were right where I had left them yesterday. The eggs and the container for people to put the money into sat on the table. My money jar was empty. I don't understand. They asked me to bring them in. After a bit of grumbling I took the eggs out to my truck and left the office.
On the way home we pass several vegetable stands. There's one stand in particular that has great produce. Sometimes you go to vegetable stands and you know that they bought the vegetables somewhere else and are just trying to make you think that they are fresh and local. In this case, the rows of vegetables are growing are right behind the stand. This stand always has great strawberries. Our strawberry plants are still young and we aren't going to get any strawberries on them for another month or so. I pulled the truck over, grabbed the eggs, and went up to the stand.
"I've got some fresh eggs here, I'd like some strawberries. Can we trade?" The person at the counter said just a second he'll go ask. He disappeared into the enclosed room. A couple of seconds later another man came out. I asked him if I could trade the eggs for the strawberries. He said that the first person went to ask their father but sure, he'd give me three baskets of strawberries for the eggs. Deal.
I came back to the truck and the kids wanted to know what I did. I told them that I swapped. They remembered the word barter from Schoolhouse Rock, this for that, that for this. They wanted to know if we swapped because I don't have any money. No, I have money I just didn't want to spend it. I also had plenty of eggs, and anything at all can be used as "money" if the other person is willing to take it in exchange.
The best part about this, other than the delicious strawberries, is that I swapped the eggs and stayed anonymous. The people I swapped with don't know me, they don't know where I live, they don't know that we have a huge garden, chickens, sheep, or anything other than they got some good looking eggs in exchange for strawberries. I'm sure they think they got the best deal. Isn't that what barter is all about?
All it takes is the guts to ask. Try it sometime.