A young man, about 17, knocked on my door today. He spent about 5 minutes chatting, telling me how he was earning points so he could go on a trip with his family and have money for college books. A good cause, sure. He was charming and charismatic, chatty and affable. He asked what I did, and said he earned 50 points because I was a "domestic goddess" and 40 points because I had been a lawyer. He was trying to practice communication, he said, and that earned him points. Great. So far so good. Then I asked the question I ought to have asked first, "What are you trying to sell?"
I am so tired of magazines. I don't need more. I have the ones I want - National Geographic, Runner's World, Bicycling, US News & World Report, Reader's Digest, Scouting, the Ensign and Friend (in three different languages!). Good grief! How many magazines do we need!
But I wanted to be nice and help him get his points, so after browsing through a brochure of pointless magazines (I don't want a Muscle magazine), I decided on Boys' Life. That's as good as any, better actually (for my boys). He beamed, and said he was an Eagle - since last week.
Lengthy spiel about how much we're saving off the cover price.
"You still didn't tell me how much."
Lengthy spiel about the difference between a 2-year subscription and a 3-year subscription, and about how we'd be getting a magazine every two weeks. Great, just what I need - a new magazine every two weeks. I tried to smile.
"So, how much is it?"
Finally he told me. Okay, I can handle that. $48 is doable for two years, although I'd rather do it a year at a time. How many Boys' Life magazines do we really need?
So while he chatted I got out my checkbook. I was trying to be nice and help him win his contest so he could go on a trip to Israel. "Ever been there?" he asked. "Yes." I didn't elaborate. I didn't tell him that I had actually worked in a real job to earn money to pay for my study abroad. I didn't tell him that I had also worked in school really hard to earn scholarship money to pay for my books and tuition. It didn't seem appropriate to tell him that. But that doesn't mean I wasn't thinking it. Good feelings were leaving.
He filled out his paperwork, got all my information, and handed me the paper to sign, pointing to the X and slightly covering up the tally.
The tally. I would've seen it eventually, since I had to write the check. I was not prepared for this.
"Why does it say $63?"
Oh, that's for shipping and handling, he explained. And part of it goes to charity, he added lamely.
Uh huh. I can write a check for $63 and ALL of it will go to charity, I thought to myself.
Still trying to be nice, I said, "Can't I just write you a check to help on your trip?"
No, he said, it's not legal. He was not being his charming self anymore.
"Can I hold on to this and think about it?"
No, he said. I can't come back.
"Doesn't $63 seem like a lot of money for a magazine?"
No, he said, he pays $12 a month for his Muscle magazine.
Well, if he has $12 a month for a Muscle magazine, he has money enough to save for books and a trip. I am not a happy lady any longer. He can choose to spend his money the way he wants, but he cannot expect me to step up and fill in the consequences of his choice.
I told him I'd have to pass, and I was sorry. His entire countenance fell and he was a very different person. His face turned red, his eyes hardened, he scribbled out my information, and marched out the door, muttering loudly, "It's always the rich people..."
Well, maybe in another part of my life I might have left that alone, but this is not that part. I was grown-up enough not to be furious, and kind enough not to beat him up, but the mother in me was not going to let the boy get away with that.
I took a moment to think over what had happened as I watched him (from the window) canvas the neighborhood. When he got to our backdoor neighbors' house, I walked out back and waited. It wasn't long until he came back from their door. I stopped him in the driveway.
I don't know if he thought I'd changed my mind or if he was scared, but he was certainly surprised to see me. I guess people don't chase after him much.
Nick, I said (I learned his name), I need to tell you something. You can't just walk out my door muttering, "rich people" like that. It is so wrong to judge people by what they have. It hurt my feelings.
He said he'd spent 3 years in India where people would give him the shirt off their back if he needed it.
This is not India, but I would give you a shirt if you needed it. My discretionary money is used for things like piano lessons, doctor's bills, car repairs, oh, and little things like groceries (we do have to eat!), and our other money goes to pay for our home. You can't assume that I am rich. The house I live in has to be paid for somehow.
And, I said, you cannot judge me by where I am. If it makes you understand me better, I'll share with you that I was homeless for months during my life. I am NOT my house, nobody is what you see them as - they are more. Much more. Nick, do not judge people so rashly. If I think $63 for a magazine (and to send you and your family to Israel) is not a wise use of my money, then let that be my choice and respect that.
He apologized, said he'd had a rough day, and that he was just being a stupid teenager. I know. You were. But you're also a very sweet teenager. And I was just explaining to you the lessons I would want my own sons to know.
It is so interesting the judgments passed on me during my life because of where I live - whether in a tent in a campground, a little rented house (that my girlfriends refused to use for a group date because it was...well, you know), the basement of my parents' home, or the house that we just built. I would rather this didn't happen, but it does. I hope I learn the lesson, too, and respect people for who they are, and not for what they buy - or do not buy.
Reading: I started "Left to Tell." I can not even imagine living through what Immaculee did. I am angry at her world for letting genocide happen - I thought we had evolved beyond that. I suppose there are parts of humanity that just are sick and wrong that will always be around for us to combat. Her relationship with God is inspiring, to say the least.
(Horatio Hornblower remains in the grasp of the French, to be rescued at a later date when I have time to read him again).
Running: Did 7 1/2 yesterday, and I'm using today as a forced rest day, but I did spend 1/2 hour doing some core work with my girls, just for fun.
O Henry Bars
I first tasted these last week and as soon as I got the recipe I made them (really, like within minutes of getting it). (I didn't cite the recipe owner just to maintain her privacy) So good! And, as a bonus, they are gluten free (if you need that - as long as your choc. chips and oats are made in gluten free environments).
1/2 C. melted butter
1 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. peanut butter
1/2 c. Karo syrup
1 tsp. vanilla
4 c. oats
6 oz (or 1 c.) choc. chips
Mix together first 5 ingredients. Heat until dissolved (microwave is great). Stir in oats and chips. Press into greased 9x 13 pan. Bake at 375 for 15 min. Do not overbake. Cut into bars.