Monthly Archives: December 2010

The Value of a Thing Purchased

“People in my country buy something so that others can see it. People in your country buy something so that others can share it.”

A visiting student here in Santo Domingo made that comment to my Dominican teacher. He was from France, and what he experienced in the Dominican Republic was that very often his host family would buy things that could be enjoyed by others. Everything in the house was well-worn. The plastic chairs on the front patio, the sofa in the living room, the dining table, the dishes – nearly everything in the house had been used by the family, the extended family, the neighbors, the church members. Neighbors would come by to get water when there wasn’t any available in the community because the family put in a cistern so that they could provide more water to the family and to the neighbors.

To see it.


To share it.

I see sharing all the time here. People are so comfortable with other people using their stuff, I often wonder who’s the real owner of any property here in the barrio.

It makes me think about how many shiny things I bought that are still shiny and sitting in my room back home. I never really used it and nobody else did either. Why did I buy it? Good question. Why do we buy things anyway? For others to see it, or for others to share it?

My most valued experiences in Richmond came from when a group of friends and I shared an experience. At times, I felt like I should have purchased an Ford Econoline 350 so I could take more people on trips.

Someday I wanna have a huge house.

I want my house to be easy to get to and have plenty of parking. I want to have a big kitchen with a big island to set tons of food on so when I have parties people can mill around in the middle and talk about sports while dipping tostitos into big bowls of queso. I want to have a big common room with a huge TV and plenty of seating, and one of those old-timey movie popcorn machines that’s always well stocked. I want to have a big porch with a bbq grill and a big outdoor table where I can invite friends and family over and the kids can run around in the backyard, and tackle each other safely in the tall green grass. I want people to feel like they can stop by anytime, and if my friends from the Dominican Republic or anywhere else in the world come to visit they’ll be a big guestroom where they can set down their stuff and stay awhile.

Do I Have Enough Money for Two?

I’m sure you’ve gotten the chain email story about the young boy who sits down at a diner and asks the waitress how much two scoops of ice cream cost. When she replies with the cost, he only buys one scoop, so that he can leave her a tip.

I had an experience this week where I was walking the boys back from school. They wanted to stop into a local “colmado” (tiny store) to buy a “cosita” (a small item). Each boy was given five pesos (15 cents), and they had to be very careful on what they spent their money on, because they usually never get money.

We stepped inside and Josias yelled at the lady behind the counter to get him a piece of candy. She took his five pesos and gave him three back and went to get his candy. He stared at the money in his hand and looked back at her and said “Give me one more!” She dropped the gum into his hand and he handed it to me, and he waited patiently for her to get another piece of gum for him. He was now left with one peso and one piece of gum, he said to me “OK, let’s go Aaron.”

I was a bit shocked, Josias just smiled.

Maybe the best part of this story is that later on that evening when Josias’ gum got stale and he asked me for one more peso so that he could buy another piece of gum for himself. Haha.