Sunday, June 15, 2014
WIZARD OF BARTERING
Most people who know me now would not believe how shy I was in those days, but she was instrumental in "bringing me out of my shell". She gave me some of the best advice I have ever had: "Find out everything you can about people because it comes in handy." She would frequently say, "So-and-So knows that/has that/does that/wants that." She had that uncanny ability to recall important--and useable --traits about people. When I mention about the importance of "knowing and using resources", I always remember where I learned it. For example, her daughter needed a "fancy dress" for a school function. She could not afford to buy one but she knew that one of our co-workers was also a seamstress. She bartered with her: she did house cleaning for her and the woman made the dress. She would trade clothes from her kids with other mothers. I told her that she was the "Wizard Of Bartering".
She worked a second job as a bartender on Friday and Saturday nights and she would barter for babysitting ("You take care of my kids; I'll do something for you.") People liked to barter for her cakes, as she was an accomplished baker.
She was routinely coming up with ways "to make a little extra money". I rode to work with her, and every morning, before picking me up, she would have already stopped at Atkinson's Bakery to pick up a selection of doughnuts and pastries. She paid 25-cents apiece for the goodies and she would sell them at work for 30-cents each. I reminded her that "time is money", but she said, "It takes 15 minutes to get the doughnuts and I would be stopping there anyway and then at work, it takes maybe 15 minutes more to collect the money." Very rarely she didn't sell all the doughnuts; she recurrently made a profit of $1.20 per day selling doughnuts. She said that the doughnut sales paid for her gas. She drove a big old station wagon which was no doubt a gas guzzler, but with four kids she needed a big car and she was "Mom's taxi", taking her kids, and kids from the neighborhood, places. Of course, she bartered when chauffeuring the neighbors' kids.
She was an "earth mother" and a "mother lion"; she scared teachers and sports coaches and anyone else who dared impugn her children. She definitely did the best she could.
When she and I would go to flea markets and yard sales, she would haggle with sellers which I was too embarrassed to do, but I would not hesitate to let her "do it" for me! I was successful in getting her to use the term "haggle" rather than a derogatory ethic term she had used. She said, "I didn't know it was bad!" She would buy stuff at flea markets and take the items to work to sell because she was constantly "selling something"!
She came to my first yard sale and changed sticker prices because she said that my prices were "too cheap"! I had 10 paring knives marked at 10-cents each and I hadn't sold a single one; she put $1.00 on them and I sold all of them.
She also ran the "dollar drawing" at work on payday. In case you do not know what a "dollar drawing" is: each person who participates writes his/her name on a dollar bill and puts it in the pot; whichever name is drawn is the winner of the pot. She had to stop that "gambling" when a disgruntled player told the Company about it; the person was upset because she didn't receive 100% of the pot because my friend kept 10% of the pot as the "fee for processing". Undaunted, she told the usual bettors, "Meet me up at Jessie's after work to play." (That was Jessie's Truck Stop) The owner of Jessie's didn't "cotton to" that activity and she said, "Meet me at the bar!"
She was our "Hell-on-wheels" Steward. When writing a grievance, she would say, "Give me a good word." When she was off work for a carpal-tunnel operation, I was her replacement Steward. When several co-workers became upset with me, she defended me, but lectured, "You got to stop being such a smart-ass!" I asked, "Isn't that the pot calling the kettle black?" She insisted on 50/50 drawings at Union meetings. Whenever there was a death in the family of workers or when people were off work for an extended period, she took up collections of money and food.
One year at Christmas, our hours had been cut at work and she and I were so poor that at our gift exchange, I gave her one pillow and she gave me a 1923 silver dollar which I still have in my jewelry box. Nowadays, when she and I get together to exchange gifts, we always hearken back to that time. We now have everything we need; we don't need presents, but it is always a celebration because we are grateful that we can give each other nice presents.
Last year, before Christmas, she said, "Hey, I need pillows!" Laughing, I said, "You only get ONE!" She did not get an economical (I won't say "cheap"!) one from K-Mart, but luxurious down ones from Elder Beerman.
My husband has said to me on numerous occasions that he cannot believe that we're friends as we are "totally different". I said, "She loves me with all my faults." Of my friends, she is the only one of my friends my mother ever liked. My mother would oftentimes say that she was her friend too because she would come to visit my mother without my being there: "just for the heck of it"; she told me that she wished that my mother was her mother. She always remembered my mother's birthday; and even after all these years, she always calls me on the anniversary of my mother's death to see how I'm doing.