My first business began in the un-paved alley next to our house. There I’d choose the most exotic rocks: chunks of quarts or granite; carefully selected purple rocks with black veining, or pink rocks with brown underbellies. Then after washing them, I’d place them into our red wagon with a younger sister and begin my journey through the neighborhood: up our street, around the park, and a dog-legged stop onto 3rd to catch “Mack” in his cheerful, yellow house.
With the younger sister smiling as an added enticement, I’d knock on a door and offer, “Would you like to buy some rocks?”
It was my first experience with door-to-door sales and the feeling that comes when a door closes in your face.
I did discover two steady customers, the sweet silver-haired grandma in the gray house and Mack (who was 101 according to him). They each gave me nickels and pennies, and then carefully selected which rocks looked best.
Unfortunately one day my mom found out and I went out of business. To compensate, the next summer she set me up in something more “legitimate:” selling greeting cards. wahoo.
On the other side of the coin, one year I brought home a worn coat from school to the dismay of my parents. Just a week or so before my mom had taken me shopping at J.C. Penny’s and let me select my winter coat. I gravitated to the rack of black and pink ones with fur around the hood. Pulling one on, I dashed to look in the mirror. I loved it! At school the next day I figured I had the best looking coat ever made.
At recess, one of my dear friends admired my coat, and I looked at hers that seemed to barely keep her warm. I offered that we trade for a day. Her eyes got wide as she protested, but I was insistent. What good was it to have something beautiful if I couldn’t share it? And it was only for a day.
Needless to say, when I got home my parents wanted me to take her coat right back. “But she rides the bus,” I explained, unable to see what I had done wrong. They complained that her coat showed the wear of several seasons while mine was still brand new. I cried that night. The next day my friend brought my coat to school. She too had gotten in trouble at home. Sometimes there’s a gulf between the logic of parents and the hearts of children.
Years later I was introduced to the term “Compassionate Capitalism.” My DH thinks I have the compassion down, while he struggles to provide the capital. Maybe it’s the memory of selling rocks, or the desire to share my best coat, but any child that comes to my door has a good shot at finding a customer. When I have cash. For some reason, I don’t often have cash on hand though.
It’s not that he’s not as generous as the next guy, but I think he is secretly afraid that someday he’ll come home to find strangers living in our house.
I love capitalism. I love supporting it. I always will, even if it’s just one nickel or quarter at a time. Once it took me ten minutes to talk my DH into walking down the block to buy lemonade for me from the neighbor’s children. “But we don’t drink sugar drinks,” he protested. What did that have to do with anything?