The increasing popularity of bartering is no doubt directly related to the current economy, but it’s probably also spurred by our wish to waste less and improve the environment. By trading services and goods, we use less natural resources to for production of items that we can share. Or something like that.
When we were kids on the playground, we used to trade marbles. This involved some rather serious discussion over what might be worth a trade for a crystal. That ended when marbles went out of vogue, but reappeared with our daughters’ generation and Pokemon cards.
As adults, we have a more sophisticated method of bartering — or so we think. Here’s how this works. You have something I need (or would like to have). I have something you need (or would like to have). For example, my friend, Mary, gave me some mint for my herb garden. I probably gave her a chunk of lovage for her herb garden. We do that frequently — sometimes it’s a food that she likes to make for a food that I like to make.
I love to sew and I recognize it as a skill that many don’t have. I’ll trade sewing repairs and alterations for services that I’ve never mastered — like plumbing. Or I would if I could find a plumber who needed some alterations.
But you get the idea. It’s a trade for a trade, with no money exchanging hands.
Around Christmas time, my college friend, Norm, who lives in Goshen, Ind., posted on Facebook a photo of a pizza peel he’d made for his wife, Charlotte. I admired that peel for about five minutes and offered to trade him a Nelson Steiner cane for a pizza peel.
I should explain: In the last 20 years of his life, my father-in-law made an inordinate number of canes, often telling someone he’d make them a cane if they brought him a piece of unusual wood. He sold very few of those canes, choosing instead to give them as special gifts. Because he was very choosy about who to give them to, we now have our very own share of one-third of the canes.
Anyway, I didn’t really think Norm would come through with pizza peel butI shouldn’t have doubted his generosity. About a month ago, he sent me a message that he was sending the peel along to Bluffton with a mutual friend. I was out of town that weekend, so the peel made its home for a few weeks in the office of a coworker — the sister of the mutual friend who brought the peel from Goshen.
I finally retrieved the peel a few weeks ago and on Saturday, we had the opportunity to test it. Daughter number 2 was coming to visit and had requested home-made pizza, one of our specialties. Of course, what better way to test a pizza peel than to make your own pizza?
The pizza turned out perfect and the peel definitely eased the removal of the pizzas from the oven. Now…if I can just somehow barter with my sister-in-law for an outdoor pizza oven like the one she built in her back yard.
Oh, and Norm? The cane’s on the way.