This week went by really quickly. I’m trying to remember everything that happened in it and it’s all just a blur. I’m working on a lot of big projects now, so I’ve really enjoyed that, and they definitely make the time fly. When I come up for air, it’s nice to look back and see the big chunks of work that I’ve finished. I’m also having a lot of fun, though, so don’t worry about my mental state. I’m going to tell you a story that will sound really frivolous at first, but just wait; I’ll make it significant by the end.
Once upon a time, when I was just a baby fellow newly discovering Not For Sale (so, you know, about a month ago), Benita was giving us a tour of the Freedom Store and telling us how everything was managed. She also gave us a general overview of all of the products that the Freedom Store sells. Every product has a story: this scarf is from India, that necklace is from Thailand, and so many items mean something so beautiful for the people who made them. A sustainable income, for example. Or the opportunity for creative expression after so long experiencing the dehumanization that results from being trafficked. It was that day, as we were shuffling around the store making the appropriate appreciative noises as we heard about these stories, that I fell in love. With a purse.
Don’t judge me. You don’t understand. This purse is perfect. It was handmade out of the inner tubes of discarded car tires found on the side of the road in El Salvador. One World Projects saw how awful all of that trash was for the environment, and the artisans at Uca Ruffatti found a clever way to fix it. They got people to make the trash into wearable fashionable items, and they paid them a fair wage to do it. In conclusion, this bag is awesome. It saves the earth! It saves people! It’s art! And it’s yellow, which is my favorite color! Unfortunately, it was also almost $50. Since I was spending all of my money on the gas it took to get me to Half Moon Bay to work with Not For Sale (who does not pay me anything), I decided that I would have to be content with admiring the bag from afar.
Fast forward to this week. The Freedom Store just started a new customer rewards program called Gemz. You get a certain amount of “gemz” for every product that you buy, and when you accumulate enough, you can cash in on certain promotions. Our first promotion? Fifty percent off of all handbags. I’m sure you can see where this is going. It was a slow day in the store (I think maybe five or six people came in the whole five hours that I worked there), so the majority of my time behind the counter was spent scheming and convincing other fellows who passed through the store in their way in or out of the offices to loan me things that I needed for my plan. In the end, Mandolyn obligingly allowed me to download the app on her iPhone (I don’t have one) and lent me $13 to supplement the cash I had in my back pocket, and Christy walked me through the particulars of the program. I ended up buying ten small items to qualify for the promotion, and then, when I activated it, the purse was finally mine! I have worn it every day since. Alright, that’s only two days. But I’m hopeful for our future together.
The point of this story is this: you may see something that you want and not see how you can get it. Don’t give up. Be patient and keep an eye out for opportunities. When I started at Not For Sale, driving to work was slowly chipping away at my savings. But now, I work on the weekends proctoring practice SATs, and that allows me to pay for gas and even make a little (a VERY little) extra. So I’m in a better position now to make a fun purchase than I was a month ago. Coupled with the promotion, that means that the purse was finally in reach. This is a very small example of a much bigger and more important thing that we should all understand. The end of human trafficking, for example, is a huge thing that we all want and it is often very difficult to see how we can get it. It seems impossible. But keep watching, keep looking for opportunities to make a difference. You’ll see those chances if you’re paying attention. And one day everything we’ve wanted may not seem so impossible.