Submitted by ARL contributor Harry Tuttle
One of the most interesting lessons that we’ve learned in our move to a small town is that when you know just about everyone and they become your friends, it can become a bit fuzzy figuring out where the line between business and favor sits.
One creative solution, that must be credited to a neighbor – known by his “gang name” of “Pies”, is what – naturally enough – we refer to as the “pie economy”.
In the Pie Economy, favors are done (assuming your “credit rating” is sufficiently good) on the assumption that the good deed will be returned in kind.
As in any fringe economy, interim accounting is done in the local currency of choice, in this case “pies”. Borrow someone’s truck, you might owe ten pies, although depending on the mood and the prowess of the negotiator, it could just as easily be 10,000 pies.
Now, you’d think that such pricing volatility would tend to have a cooling effect on the economy and, truthfully, I think it does.
The real control on the accumulation of excess debt, however, it the plain fact that most of these transactions are being negotiated by persons generally deficient in any pie making skills – we call them “husbands”. It’s the wives, you see, that become our only hope of making a direct reduction of their husband’s debt. And, good luck with that.
Often, the best (maybe only) recourse, is to somehow return the favor, as quickly as possible, and at the highest possible price – just to keep the balance in your favor.
Sound complicated? Not really….in practice, it tends to produce a pretty nice and (need I say it?) reasonable balance between: a) a reluctance to ask for a favor and b) the desire to grant one. Sounds almost perfect.