How Much Would You Pay?

One day while I was browsing around an antique shop down on 8th Avenue, I found a Mouli Shredder. It was just like the one my mother had when I was a little kid.

So what’s a Mouli Shredder? Well, it’s sort of this hand-operated food processor. You know – “slices, dices, makes Julienne fries” – a wonder widget for post-war homemakers of the 1950’s and ’60’s.

This one was still in its tattered original box. It still had the paper protectors on all the attachments. Obviously the thing hadn’t ever been used. Maybe it had been an unwanted wedding gift. Or perhaps leftover inventory from a going-out-of-business sale at the old Woolworth’s. Whatever the story, it had clearly been denied the chance to be the productive, hard-working kitchen companion it was designed to be. I found it dumped on a scattered display shelf, along with some other odd bric-a-brac. It was just twelve bucks. That’s all they were asking for it.

I walked on around the store, looking for something else more “sensible” to buy. But the plight of this forgotten Mouli Shredder somehow captured my imagination. Like Charlie Brown’s beloved Christmas tree, it needed a home. It had survived all these years, ignored and unappreciated. Now it deserved a chance to be valued – to be worth something.

And I could sympathize.

So I bought it.

Twelve bucks, that’s all it cost.

On the street corners of downtown Nashville, I often see vendors selling a newspaper about homeless issues. They are themselves homeless or formerly homeless, and selling the papers is one of the ways they make a livelihood. When I encounter these folks, I’m usually on my way to somewhere else – work, the bank, the pharmacy, home. Then I get stuck at a red light, and there they are.

But they aren’t panhandlers. They don’t try to hustle me with some tragic story about their empty gas tank and pregnant spouse. Instead they’re selling this paper. A dollar, that’s all they ask for it.

It’s a good thing, what they’re doing. Trying to get back on their feet. Participating in the free-market economy. Spreading the word about the homeless situation in our community. I imagine that really gives them a sense of value, of self-worth.

And I can sympathize.

So I buy a paper.

For a dollar. That’s all it costs.

A lot less money than my Mouli Shredder.

For a whole lot more…

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