Hardship teaches lessons

by Peter Twitchell

What is money anyway? It’s only paper, right? Absolutely correct. The Creator and his infinite wisdom has been teaching me the value of the dollar in the last several months. I haven’t had too much of it since January when my unemployment insurance ran out.

I’ve enjoyed not having too much money and sometimes it’s been fun not having it at all. For instance walking into a store the other day and seeing something I really wanted but didn’t really need and didn’t have any money to buy it. As I walked out the store empty-handed I thought having absolutely no money is a good experience and wake up call.

When I had money I spent it freely. I came to the conclusion only after hitting the bottom of the pork barrel that material things aren’t everything and not really important.

I have never had a financial hardship like this in my life but I’m thinking, wow I’m lucky to realize it at middle age – well little past middle age maybe. What a blessing when you can’t get what you want sometimes.

Buying food hasn’t been an easy task. I have had to be very creative in what I buy. For instance I might buy some smoked ham luncheon meat, wheat bread that’s half price off, lettuce and mayonnaise. This would last me a whole week and I don’t have company. I have fruit, some bananas and sometimes oranges. I have cut the mangoes completely, at least for the time being. It’s been a valuable experience for me having had everything I wanted up front until a few months ago and having less now than I have ever had.

Having less now I have never eaten so many canned goods in my entire life. I try not to eat canned foods because of all the preservatives. What’s going to happen if I have too many preservatives in my body? I might be here forever. I try not to eat canned foods as a general rule.

I was looking at some prices at Walmart and Fred Meyers when I was invited to go into Anchorage to babysit for my daughter Susie. A can of Vienna sausages cost only $0.37. That’s a whopping buck 43 cents cheaper than Bethel prices.

When I was able to buy a can of those mini sausages a couple months back I’d have three of them one day and the remaining four would be the next day’s meal. How convenient – one can with 7 little Vienna sausages lasted 2 days. I never used to enjoy eating them as much before this minor setback but now I have eaten them with great relish especially when I bought a couple of red potatoes to go along with this simple menu.

There are my friends who have realized my lack of having money and resources who gladly invited me to go with them to funerals, 40-day feasts, and one year feasts so I could have a variety of food like Native Foods. Strips, slab salmon, akutaq, moose, and reindeer soup in the past year. I have managed to get by on funerals, weddings, birthdays, and feasts.

And now thinking about where I am financially I’d like to say that it’s been a learning lesson for me. I need to hold back some of the money instead of grabbing $20 here and running to the store and buying a DVD or CDs. Cassettes are kind of outdated though, they’re harder and harder to find but once in a while you’ll get lucky. But where are the cassette players? There is none around anymore, oh well. I have to depend on this old cassette player and hope it works the next time I press record and play.

Good luck and have a great October. We’re looking ahead look into the future without a pandemic and back to socializing, back to those meals when we celebrate a birthday or have a sober dance.