I'm really curious about this whole practice of bartering. It seems to be a hot topic at the moment, not that it ever really disappeared. It just feels like it's on a huge upswing right now. Surely the god-awful economy has a lot to do with it, but it seems like there are a lot of other factors in play, too, like being environmentally friendly. It used to be that it took place between people who knew each other, but there are on-line bartering sites all over the place in recent years. What started out with a sense of community has gone very global.
If you aren't familiar with the practice, it's basically trading something you do for something someone else does. Say you're a really good tree trimmer and your neighbor is an ace plumber. You cut down dead branches in return for getting that leaky bathroom sink fixed. It's an investment of time and skill rather than money, and the possibilities are virtually endless. This is really bartering in its simplest form, since you can, in theory anyway, barter anything anywhere. Some people barter for everything from airplane tickets to cemetery plots, but that's just too over my head to even contemplate.
I have friends who barter regularly and always have. I love the idea, and would like to start doing it, but I immediately run into a roadblock. I don't think I have many skills I could trade that people would want. It seems to me that the people who would be able to put this to good use have specific marketable skills. Take photography. I would think if you can take a good picture, you can swap that talent. How about other artists? Or any kind of household handiwork. Auto mechanics. Hair cutting. Graphic design. Massage therapists. These are all highly tradeable skills.
It's a little humbling to realize that you have no real skills when it comes to what you can trade. I've put time and thought into this, and here's what I came up with.
I bake really good bread, and make a mean homemade pizza crust.
And I think that's it. In a town loaded with fabulous bakeries and pizza places, those aren't going to take me far. I don't sew. I knit - badly. I'm totally crafts challenged, to my enormous chagrin.
I can always babysit. Or cook. But those skills are a dime a dozen. There is the nursing aspect, but I don't really see that as barterable. I'm always happy to be a Dial A Nurse for my friends, but that's different. I could come over to your house and take out stitches, but any moron with nail clippers can do that. It's too bad, really, because there are so many things I'd like to get from bartering. I just don't seem to be in a position to pull it off.
What about the rest of you? What are some skills you have that you could trade off for things you can't do? And what would you most like to trade for?
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
Posted by the rotten correspondent at 12:02 AM