My daughter recently called to ask my advice about a little predicament she had gotten herself into. I immediately thought of a similar situation that I had experienced when I was only a little bit older.
It was in Berkeley probably in 1982 or 3. I had just gotten divorced and was trying to find my new way. I had decided to try freelance graphic design so I could have more personal freedom. I was already experienced in the field but not at going it alone. I had always worked for a company. I don’t know how I met the nice married couple. They had a little boutique on Telegraph Avenue. They sold marvelous hand made clothing and accessories. They wanted an identity package and we decided that since I wasn’t as well dressed as I would have liked that we would barter. I would do the identity package and trade it for clothes.
All went well. They loved my work and then it came time for me to go over to the store and get my clothes. At the store they introduced me to the woman who was going to help me. They said “Watch out, she’s our best sales person. We call her The Shark!” I thought nothing of this. After all I was not paying money. No worries, right?
So gleefully we went about the store with her pulling out this and that and saying won’t these look nice together. I went into the fitting room and came out with my new ensemble feeling pretty snazzy and cute. One of the pieces she put me in was an amazing lizard belt with sterling silver fittings. It was handmade and had no holes. But this was not a problem. She went ahead and punched holes in it and put it around my waist. Voila! We were complete. I was on cloud nine.
Then we started adding everything up at the cash register. Within a few minutes I could see I was in trouble. The items were adding up way over my credit amount. I was starting to feel crushed. There was no way I could make up the difference. So I told her and we started taking away items. We got all the way down to a couple pieces and the belt. It still wasn’t enough. So we took away everything but one sweater and the belt. I would have rather declined the belt. It was by far the most expensive piece. I could have gotten many items of clothing just for the price of the belt alone. But the holes that were punched in it, she carefully explained, were now customized to my size and no one would be able to buy it the way it was.
Walking out of the store I felt cheated. I was no longer on cloud nine. I was down in the dumps and then some! I walked home more depressed and bummed than I had ever felt. When I got home I looked at the beautiful belt that wouldn’t go with anything I owned. It would be a silk purse sticking out like a sore thumb on all the sow’s ears I had in my closet. The only thing I could do was learn my lesson. From there on after I called it the “Learning Belt” and I never forgot my lesson. It was to not get carried away emotionally and consider my actions carefully.