The barter system was made for college
I’m not someone who clings to his masculinity that much — it’s not easy to emasculate me, despite what you may think of my yoga pants (compression tights, thank you very much) or my affinity for Kygo.
But if there’s one thing that makes my masculinity more fragile than our “president’s” ego, it’s owing someone money. I was raised to believe that being in debt to your friends is just plain unacceptable. It happens, obviously, and if you must take on debt, you should have a good reason to do so. But if I waited a minute too long to pay someone back, my mom would let me have it.
College doesn’t give a damn about your upbringing. Especially when you spend winter break in a foreign country and treat your cash there like Monopoly money. It was reasonable to get steak and lobster for dinner every night when we went out in Colombia, but then there was a delay in the direct deposit of my paycheck because of some weird timesheet error.
So, for the first time since 2015, I once again became a broke college student for a week and a half.
I spend money because it’s fun to spend money.
My friends and I like to take trips to the outlets for fun. Being broke again was torture; it forced me to reevaluate everything. I found a growing sense of dread as I kept asking my friends to bail me out when we went out to eat.
Because damn, I wasn’t about to drop my high-flying college-wealthy 20-hours-a-week-at-barely-above-minimum-wage lifestyle. Hell no — this was temporary. Maybe I won’t find a new religion, but I’ll have some debt, some self-loathing and, at best, a humor column in the school paper.
I kept relying on the same friend to bail me out, because he wouldn’t accept my temporary broke-ness as an excuse to not continue our weekly tradition of eating at two-dollar-sign Yelp restaurants. When we both realized that, once this drought was over, I’d be taking him out a couple times, I made my enlightening epiphany.
We stopped counting my debt as a number of dollars I owed him in cash, and we started counting it as how many meals I owed him. When he spotted me for our alcohol, he noted that I was about to ball him out with some glass bottles (a true luxury for my people).
This was so great for our friendship. Because now, I didn’t just owe him my money. I owed him my time. My paycheck was going to come, and my 20-hour workweeks weren’t going anywhere. But my time is something I really short my friends on, and vice versa. I tend to connect with and relate to similarly busy people, and when we have a hard time aligning our schedules, it’s easily the biggest stressor on our relationships.
I owed him a dinner at Yeti and a night out together — drinks on me. Instead of just being relieved to get the debt out of the way, we were happy to have that experience together.
Written by: Yinon Raviv — email@example.com