As I mentioned earlier, I totally scored a free calendar for doing nothing more than mentioning off-handedly that I needed to get one. I had also mentioned to the same person that I recently took up knitting and needed to go out and buy more supplies. This wasn’t done in a calculating “little match girl” kind of way– just “I need to go do this one of these days.” The day after she brought me my calendar, my supervisor brought me a bag stuffed with yarn and knitting needles that she doesn’t use anymore.

A few weeks before that, I mentioned to the appraiser I work with that I was in the market for some ice skates. He’s lived here his whole life, and knows everything, so I figured he’d be a good person to ask. The same day that I got my knitting supplies, he brought me in a pair of skates that his daughter never used and no longer wants (at least that’s what he told me). Also, every day we work together, he brings me cookies.

Then yesterday, another boss and I were talking and she said “My boyfriend and I have something for you.” I’m sure I just looked puzzled, so she pressed on, “You know, he’s a doctor, and people give him gifts all the time. Usually it’s restaurant gift certificates, which we never manage to use because we’re always eating at our neighbor’s restaurant. So we have $50 in gift certificates for fancy Providence restaurant for you.”

And she just gave them to me– no strings attached– because in true Rhode Island fashion it takes a lot of effort to drive to Providence and back from where she lives.

So now I’m faced with a decision: Do I go get lunch alone for about three times and really maximize my food dollar in a totally selfish way? Do I splash out on fancy dinner with my equally poor friends? Do I wait until poor friend from cowboy ski-pole country comes and visits me? I’ll mull this over while I knit a free scarf and break in my free skates.

Ok, here’s what I really love. A very considerate friend of mine once called me “kind of a poor.” This was a bit jarring to me because I grew up comfortably middle-class and have reduced myself to poverty by pursuing one graduate degree after another. Now it’s gotten to the point where I’m hanging out with enough over-educated people that I don’t even have to say anything about being kind of a poor– they just understand, and give me things.

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