I like Tractor Supply. I like the friendly people, the quaint knick-knacks for sale, and the smell of hay and horse feed. It feels like home. The other day, I had to buy some more dog food, so off to TSC I went. As I stood in line with a 40 lb bag slung over my shoulder, I couldn't help but notice the women at the front of the line...and the entire reason for the long wait that was about to ensue.
They were older women than myself...probably in their 50s. They had very plain, homely appearances, overweight with straw-like hair, and were dressed poorly in plain cotton...nightgowns? I can't be sure of the nature of the dresses, but they were old, faded, and not of a cut/material that would be considered appropriate public wear in most Southern households.
They had several items heaped onto the cashier's counter, and were apparently having some serious communication gaps regarding layaway. They had almost $300 worth of items, and were told they had to put about $73 down to hold the items. One woman looked at the other, a look of total incomprehension on her face and said, "Huh?" The other one practically shouted at her, "$73! You have to pay $73! You know, $60 more than you got! I ain't got it! You ain't got it! What we gone do?!" The manager, poor bloke, was apologizing for the wait, but he couldn't tear himself away long enough to open the other register or call back up, as they cashier had to constantly ask him to input his override code as the women would want to put this back or swap this item or that.
As it turns out, they still had a balance of $48 on a previous layaway that was due in September. "We gone pay that end of this month," said one of the women. The cashier tried to explain that they couldn't open a new layaway account with an old one still in the red. They were still arguing when I finally got checked out and left.
As I watched this display, I noticed what the women were putting on layaway -- Christmas gifts. "Awwww, how sweet," you might be thinking. More like totally unwise financial decisions. They didn't have clothes, boots, or even tools set aside. No, they had a cheaply made clock (full price), calendars ($20 each), and some other various things that certainly weren't worth the price they were...not paying? Paying later? However that works.
These women were clearly poor, perhaps not even operating on all cylinders, but this situation definitely served as some insight on how some people never dig themselves out of the financial hole they are in. Instead, they dig deeper.
These women could have found wonderful and personal gifts at Goodwill, the Salvation Army, thrift stores, consignment shops, the CLEARANCE aisle at Tractor Supply or like stores, yard sales...they could have even made something. Want a calendar? Dollar General, Dollar Tree, and Family Dollar has gorgeous calendars for $1-3 each, not $20. People love gifts, but they wouldn't love knowing you are suffering or facing a crazy debt just to get them a present.
It truly is about the thought you put into it. I know I have appreciated handmade goods, baked goods, and thrift store finds over the years because the item was something I loved and could use. I didn't care if the person spent 50 cents or $50.