I believe money can buy time. Not in the end, when my cosmic number is up and the safe is already hurtling toward me on the sidewalk, but during the in-between, the now of my life.
Here in America the continuously new and improved selection of wondrous stuff I can buy is enough to make me gape with desire. I’ll admit, I feel more beautiful in stylish clothes, I can feel loved by the cushiony softness of a new pair of socks, and I have listened to the mirror’s siren song calling me to spend enough money on Guaranteed Wrinkle Reversing Serum to feed a third-world family for a week.
But it is this same moisturized, happy-footed woman in new clothes that knows they were purchased on clearance and that our McMansion is more of a McCottage. The only marble in my kitchen rolls and was left there by my gadget-deprived children, the only ones on the block without a Nintendo DS or Cable TV. I am grateful to have health care through my husband’s job enabling me to work part time. I am blessed to be able to make this choice, but have been surprised over the years to have people with large new cars, shiny recent-model Blackberries, and children with every piece of modern technology available say to me, often with some derision, “I wish I could afford to stay home”.
To those people, I want to say that I have chosen to take the income from the three days a week that I don’t work and to buy those three days back. I have bought time. You won’t find this consumer choice at the mall or on aisle 3 of the supermarket. I have purchased time instead of other stuff I have chosen not to have. I bought time to be with my children when they get out of school by bartering used furniture for new – my house is decorated in Early American Craigslist. I bought the time to volunteer in their classrooms and eat with my family at home by rejecting a culture of consumerism. I share one cell phone with my husband, use what I already have until it quivers and begs for mercy, and I drive a car that features a cassette player and the “Ding of the Week”. Time doesn’t always look great parked in the driveway, but what I can do with it makes me feel richer inside.
While there is never one right decision for all people or all situations, I believe that time is a valuable consumer choice worthy of society’s consideration and respect.