02 April, 2009

Things I've never done before, week 1

My goal for April is to do something I have never done before each week, and then write about it. Because for me, there is no point in doing something interesting if I can't write about it later. I am pretty sure that's why I felt no need to take lots and lots of photographs on my mission: although I feel an occasional pang of guilt that I have a less-than-comprehensive visual way of representing my experience in Hungary, I know that the real record of my experiences are the thousands of pages I wrote about them.

Rules about this goal:
1. The experience must be interesting enough to write about for more than one paragraph.
2. It can be something I have seen done, but never done myself.
3. It cannot be against my personal moral code.
4. It cannot be a sin.
5. However, it does not have to be something I am proud of.
6. In reading this, you agree not to judge me harshly either for my experience or for my reaction to it.

Are we all on board? Excellent.

Today, for the first time, I pawned something. I sold my grandmother's wedding ring.

Please allow me to explain before you go ape on me (particularly you, Mom, if you're reading this). In context, I think you will find this was a wise and mature decision.

When my grandmother died in 2006, I inherited her engagement ring and her wedding band. The story behind the diamond ring is quite sweet: my grandparents got married during the First World War, and my grandfather told my grandmother that she could have either a diamond ring or a house. She chose the house. Smart lady. Then, when my mother was fourteen, my grandfather bought my grandmother a diamond ring for Christmas. And I must say, I am not really into expensive jewelry, but this is a ROCK. I really really love it. For years, I had planned for my parents to keep the rings until I brought someone home who wanted to marry me, and he could ask permission to marry me, get the ring, and generally be precious and kodak moment-y. However, when my parents got divorced, something inside me died, and so did this dream. I told my mom I wanted the rings, and I still plan to give the diamond ring to my future spouse so he can propose to me with it. I have grown quite attached.

I don't want my future husband asking permission to marry me from a man that abandons his wife on a whim. I still feel this way.

Anyway, the ring. Like I said, there are two rings: a diamond engagement ring and a wedding band. I love the engagement ring and would likely save it from my nightstand if our house were on fire (assuming my dog were already safe). The wedding band, however, is a different story. It's pretty boring. It also doesn't fit any of my fingers. I have kept it all these years for sentimental reasons, but I never had a plan for it. Now I don't have to make one.

I lost my job in January, and though I was able to live off my savings for quite some time, I am now flat broke. I was thinking of creative ways to make money to get me through the next few weeks, and a few things came to mind. I will be selling some less-valuable things in the future (stay tuned!) but the ring was pretty much the only thing I could think of besides my car that was actually worth anything. Bonus: I would never miss it.

So I took it to a pawnshop today. I have many memories of going to the pawnshop with my mom as a kid. I don't remember what all we sold: a few of my mom's guitars, some electronic equipment, jewelry. I chose this specific pawnshop for two reasons: 1. It had kangaroos painted on the sides of the building and 2. They had a big sign that said "WE PAY $ 4 GOLD!!!!" I like kangaroos, and it sounded like the kind of place with straightforward people. I was right. There were kangaroo vinyl decals inside as well.

I was a little nervous walking inside because I was wearing high heels (high heels make me feel vulnerable for some reason) and the only people I could see inside were scruffy-looking men with goatees. However, I discovered once I was inside that those men were not the owners of the pawnshop. Just the customers.

The inside looked kinda like DI, only sparser, with kangaroos. Their main stock seemed to be electronics: video game systems, TVs and the like. The woman at the counter was cute, Hispanic, with long curly hair and gold jewelry. She couldn't have been taller than five two.

"Are you the guys that buy gold?" I asked, just to make sure I hadn't misread the sign.

"Yup." She said with a surprising lack of attitude. I took the ring out of my wallet and set it on the counter. I wonder if she thought it was MY wedding ring?

"I'd like to sell this."

She asked for my ID, my address, my phone number, my signature, and my fingerprint (which was pretty cool). She took a picture of me with a webcam and logged it into some sort of database. I assume this was because so many people sell stolen goods at pawnshops. I wonder if I had a criminal record, if the database would have told her? She weighed the ring and told me how much it was worth. I also learned that the ring weighed 1.3 ounces. Then she handed me a wad of cash and wished me a nice day.

Thank you. I am having a nice day.

I feel a little guilty, I'll admit. Not because I pawned something I inherited. I am generally in favor of pragmatism over sentimentality when it comes to physical objects. I mean nothing has intrinsic value, right? Only worth. The worth I ascribe to something, or the worth the world ascribes to something. Either way it's completely nebulous. So if something has worth to the world but not to me, there isn't any logical shame in taking advantage of that.

I really do not want to be one of those people that ascribes undue worth to stuff that doesn't matter. My dad in particular saves everything. It's obnoxious. I am definitely benefiting more from the money currently in my wallet than a ring I would never wear. I suppose I am more bothered by the concept of pawning something. Isn't that something only desperate, pathetic people do? It makes me feel trashy. Or maybe it just reminds me of growing up in poverty. None of my friends' moms sold stuff in pawnshops. I don't think they even shopped at consignment stores.

Anyway, what's done is done. I will be able to eat for another week, and I got rid of another object that was taking up unnecessary space in my life. However, unless I am truly desperate, I don't think I will ever pawn something again. It feels not so much morally wrong, just something I don't want to see myself doing. I can't think of anything to compare it to, but I can say that I did not enjoy it. Which possibly means that this was, in fact, a violation of my personal moral code in some unforseen way. In which case I already broke one of my rules.



TheMoncurs said...

I think whole thing is an awesome idea!

And I totally get why you pawned the ring. I think I would be totally torn about it, but you gotta eat and I probably would have eventually arrived at the same decision.

Looking forward to seeing what else you do!

theFinn said...

Snowboarding can be the new experience for week 2!

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