How do you place a value on something? I ask, because an off the cuff comment on Facebook provoked quite a heated discussion amongst my friends yesterday, much to my surprise.
I am running an Ebay auction of random items of clothing at the moment. Some are vintage pieces I picked up because they are beautiful but that I really have no use for. Others are items I will never wear again but which are in decent condition – like a monster of a green frock I wore to a friend’s wedding in the 1990’s which is now rather pleasingly 2 sizes too large for me (and which has lasted much longer than the actual marriage in question). I’m trying to generate enough cash to buy this corseted frock.
Then there’s this little dress:
It’s pretty, it’s in decent condition (mainly because I had major chest spillage on every unfortunate wear so it was relegated to a storage box pretty early on) – but it isn’t an expensive dress. I picked it up new for £10 from a chain store. So I bunged it on Ebay several months ago where it resolutely refused to sell. I only included it in this round of selling because it’s prom season, pricing it at a reasonable £3.50. Whereupon it still didn’t sell. Ebay trundled on and relisted it as it does and I was rather surprised to receive a query on it yesterday, which on reply prompted a buy it now offer of £15. FIFTEEN POUNDS!!! It was accompanied by a very nice message from a teenager who would like to secure it for prom, so made me this whopping offer.
Now I like the dress – I wouldn’t have bought it otherwise. But I know it isn’t worth that much money. And I was reared on John Hughes movies being a true child of the 80s. Pretty In Pink is engraved into my soul. We didn’t have proms in my day, but if we had I’d have been the skint, if slightly less popular red headed, UK counterpart to Molly Ringwald. I cannot in my bones fleece a teenager for what should be one of the best nights of their life. I told her she could have it for £5 plus postage and we are both happy.
I mention this transaction in passing on Facebook and all hell breaks out. There’s the ‘oh you nice person’ camp and then there’s the virulent ‘oh you soft shite’ camp that informs me that all of today’s teenagers are loaded and that I should fleece her for as much as I possibly can, accompanied by several rather amusing insults at my expense and a discussion of how I should just call myself a charitable basket case… And these people call themselves my friends!
I’m no saint. I am after all selling the dress but I feel I got a decent contribution to the frock fund from this transaction. She goes away happy that she didn’t get ripped off. What I have found illuminating about the whole FB debacle is that the people calling me an idiot are people I generally knew as teenagers and went to school with. They all fall into the bracket of those I knew who had parents prepared to bankroll their every whim. The more generously inclined souls fall into the same cash poor demographic as I did. Right now it’s 1:30am and insomnia is making ants do the fandango round my cranium and I am too tired to ponder the nuances of that or make sweeping generalisations about how we come to value the many transactions we make in life, other than to say for me – I would have been squirming with guilt selling something so overpriced. Even with another £25 still to raise for my own dream frock, I made the right call.