Today, I want to talk about “quid pro quo” (By “talk about,” I mean that I’d like to get the ball rolling for some interaction in the comments).
“Quid pro quo” means, literally, “thing for thing.” It came up this summer, as my friend Jessie and I were cutting each other’s hair. She cut mine, I cut hers, and we both benefited in an equal exchange of value. Haircut for haircut.
Later, Eric and I got talking about Value vs. Cost vs. Price and where Worth fits in. We defined these as
Value: how badly do you need “x” transaction to occur?
Cost: what will the transaction set you back, emotionally, financially, etc.?
Price: what is your trade partner’s desired outcome?
Worth: how can everyone benefit equally?
(but we’re interested in hearing how other people think about these things).
We can ask ourselves (and our trade partners) these questions during each transaction, and wrap it all up by asking each other “Are we even?”
At Catlander, this is the Latin shorthand we use to remind us that “Money is an easy way to forget about value,” one of the Fundamentals you might recall from yesterday.
Dollar value is static. Practical value fluctuates.
Think about how a $20 bill means different things to different people. The question “What would you do for $20” gets a different answer every time it’s asked. In fact, it’s answered every time someone takes a new job. (Here, we could get into the nature of minimum-wage employment, but I’m planning to save that for another post.)
I have a casual job, helping out at a vintage store whenever I’m needed (you should check them out – HighJinx, on Somerset St in
. These chicks are doing an amazing service in their community, and I’m proud to be even a small part of the good they’re improving.). I get paid in merchandise. Last time I worked, I covered an afternoon shift, and I went home with a sweet leather jacket. The time before that, a few hours netted me a bag of fabric and two antique floor lamps. These are beautiful examples of the kind of transaction I’m talking about. Ottawa
Sometimes, we find ourselves up against hard times, and we need to get help. It’s hard to know when to ask for help, harder to actually ask for help, and harder still to accept help that’s offered.
When you’re in a position of financial distress, no matter the degree, it’s easy to focus on the dollar value of the help you need. It’s less easy to remember that the practical value is different depending on your perspective.
Hurdle: you need to keep your electricity running.
Springboard: is there someone in your life who can pay your bill (or part of it) in exchange for a service, item, or some other kind of help you’re able to offer them? I guess it amounts to contract employment.
Example: Catlander company payroll is currently measured in ounces rather than dollars. What I contribute to the company until it’s able to start paying us in dollars is paid in brainstorming and philosophizing sessions with Eric, who pays for the accompanying “genius juice”. The “equal exchange of value” that we’re after works like this: Eric has support (emotional and intellectual) in the pursuit of his dream of running a bike company, we both get energized by the interaction and conversation, I get a night out (when I can’t usually afford it). We frequently ask each other “are we even?” just to ensure that we’re maintaining a balance.
Quid pro quo: thing for thing. I think it’s simply a matter of expanding our definition of “currency.”