Tag Archives: exchange

Italy Holiday Day 10: Barter Economy

Italian olive oil, both oil and an oil bottle ...

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Whenever I’m over here, I engage more actively in a barter economy, which I suppose is more archaic than a regular capitalist economy involving money. Briefly, I tend to do computer and/or translation stuff for my neighbour I. (I’ve even done an entire website for her), and she in return sorts out various appointments with builders and such and she also deals with things in my absence (bless her!).

Today for instance, she had a distraught phone call from an acquaintance whose 20-year-old son had gone to London and was going to have nowhere to stay tonight, as the deposit for a flat that his parents had transferred via the bank hadn’t arrived in English account yet (they only transferred it on Wednesday FFS – how is it supposed to get there within 2 days’ time?). They needed someone to phone the agency in London to find out what was going on, and try to get the keys for him so he wouldn’t be homeless. The son’s English being very poor, and the parents with no second language at all.

Little do these people realise that London is an evil capitalist shithole. No money = no fucking keys! When I phoned the agency, I knew straight away they weren’t going to budge. London is unlike the Italian countryside, where it’s fine to pay money later and where the word is enough to make people feel secure. Over there, nothing will happen without money. I understand both cultures – the UK is my home, and I have been here in Italy plenty of times – but for these poor parents it must have been quite a shock.

Anyhow, I did some research for him (youth hostels in London), explained about Gumtree (classifieds to find accommodation), and also my neighbour emailed and phoned my ex BF who lives in London (I gave her the contact details e.g. his phone no. at work and his work email address – seeing that it was really quite urgent I reckoned she must get in touch with im ASAP). He replied and said he would help the guy out, and that he could stay at his flat tonight etc. – very nice of him 🙂

The point of this post though is that I always do whatever I’m asked when I’m here, and generally speaking like to think I have a good ‘track record’ of doing things for people for free. I enjoy the idea behind barter, and I notice it’s a common feature of the culture here. For instance this week-end we were meant to go olive picking, which the neighbours do for various farmers and in return they get their olive oil for free all year.

For some reason, I get a buzz off doing things for people for nowt. I suppose it’s because I’m very very good at some things, but shite at others. Thus, I enjoy putting my expertise in certain areas to good use and to help others out (as it’s easy for me to do), so I can half expect / demand them to do stuff for me which I’m not good at, thus saving money 😛

Maybe my motivation is a capitalist one after all. I mean I’m not some Hippie type selfless ‘giver’, nor am I motivated by any religion or similar (‘doing good’). Though it does make me happy to solve something and sort out what *only I can sort out*, and no one else. Think of it what you will 🙂

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