Midwestern nice

Sometimes a peach is just a peach

Is this just a midwestern thing? I find it – odd.

I have, more than once, given something – in this case, a dozen peaches from the case we bought from the Tree-Ripe folks – to a friend only to be asked how much they owe me.

Nothing! I answer.

No, really, they insist, how much?

It’s – a gift, I say, while thinking, Isn’t it obvious that an unprompted delivery of an item is not considered a shared expense but a gift?

I didn’t ask them beforehand if they wanted to split getting a case of peaches.

I didn’t ask, “Would you like to buy some peaches from me?”

I showed up at their front doors with a dozen peaches.

I had mentioned the peaches to them before, when I told them about the peach truck and how great the peaches were, and when Mr T got ours, we thought, That’s a lot of peaches we can share some.

So they asked me how much money they owed me and I said nothing no really I mean nothing.

I guess they wanted to be sure that they were not offending me and that they had not misunderstood the previous conversation – but here’s what I want to know: Has anyone ever answered, “That will be ten dollars” to a question like that?

9 thoughts on “Midwestern nice

    1. I guess it’s considered good manners? I gave a co-worker friend a ride to the shop to pick up her car once and she wanted to give me gas money. At first, I was kind of insulted that she thought our friendship was transactional, but she was clearly doing what was considered the proper thing in her (rural Georgia, no college) world.

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  1. Never! when I get an offer like that, I usually say, “can I reimburse you?” and then graciously accept. Maybe that’s the Southern way, but I thought it was just the polite way.

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  2. Things get really sticky sometimes, especially when you have a group of people who are Allergic To Charity (and thus suspicious of gifts, especially useful gifts) – but then there’s also ask/guess culture and things get really messy.

    Any time I’ve gotten a good price on something but would need some financial remuneration due to budget crunches, I’ve checked with people beforehand, like “I’m at the farmer’s market and there’s a large unit of [something] for $X, do you want any of them at the correct proportion of that price?” and if I get enough people buying in to this quantity that would be ludicrous for me to buy and price that is out of my comfort zone in total, then I buy them and split them. (i.e. when flats of raspberries cost nearly the same as two tiny little half-tubs of raspberries, so you’re getting a really good bargain but the total cost is still too steep for that month’s food portion of a tiny working-out-way-through-college budget).

    But if I say “hey, I got [fill in the blank], price unmentioned, do you want a dozen?” then nope, I am not needing, expecting, or wanting remuneration. (although sometimes when it looked like pride was on the line, I have ended up letting people pay the percentage – when it was looking a lot like if I refused to let them pay they would not accept peaches next time, *or* when they simply refused to take them without paying. So it’s sticky.)

    I have sometimes gone for just abandoning things on peoples’ doorknobs without asking them beforehand, but sometimes extra food is a burden (must use it up before it goes bad!) so I guess all of it is “know your audience” individually and collectively, sigh.

    I have never had someone try to pay me for “my garden is overflowing with zucchini and we simply can’t eat them all” sorts of things, though. I think if the cost is remote/unknowable and it’s a “look, otherwise I’d be throwing it away” thing, it is easier for people to accept?

    Also, I have asked people if they’d like me to reimburse them when it’s something that is reasonably likely to be a nontrivial cost to them, so that may be the difference: if the assumed cost of what the person is giving to me is outside a certain expected budget percentage, if their funds are tight, then I tended to ask how much to reimburse them if they asked “do you want some X? We bought a large unit and it’s more than we need.” And people sometimes have patterns from a more-pinched time of their life, so there is also that.

    (but when I bought a bushel of tiny apples for $3, I did not let anyone pay, because I was keeping more apples than I would have paid $3 for anyway, and it was a mercy to me to have fewer apples to process!)

    So: yes: ugh.

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  3. You got those peaches and I bet they were expensive if you got them from the farmers’ market or the local peach place. I know that and while I appreciate your generosity, I’m stll going to offer!

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  4. We really really enjoyed the eight peaches that you gave us when we saw you in June ( so juicy & sweet) and I never thought to ask if I owed you as they were obviously a gift. If you’d ever like to split the cost of a box of their peaches tho, we’d be happy to do that as 25 lbs of peaches is a lot!!

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  5. Is it an age thing?
    In the Dark Ages (my youth), neughbors would ring the doorbell with just-caught fish, tomatoes, squash, our dog (she jumped fences), extra mulch, things their kids were selling (GS cookies), free kittens, free rabbits … This was in a rawther prosperous village on Long Island and I still haven’t figured out why people thought our town was snooty.

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  6. I would take the peaches (happily..do you need my address?) but I’d be offering you the good blueberries I scored at Meijer the next week.

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