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.


  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.


  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.


  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!


  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!!


  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.


  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.

    Liked by 1 person

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