The Price of Honesty

The Price of Honesty

In the desert of California, I would go to the local farmer's market. It usually involved a man in a tie-dyed onesie and an alien mask playing discordant tunes on an amplified guitar, at least ten women in high waisted shorts and floppy hats, a minimum of two men holding hands, usually one who looked like a middle aged CEO and the other much younger in a fishnet tank top, and then a lot of really good produce and flowers. Everyone, minus the old ladies selling cat grass, took credit cards. The old ladies selling cat grass would just give you a container of cat grass if you didn't have cash because, think of the kittens.

Recently, I went to a farmer's market on the Colorado/Utah border and saw no incredibly cool women with full sleeves, no obviously gay men, no old ladies selling cat grass, and I realized, I had presumed everyone would take cards, and the ranchers selling fresh beef certainly weren't going to do that.

But, I decided to ask. So I went up to a stall selling lavender bundles that smelled like Heaven and asked the straw hat, suspender wearing man if he took card.

"I don't. But in the Mennonite tradition, I'll let you pay me next Saturday. It's about honesty and doing the right thing. It's on you, and if you don't want it to be on you, then it doesn't matter because you won't come back and you'll get this stuff for free. What would you like?"

I told him I wasn't sure I would be in town next Saturday and left. The idea of being in debt to this Mennonite was far more than I was willing to risk for a bundle of lavender. It wasn't about the money, it was about the ethics. Was I willing to be in moral debt to this man? One-hundred precent not.

I liked the chaos and variety of the Mojave desert farmer's markets, but there was no way someone in the desert of California was going to extend me a credit line based on my moral character. I realized, I found that man's incredibly nice offer to let me pay later far more compelling of a reason to not go into debt than a bank offering to up my credit card limit.

And upon stringing that thought pattern together, I saw I had just provided an argument against late stage capitalism, when really all I wanted was some lavender that smelled like dreams.

I walked back to my truck, tossed the seat cushions and found three dollars. In the end, I got my lavender without going in to debt. It smelled full and rich, and I wondered, what was the dream I smelled in those purple flowers?