During college and for the first year after I graduated, I had a job as a poison merchant. It was a really good job for a young person. The pay was above average, the hours fit perfectly into my personal and social schedules. My boss was a great guy who treated me extremely well because he recognized that I was a valuable member of the team. Our customers really liked me and I had banter with the regulars. I knew the preferences of the regulars and was adept at helping the people who didn’t know what they wanted. Despite how well things were going as a poison merchant, I opted to follow a more noble cause: knowledge salesman!
The past sixteen years as a knowledge salesman have been a tough slog. I have plenty of prospective customers who are forced to consider my products. Unfortunately most of them are resistant to buy because of the obligation that is held over their head. Most see no point to my product and think the price is too high. My store is antiquated. Even though I see all of the deficiencies in my company, it’s an old industry that believes that it will always exist. Despite the poor working conditions, I truly do care for my customers and know that my product could help them toward a better life. Unfortunately I have grown weary from fighting with my customers in their own self-interest. I know that in other parts of the world, customers risk death to get my products. While in my territory, low prices are demanded constantly and I know that many of my customers despise me for trying to do my job. The thing that keeps me going at the moment is my former customers who send me the occasional message of thanks. I’ve thought often of going back to being a poison merchant.
Value is not a fixed thing. Currency, real estate, commodities and almost anything else in this world has a value relative to the desire for that item, service, etc. Since value is driven by need/desire, it changes by region, time period or circumstance. It can also be deceptive. Humans put great value on things that are inherently worthless much of the time. They also put little to no value on things that are of great importance. My time working at a beer and wine store and as a teacher are not particularly an indictment of American culture but they do paint a picture of the value that we put on different things. Value is decided both individually and collectively. As each of us presses forward in our lives and communities, it is important to decide what we truly value in both the short and long term.