Sunday, February 01, 2009

Finding the Silver Lining

There's little question we're in for some rough times ahead. Most businesses have either announced or are pondering layoffs in just about every industry you can think of. So when I found this item from Reuters this morning, it made me smile.

Not long after I emerged from my post-adolescent cocoon and found myself struggling to meet the demands of a new marriage, I was shanghaied by an Amway zealot. Now, I have nothing personally against Amway or any of its several re-inventions over the years. Their products are, for the most part, reliable. I simply have no stomach for their multi-level marketing strategies which border on evangelistic fanaticism in my opinion. So I didn't last long. (Anyone who knows me knows that I am far too lazy to make an aggressive strategy like Amway really work anyway.)

I dredge up this piece of ancient history only because of what Amway preached back in the day. They really had only two selling points. One was the perceived benefits of the multi-level marketing approach. The other was the strength of the products they marketed. "People will always need cleaning products" was their mantra. It's true: rain or shine, good economy or bad, people want to be clean. Just because you have no money, you certainly don't want people thinking you have no money, so you'll keep cleaning your house no matter what your current debt load may be. Not to mention all the hygienic benefits from keeping your home and yourself as clean as possible.

(My "upline" did, however, fail to mention that when the chips were down and it was a choice between paying Amway whatever shipping charges were included with your order, or simply going to Ye Olde Grocery Shoppe down the street to pay a few cents more or less on the dollar, convenience will always win. Always.)

This is why the Reuters story made me chuckle. Yes, times are bad. A lot of good people are facing a new reality with no immediate income and bleak employment prospects. But the people who put food on our tables (as opposed to those who charge us for the simple pleasure of sitting at one of their tables and looking at their menus) are benefitting from our new-found reliance on good ol' home cooking.

It's expensive to eat out all the time. Heaven knows we do our fair share. We're not big restaurant people here at Hacienda Woody. But it's not at all unusual for Woody to be out running errands (including, ironically enough, grocery shopping) and have Mrs. Woody say, "As long as you're out..." and Woody suddenly finds himself in the nearest drive-through. If you do even a few of those every month it adds up to an alarming amount of money. And I know people who eat out far more frequently than they eat in.

Living on a budget does things to your priorities. You begin to remember just why, exactly, you have a stove. Or, at the very least, a microwave. (I prefer to do my vegetable steaming in the microwave, for example.) You also remember that nothing tastes quite like a home-cooked meal. This may be especially true if Hubby does any of the home cooking:


"Yes, Honey?"

"Dad cooked the meatloaf again, didn't he?"

"It's not meatloaf, Sweetheart."


(Actually, Woody cooks a fairly credible meatloaf. Allow me some creative license.)

My point is that I don't see it as a bad thing that people are eating at home more. Perhaps I'm just taking a glass-half-full approach to this recession, but it might just remind us that a certain amount of conservatism (with a small "c" if you must) is not necessarily a bad thing.

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