Every Monday I post Real Life Minimalists, a profile of one of my readers in their own words. If you’d like to participate, click here for details.
Today, we have a wonderful story from Ashley, who tells us how she discovered and embraced her inner minimalist.
I suppose I discovered that I had been something of a minimalist all along one day at the Apple Store. Grimacing as I note that my phone automatically capitalizes the store name, imbuing an element of respect that I do not emulate, I reflect back on the day that I had wanted to “check into that whole phone upgrading thing.”
My boyfriend and I drove the forty minutes to a mall big enough to support an Apple Store. In our locality, distance is often measured in time, due to the reality of nothing besides the Dollar General being in close proximity to our town.
(Side note: I had to manually capitalize Dollar General. Perhaps another subconscious reminder that the wealthy program us to recognize their concepts of respect and status?)
We walked into the melee, he more confidently than I, observing the unsatiated hordes pawing at tethered devices and ogling watches through the clear glass display cases. A young man tapped our names into a device to wait for attention, a second noted our concerns, and (much later) a third came to offer assistance.
He inquired as to our phone services as though judging us in accordance with an unseen ranking chart, asked about features that sparked interest, all the while noting that we both were somewhat taken aback and lagging in response times. On the Apple clock, it seems as though a moment of thought cannot be afforded the customer.
After the first wave of an overwhelming desire to flee subsided, I animated instantaneously. No, I am not on social media. No, I do not intend to start. No, I don’t download the apps for every store I visit in the hopes of easing my shopping experience.
If it could give a Star Wars type hologram voicemail I’d be interested, however. The gentleman was not amused.
Within five minutes, he had an estimate of which device would best suit our needs. They were approximately 1000.00 and 800.00, respectively.
I asked the question that had been already cast aside twice. “How am I billed? If I am not upgrading through my carrier, what happens?”
He happily jumped to his most eagerly anticipated part of his spiel; that is, he proudly discussed the company’s liaison with a third party bank that offers lines of credit to their customers. “Where is it? I want to go to there.”
“Miss,” he patronizingly sighed with a slight glance upward as though begging for patience, “it isn’t a brick and mortar bank, per se. You can’t simply walk in, as you stated. It’s just the wave of the future.”
“Would this go on my credit report?”
The gentleman stopped, mouth slightly agape, stammering that he had not had that question before. Four microphone relays later, the answer is yes.
I walked out. My boyfriend, who up to that point wasn’t especially eager to upgrade simply because he is “cheap,” asked me what happened.
I will not go into debt for a phone. I will not jeopardize the future of my credit report over a device that is outdated almost as quickly as it lands in my hands. And, God willing, I will manage my affairs well enough that I won’t have to worry about my credit report at all.
Up to that moment, he had known that I was inclined to donate things regularly and shop very little. He often laughed that he would be the next thing carted off to a charitable cause. It was this day that we both realized that this structure of belief, my worldview, ran far deeper than a few garbage bags of clothing. I had been the person who had failed to upgrade the television I was given in 1991 until 2013, both because she had become part of the family and because I was out adventuring too much to watch it regularly anyway. I had been the person who could give generously and regularly and find ways to not just make do, but make the best of it.
Recently, at the request of a close associate, we went to look at a large house. It would be a quick sell and we would stand to gain instant equity from the transaction. I went along, with an open mind, but within the first few moments he was thanking the seller for their time. I had just whispered to ask why there were two kitchen sinks. Honest question–I grew up humbly and had never seen this.
“I didn’t realize until I saw you standing in the middle of that ridiculously giant kitchen that we are both minimalists now. Let’s just stick with what we need.”
I never thought minimalism would have a contagious effect, but it has found us both certain that we can downsize our belongings to fit in the house he already owns, save a great deal, and embrace a future wherein we chase our dreams rather than dodging those bills.