Tuesday, August 4, 2009

The Evolution of Goodwill

And no, I don't mean goodwill in the sense of Angelina Jolie adopting as many orphan babies as she can to dress in satin and drag to award shows...nor am I referring to goodwill in the sense of Oprah building a school in a dusty and devastated African village (only to be called back a short while later to defend the behavior occurring within). I am speaking of goodwill as in Goodwill, Industries Inc.

I have been shopping at Goodwill ever since the days of ramen noodles and low-budget apartment decorating in college. In my less glorious days, I even brought home a couch or two, after stopping by Kroger on the way back to rent a steam cleaner for, well for as long as it took. And my "secret" Goodwill was the one in the Hartland neighborhood, where all of the drivers of Lexuses and BMW's dropped off their secondhand goods. I thought I was on to something. A pair of pants for $2.50? What a deal! Ten workout t-shirts for $10? What a steal! (I have no idea who Razenski was, but I wore his baseball shirt for a summer of spinning classes). I have worn cotton billboards for all sorts of sporting teams, charities, and churches - all for less than if I had bought that shirt from the original team, charity, or church. It's a win-win!

But I knew that my world was colliding with an unseen force when my mom, a driver of her very own Lexus, pranced out of the bedroom one morning and said "how do you like my new shirt? I got it at Goodwill!" Uh, what?? You mean, you bought it at Eddie Bauer and was getting ready to donate it to Goodwill but then thought better of it?? No, she assured me. It had really come from Goodwill. I was about to pass out. I should be thrilled that others more fortunate than me were seeing the good and willing to give it a shot. But really I just thought, but the wealthy have the same taste in clothes, decor, purses as me and they will come buy them all up (because honestly, there were some weeks that I had to put that purse off until the next paycheck, even though it was priced at a staggering $4.50). I mumbled something about how nice her shirt was and vowed to pay closer attention to my fellow shoppers the next time I rummaged through my friendly neighborhood store.

And it was true. It was happening. More Volvos in the parking lot - and not to just drop off the bedroom decor from a daughter gone to college. They were buying things. They weren't trying anything on mind you, but then that's the price of privilege. It doesn't fit? Oh well, I'll just add it to my bag of Goodwill stuff to donate. And isn't that the very definition of defecating where you eat? You should not be shopping at the same place where you take everything you deem unworthy to even sell in a yard sale or give to your closest friends. And then I saw the most unusual event take place - a woman pulled up to the Boston Road Goodwill in a Mercedes, got out, walked in, looked around for about 15 minutes, and then walked up to the counter and purchased a mattress set. Yes, a mattress set. Ewwwww!!!! I'm not sure how you would even go about cleaning a mattress set but all I can say is bedbugs, lady, bedbugs! If they have them at the Ritz-Carlton in New York City, then that set you just bought probably isn't sparkling clean, either. So, of course, my mind goes to work on why she would do such a thing. And my decision is: she just married a wealthy doctor (or lawyer, neurosurgeon, or computer genius) and she has acquired a very moody, very hormonal, very aggressive teenager for a stepson. Said stepson needs a place to sleep in their new mansion out in Hamburg. And she has promised her husband as he rushed out to do brain surgery that she would see to it that he had a boxsprings and mattress by the end of the day! Mattress set for angry new stepson? Check! It's the only way this scenario makes any sense.

I heart Goodwill. I really, really do. They employ what many consider to be the less desirable employees and they provide an invaluable service (I mean, it is because of Goodwill that our landfills aren't worse than they are right now. Goodwill has always been our ultimate recycling plan). But this new phenomenon of hitting Macy's, hitting Starbucks, making a stop at Pottery Barn and rounding out the day with Goodwill still befuddles me. I'm sure the detergent and bleach corporations are thrilled, though.

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