Starting this post I’m a little nervous, actually. I’m afraid of my intentions being taken the wrong way. I’m really afraid of my new friends (the majority of whom I’ve only “met” on FaceBook or via the phone) thinking that I’ve got some nerve asking to borrow things from them before we’ve even seen each other face to face.
However, I am willing to accept that judgment for the sake of a social experiment our family is trying out. If you’re not in the Killeen area, the following won’t apply to you but you’re more than welcome to read along and see what happens. You’ll be seeing the results (good or bad) as I do. In real-time. Like reality tv. And we all love a good reality show, right?
So, Killeen-area or not, read on to find out more about the official:
Hamrick family Social Experiment:
My husband and I read (or listened, to, rather) a fascinating book during our drive from SC to TX. It was called More or Less by Jeff Shinabarger. The premise was that we, as Americans, have way more stuff than we need and could live with less. The author’s intent wasn’t to convince the reader to get rid of everything and live on the bare minimum, but to consider their lifestyle and determine if there was an area in which less would be not only sufficient, but would actually lead to a higher quality of life.
Matt and I were overweight on our HHGs from Germany to SC, so we purged many of our items. We felt confident we’d come in underweight for this move. But we were wrong and still came in overweight (though we are contesting this). Still, the fact that we were close to being overweight is a good enough reason to consider weeding through our things.
I will give you an example from the book: Jeff’s wife is a PA who works in a clinic that cares for lower-income families who often rely on public transportation or on walking to get wherever they need to go. His wife wanted to know how her patients lived so she conducted a personal social experiment in which she gave up her vehicle for 40 days. She walked to work and back every day regardless of the weather conditions. She learned many lessons which she shares in the book.
Now, to our own social experiment.
When our HHGs arrive, we are going to get rid of at least a third of our belongings. We have contacted a children’s home in the area to see if they can use the totes and totes of boys’ clothing we have. We would like to find a few other organizations that can benefit from the things we really don’t need.
We are currently living in a small, barely-furnished, 4BR apartment and very glad to be out of the hotel while we wait for a house on post. Our wait could be anywhere from one to six months… nice span of time, huh?
Here’s the bottom line: In light of the fact that we really want to eliminate extra items from our house, we don’t want to buy items to hold us over during the time we are in temporary housing. We have gone to ACS and borrowed a full kitchen of things, but they are on a 30-day loan and will not be extended except for dire financial circumstances, which do not apply to us. We could afford to go out and buy temporary things to use while we are here, but in this military life, we could find ourselves doing that every few years. In light of what we’ve learned through More or Less we don’t want to add to our collection of “things.”
The author speaks frequently of the “power of the ask.” It’s how most of his social experiments have begun. And so I decided I would ask for the things we would like to borrow from the people around us who know what this life is like.
First, I’ll set a few things upfront, so you can decide if you want to participate.
1. We honestly don’t know if we’ll be here one, two, or six months.
2. We have four children so I really don’t want to borrow anything you are sentimental about (or expensive items).
3. I will photograph and inventory every item I receive and will be sure you get back what you loan.
4. If we break something we will replace it with a brand new one.
5. If you happen to offer something to us that you don’t actually want back we will donate it to a nearby charity or the Thrift Store on post once we’ve gotten our HHGs… whenever that is.
Secondly, here is a list of what I need and when I need it.
These items we need soon. As in, we will have to buy these things right away if we don’t find a loaner item.
1. A sharp knife for cutting vegetables and meat in meal-prep (I used a butter knife last night… it was actually easier than I expected).
2. 4 lamps. (Table lamps or floor lamps. No preference. The bedrooms literally have no lights in them… they have ceiling fans with no lights… using flashlights for now.)
3. Cutting board
4. 4 small trash cans and one large (kitchen) trash can (We will use bags in them, and wash them out before we return them.)
We borrowed the following items from ACS and have them on hand until 15 July.
• can opener
• crock pot
• dish drainer
• 2 folding chairs
• 1 folding table
• ironing board
• large mixing bowl
• medium mixing bowl
• small mixing bowl
• gallon pitcher
• pizza cutter
• 2 qt pot and lid
• potato peeler
• serving spoon
Six each of:
• butter knives
• dinner plates
• smaller (kid-sized plates)
Our goal is to buy only food (or the few items we knew we were going to purchase once we got here, like a replacement TV since we tossed one that was on the fritz) during the time we are living in temporary quarters. Sort of like a self-imposed spending freeze.
If you want to participate in our Social Experiment, please go to our Evite and use the drop-down menu. It will say “Sign up to bring something” as if it’s for a pot-luck meal.
Thanks for reading!