The Middlebury Campus

WGMFU: All About the Benjamins

By NIA ROBINSON

One of the lessons I learned from my childhood that I carried with me to Middlebury is to share what I have. Do I always follow it? No, sometimes there are only so many MiddCakes to go around. When I do share with people or foot the bill, I don’t expect my friends to pay me back. There will be times when I ask, but I never hold it against them if they can’t pay; we’re all struggling at different levels. When they do pay me back, monetarily or otherwise, they are most often from a lower socioeconomic background and do not always have the means to pay me back, but they do. As for my friends who are more well-off, I have stopped asking.

Before I explain more, it is important to acknowledge that Middlebury is characterized by class segregation, so if you are thinking, “My friends always pay me back,” either you have a small circle or all of your friends come from the same socioeconomic background. If you are thinking, “I’m rich, and I always pay people back,” keep going. Personally, I don’t believe in applauding a fish for swimming.

I remember a time where I bought dinner for two friends and myself because it was more convenient for one of us to pay. One of them told me she would pay me back when she got paid the next Friday, which was no issue. The other said she would that night, but forgot, which was also not a problem. When the next Friday came, the first friend paid me back and offered to buy me coffee since she had felt bad. The other friend still hadn’t paid, but texted a group of us that not everyone had paid her for something that wasn’t hers in the first place.

Maybe this is not the best example that shows this issue on a larger scale. I could write about the time I supplied food for more than 15 people and only one person gave me $5. I could also talk about my friends who are the first to take and the last to give — but this is not about exposing people. At the same time, it says something if you are the person who always takes, but never gives. Repayment doesn’t have to be in the form of money. There are forms of support other than money that affirm relationships rather than replace what was lost.

When people share what they have with me, I feel the need to pay them back at some point because it is the right thing to do. This could be a difference in how people are raised or a difference in ideology. I am tired of watching friends with the means avoid paying, while my friends who have tighter restraints feel guilty about not being able to pay.

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