When this assignment was first explained to me, I immediately envisioned myself schmoozing and sweet talking my way from paperclip to, well I’m not sure what - but something far better, in no time. I am competitive, goal-oriented and consider myself to be outgoing and personable (all of the things you need to convince people that they should trade things with you right?). I was convinced that this whole trading thing would be a breeze. I am embarrassed to say that I am still in possession of my little red paperclip. This is far trickier than I imagined.
|Behold ... The pesky paperclip|
My initial strategy was to go for people who I knew would trade with me just to help me out and to be a part of the project. I made no offers or arguments and put the ball into their court, basically saying, “what will you trade me for my paperclip?” One of the girls that I have been living with at a training camp offered hair clips, a tennis ball, and an oversized bandage (separately) in exchange for the paperclip. At first, all of these seemed like great offers, and certainly a step up from an insignificant office artifact (in the age of so many electronic documents, are paperclips still widely used?). However, I found myself hesitating and denying the potential trades. I don’t know what I was expecting for my first trade, and maybe I set my standards too high, but none of these items felt “right.” I know that sort of sounded like I thought that I was dating my paperclip or trading my pet or something, but I have to say, I was really following my gut with this initial part and kind of wingin’ it.
I quickly realized that each trade I made would directly affect the next trade, meaning that from now on I am going to need some sort of plan, albeit a rough one. I didn’t want to make my first trade a limiting one. For example, I knew that if I traded my paperclip for the hair clip, then my next trade would most likely be limited to someone who was in need of a hair clip (a girl or an extremely shaggy-haired boy), and would limit my trading options. What is and who are my target market exactly? I became aware of the fact that by making a fairly gender-specific trade right off the bat, it would be difficult to break out of that pattern. To think, this was only my first hiccup, and I still haven’t made a trade. UGH
Next I considered the tennis ball. It is certainly bigger in size, brighter in colour, and in my opinion, generally more exciting than a paperclip. Great trade right? But really, who needs a single tennis ball these days? Not to point out the obvious, but it is winter and I don’t exactly picture myself putting on a cute white outfit and hitting the courts. Sure, I was in Florida at the time, and yes, maybe someone would have a use for one, but I also knew that I was going to be heading home in a few days and the chances of me finding a willing trader were going to be slim. So after the initial reaction of “yes this is a wicked trade” I began to wonder, “is this actually a step up?” I’m not sure. I am now at a crossroad where I feel as though my first trade may in fact, be my most important one (because it will set the tone for the next trade, and the trade, after that, and so on), but I cannot waste time waiting around for someone to just offer me his or her sports car in exchange for my measly paperclip.
On that note, if anyone would like to offer me a wonderful trade (think expensive, think shiny, think glamorous), please do not hesitate to let me know!