You tend not to value
This is a strange phenomenon and while, of course, not universal, it pops up frequently in the lives of relatively privileged people.
I know of a woman who received a fabulously valuable natural mink fur coat from her grandmother and proceeded to wear it ‘to death’ in the worst weather and conditions. When asked why she treated it so badly, she answered that it was just an old, beat up warm coat, why should she treat it specially. She had her own mink coat which was used for her special occasions. She dismissed her grandmother’s coat as an old beat up throw away she was disappointed to have received!
I know of another type of situation where a senior employee of a small company had a wife employed by a major big company. The wife’s health benefits covered the husband and were great, but the husband never advised his company, which kept paying about $15,000/year for his family health insurance. When that waste came to light and he was asked why he had allowed the double up to happen, he answered by saying “It was not costing me anything, and who knows what might happen!”
The answer to the basic question is that everything is in the eye of the beholder and different peoples’ eyes and minds see things very differently. It is very difficult to tell the age of a grown horse. So, if you receive a gift of a horse, look in the horse’s mouth and you can pretty well tell the horse’s age from the teeth. An aged free horse may not be worth feeding. Do not take a chance.
As we all go through life, we get lots of things for nothing. A good joke gets a good laugh. Watering your neighbor’s garden while he is out of town presumably begets some gratitude but often goes unremembered and may be even complained about, if some flowers drooped?
As you reflect on this topic I guess you will think of plenty examples in your life –of both giving and receiving –of situations in which ‘free’ can be a confusing and distorting factor which we all need to be aware of and deal with accordingly.
Author’s note: I wrote on this same subject back in 2011. That piece addresses added dimensions that today’s readers may find interesting. Click here to read the piece.