Tuesday, May 7, 2013

On Protective Equipment, and Second-Hand Things.

Today, I bought elbow and knee pads for my skateboard, because while I don't mind the falling or the getting hurt or the colourful bruises, I definitely mind the downtime. I would like to be able to get back up and keep going, not need to take three days to recover.

And when I bought the pads, I had this awful twinge of guilt: I already have elbow and knee pads. I don't really need to buy new ones. They're somewhere in a box in Spokane, and I've had them for twelve years. They're scuffed to hell, the elastic and velcro is shot, and they are in Spokane.

I don't really need to buy new pads.

Except that I really, really do.

a) Protective equipment is important, and may make my mommy less neurotic about the fact that her baby is on a skateboard.

2) The pads I have in Spokane were second hand when I got them from Goodwill twelve years ago. They are now ancient, itchy, slide around, and are in Spokane.

There is something very important to me about the fact that I went out and bought not only a new pice of sports equipment, but a set of new protective equipment to go along with.

My family is very poor. We have lived below the poverty level my entire life. We have a place to live, property and a house (in Spokane), so I cannot say that I ever really wanted for anything. I have never been homeless, I have never gone hungry.

But damn if I haven't spent my whole life in second-hand everything. Don't get me wrong, I still find myself combing Goodwill for things, and thriftstores are the very best way to get unique and interesting clothing at a price I can afford ($1.99 Grossgrain ruby silk suspenders? I think so!), but... It is very disheartening to know that the kneepads you're wearing have already been through a hundred accidents before you ever got your knees into them.

Half of what made my karate equipment so important for me was the fact that everything was new. No one else had owned my gi before, nor any of my belts, nor even the shirt that went under my top. It was mine. My first brand-new bike was a major milestone, and I paid for half of that myself. I got a new helmet and lock with that -- I bought the helmet myself, and the man who ran the bikeshop gave me the lock.

Sometimes, you need new equipment. Sometimes, you need to spend the money, go to the shop, and find the new equipment to ensure safety and security. Sometimes it just has to be new. Second-hand is fine, but I know that I will get my $47 out of these pads. I know that these will last me for several years, and probably won't feel like they're made out of fiberglass insulation. I know that no one has fallen off of anything and scuffed them up, and I know that no one has sweated sweaty knee sweat into them.

There are some things for which second-hand is a good thing. There are some things which are less so.

And sometimes, you just need to replace the old, used, second-hand, other-side-of-the-state things with something new.

And not just New-to-You, either.

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