Yesterday I met with a car emergency in the middle of a highway when I was returning from my job. My car just stopped when I was driving and the car engine just refused to start. I was literally stranded in the middle lane of a busy highway in a rush hour. I had to call 911. Police arrived immediately and helped me move my car to the shoulder. My car was eventually towed to a nearby auto repair shop and then I called my friend Gaurango to check if he is available to pick me up from there.
I could have called a cab. But I didn't. I could have paid Gaurango for the ride. But I didn't. Because I now believe in a gift economy. And so I wanted to pay with my "emotional credit".
What is "emotional credit"? Well, I created my own definition of it. When we buy a product or a service from someone, we pay the seller some money in return. But why money? And why not something else? The answer is, the traditional practice is to measure the product or service using a scale of money and pay that specific amount to the seller. Most of the time we don't realize, but this also implies an implicit communication to the seller: "I don't want to have a long term relationship with you!". Honestly, how many of us build a friendship with people who works in a local grocery store or a restaurant?
On the other hand, "emotional credit" means owing a favor. And, most importantly, it means living with the gratitude and acknowledging that the favor needs to be returned at a time when the other person needs it. Not when it is convenient for me and not refusing to show gratitude by paying money.
I promised myself to be there for Gaurango when he needs me. Also, I dream to live in a community where even a stranger will help me the same way Gaurango did yesterday. And I dream to live in a community where the currency will be our "emotional credit" so that we can all be connected, be friends and be of help to each other. It's just our faith and selflessness that we all need to work on a little bit. But I'm sure, that day will not be too far away if we all try.
Abhimanyu Gupta lives in Chesterfield, Missouri with his wife Nilanjana & son Anusurya. His profession is software testing and his passion are music and books. He can be reached via Email, LinkedIn or Facebook.