What’s it worth?

Contributing Editor Walt Pickut
Contributing Editor Walt Pickut

Money is pretty odd stuff.

Every $10 bill, for instance, looks pretty much like every other one. Yet one of them can buy about 15 pounds of potatoes, a 5-minute taxi ride in New York City, or even a 2-pack of tongue scrapers from Amazon. None of them look like the $10 bill. See? Weird!

But even stranger is the forms money can take. Most countries make theirs out of paper, but that’s boring. Consider these:

In the South Pacific, on the Solomon Islands, dolphin teeth are a form of currency. Dolphin teeth are the key to purchasing a bride. The going rate is about 1,000 teeth per bride, equivalent to 10 dolphins.

In Katanga, the now-Democratic Republic of Congo, x-shaped copper Katanga Crosses weighing between 1 and 2.5 pounds were seen as symbols of great wealth. One Katanga Cross could buy 22 pounds of flour.

On the Micronesian island of Yap, massive limestone disks with a hole in the middle, between 2 inches and 15 feet in diameter are worth whatever a buyer and seller agree on, but may be related to how many people died transporting the thing.

See what I mean? Money is pretty odd stuff.

So, if you didn’t have any nickels, dimes, or dollars, what would you use for money? You would probably barter. That means you would exchange goods or services for other goods or services without the use of money.

And everybody has something worth something to somebody else. In that sense, you actually might be far richer, or poorer, than you ever knew.

That’s why, this week, your Jamestown Gazette’s cover story is talking about real estate, probably everybody’s most valuable possession. Most of our homes, whether we own them, a bank owns them, or a landlord owns them, are worth a certain dollar value. But is that really all they are worth?

If offered a big enough pile of money just about all of us would give up the place we live in, whether it is a house, an apartment, or a palace on four wheels.

You might sell your house, but would you sell your home? See the difference? A house is where you keep your stuff. A home is where your heart is, where your loved ones are, where your memories and your dreams live.
That’s what makes the real estate business so interesting just now. If people really only wanted boxes big enough to sit in, any wooden box would be good enough. But people want homes, the right homes.

Today, if you or I need a new place to make into a home, the business of finding one has been complicated by a pandemic that has changed the meaning of home, if only slightly. That difference can matter. The word “Home” has taken on a stronger sense of “shelter,” or “safe haven,” or even “unwelcome confinement.”

Homes have emotions and meanings attached to them that a price tag cannot reflect.

Because of that, this week we invite our readers to consider one more group of people we can add to the list of essential care-givers who have become so important in these dangerous days. They are the house hunters who become home hunters—real estate agents.

That might be a new thought for most of us, but someone who can help find a house to turn into a home has an uncommon skill worth knowing.

Enjoy the read.

Walt Pickut

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Walt Pickut
Walt Pickut’s writing career began with publishing medical research in1971 while working at the Jersey City Medical Center and the NYU Hospital and School of Medicine. Walt holds board registries in respiratory care and sleep technology as well as bachelor's degrees in biology and communication, and a master's degrees in physiology from Fairleigh-Dickinson University in New Jersey, with additional graduate work in mass communication completed at SUNY Amherst. He currently teaches Presentational Speaking in the Houghton College PACE program at JCC and holds memberships in the Society of Professional Journalists and the American Society of Business Publication Editors. He lives in Jamestown with his wife Nancy, an MSW social worker, and has three children: Dr. Cait Lamberton in Pittsburgh, Bill Pickut, a marketing executive in Chicago, and Rev. Matt Pickut in Plymouth, IN.