I chatted away to her for a bit and worked out they were trying to encourage people to walk and cycle in the local area and determining the barriers to doing so. As an avid cyclist, she’s picked the right person to bend her ear.
At the end of the survey she offered to send me a ‘goody bag’ with cycle and walking maps of the local area and beyond. I politely declined and she looked at me suspiciously: ‘But it’s a free goody bag’, she said. ‘It’s free.’
I managed to get back inside without taking her up on the offer of more clutter being sent to my house, and thinking back on it I realise what she was offering wasn’t ‘free’.
It was ‘free’ in the sense that it wouldn’t have cost me anything financially, but it would cost me in other ways.
I spent years ‘salvaging’ free items from other people’s front gardens and jumping at the chance to take something if someone was giving it away. I then spent years lugging other people’s junk from house to house.
It cost me time and energy, it was exhausting.
Of course, the goody bag is a lot less hassle than a ‘free’ dresser or chair but the same principle applies: free comes at a cost.
And if I don’t need something then it’s definitely not ‘free’.