Mid-way through college, Bulgaria got its first McDonnalds, right smack in the center of the city. One Friday evening my sister offered to take me there for a treat. I was at the end of my financial rope so I accepted. Free dinner, what’s to refuse! Once we got there, a brand new, shiny, high-end restaurant (seemingly to us), was awaiting. I glanced at the menu, overcame my ego and said - “Instead of treating me to one dinner here, can I have the money for it. It will get me through a a few dinners purchased elsewhere.”
It felt wasteful to eat at McDonalds when I had no 2 pennies in my pocket. I thought it was a perfectly reasonable request. “Well, it’s my money and I don’t want to eat alone, so you either stay and eat with me, or not. But I am not giving you money and eating alone.” - her reply stung. I felt awkward and a bit ashamed - was I just a dinner companion? not treated to dinner by my sister? As I was munching on my burger I swore never to rely on family for money and financial favors.
Shortly after I brought my Mom’s old sewing machine to the dormitories and set up an alterations shop. Fixing a piece of clothing every couple of weeks upped my monthly budget by half. I was thrilled - doing something I liked, meeting more of college kids - my clientele, and not feeling like a beggar ever again.