As a commuter, I often come into contact with various individuals, whether they are morning commuters to work, or the people that are asking for spare change on the side of the corner. When I started my education at UIC my parents were very adamant on telling me not to talk to anyone, especially homeless persons, that all they wanted money for was drugs and alcohol. I began my commutes as being very alert of my surroundings, and prejudging these individuals based on the fact that they are homeless and most likely looking for drug money. As the weather has begun to change, and the air is brisk and frozen, I still see some of the same individuals in the same spots looking for spare change. As I’m wrapped in scarves and covered by my warm jacket I see these people with nothing but a light coat on. It is only human nature to feel emotional while passing them while they are freezing and desperate. So against my parent’s advice, I gave a man two dollars. The look on his face when he received the money was one of hope and gratitude. He began to thank me over and over, and while I looked away he scurried into McDonalds and purchased a cup of hot coffee. My simple two dollars was not drug money, but to this man it was a chance at warmth and a moment of comfort. This example further adds to Marx’s ideas of value. I would see two dollars as hardly anything, maybe enough to purchase a soda or a bag of chips. More than likely I would forget about it even being in my wallet due to it being so little money. However, to this man this money meant so much more to him than it ever would me. In some ways it can be seen as exchange value. I exchanged a measly two dollars for the feeling of satisfaction and happiness that I was able to possibly make a man’s morning. In turn he was able to get out of the cold for a bit and realize that human kindness does still exist.
What an individual sees as valuable changes from person to person. This is based on my factors, whether it be the person’s financial state, or even their upbringing. Marx has made clear that what may be valuable to one person may not be to another. Through the example of the homeless man and the two dollars one can see how value is different among everyone, and how use value and exchange value can be different as well. For me two dollars would be used just because I could, to him that money gave him warmth and a moment of security. An exchange that was definitely worth it in many ways.