Just one step. Just one mile. Just one dollar. Just one kiss. Just one person. When we look at life through the lens of ‘one,’ everything becomes that much more attainable. ~Mark Ebeling
The other day, I ran out of ink for my printer. Since there was no ink available for my printer on Ometepe Island, I sent Maxwell, my librarian, to the mainland to buy ink. It is time to make him a new work contract, so I figured he would be happy to ferry to the mainland so I could print him a new contract…and he was!
I gave him an old cartridge and asked him to buy just one black cartridge. He called from the mainland to ask me, “Do you want the $13 cartridge or the $35 cartridge?” “What’s the difference?” I asked. “One cartridge is 1/4 full of ink and the other is full of ink,” he said.
I laughed because I had never heard of selling an ink cartridge only 1/4 full. I told him to buy the $35 black ink and a 1/4 full tricolor ink because who knows when we will have to replenish the ink supply and make another trip to the mainland.
Yet, it made me think about the concept of ‘just one’ in Nicaragua. $35 is the average weekly salary for people in Nicaragua. Very few people can afford to buy a full cartridge of ink, if they even have a printer, because that is 1/4 of their monthly salary…for an ink cartridge! So, HP in Central America makes ink more attainable and affordable by selling 2 oz in a cartridge.
Nicaragua caters to the poor by selling ‘just one’ of almost everything. I always have to check the 4 pack of butter because sometimes there are only two or three sticks of butter in the box. You can buy one egg, one cigarette, one stick of butter, one pill, one pencil or pen, one soda, one beer…and the list goes on.
In the U.S. have you noticed the label on multipacks that says, “Not to be sold separately?”
My understanding is that this isn’t a contractual term, but rather a warning that the items don’t satisfy legal requirements for individual sale. The seller and manufacturer likely don’t care whether you resell the items, but the government does.
In the U.S. at least, regulations of the Food and Drug Administration require that (with certain exceptions) food items sold at retail must be marked with a Nutrition Facts label, showing calorie counts, fat and sugar content, and so on.
For example, if you buy a big multipack of tiny (“fun size”) candy bars, the manufacturer usually won’t have printed Nutrition Facts on each candy bar’s wrapper (because it’s too small). There will instead be a label on the outer bag. As such, you can’t legally resell the candy bars individually, because they don’t meet labeling requirements. In fact, the FDA says that manufacturers are required to print “This unit not labeled for retail sale” on individual items if they don’t have Nutrition Facts labels.
Multipacks exist in Nicaragua, but generally, you can remove one of the items from the container if you only want to buy one. Speaking of multipacks, Pali has started selling their eggs in sealed plastic containers of 6 to 12 to 30 eggs. There is no way to remove ‘just one’ egg from the container and this makes me very sad.
In Nicaragua, buying in bulk generally doesn’t save you money, unless you are shopping in Pricemart. For example, in Pali when they ring up my items purchased, they list each stick of butter separately on the receipt. I’ve been in the banana bread mode of baking for Christmas, and I needed three boxes of butter, with four sticks in each box, for my baking needs.
When I checked my receipt from Pali, each stick was listed separately…12 separate butter stick purchases. Now, I’ll bet they always buy the $35 ink cartridge for their machines. My point is that buying in bulk makes no price difference in Nicaragua in most stores.
The ‘just one’ concept in Nicaragua is alive and well…in most cases. It allows everything to become more attainable and affordable, especially considering the average monthly salary is $150-$200 a month.
When we look at life through the lens of ‘just one’, everything can be achieved through ‘just one’ small step at a time: purchasing one thing to fulfill your needs, fulfilling dreams, overcoming fear…anything you wish to be different from the way it is. That’s what life in Nicaragua is like…one small step ‘just one’ at a time…hopeful, encouraging, and fulfilling.