Me, Carol and Coni at my going away dinner party in Santiago, Chile.

I’ve been listening to Planet Money since the beginning. Actually since before the beginning, since [the This American Life episode]( “The Giant Pool of Money This American Life”). I love it. The most recent episode about the life span of a t-shirt moved me to leave my first comment. It went like this…

While visiting Chile for a month in 2009, I experienced a similar sort of moment in the Long Story of a T-Shirt.

I was staying with some kids who were kind enough to put me up for month even though we had just met. They took me around to see all the stuff in their life. One of the stuffs was a weekly illegal market in one of Santiago’s big parks. It was like a flea market without tables. Everyone used blankets on the ground because you could quickly hide it when the cops came by. But it was HUGE… probably 5 blocks long and 2 wide. Sincerely.

So we walked around for a good while and I saw lots of stuff that would’ve been fine gifts for friends who enjoy knick knacks and trinkets. I was living out of my backpack and didn’t want to add weight to my very spartan inventory (~10 pounds).

But then I saw it: a D.A.R.E. t-shirt.

Not just any D.A.R.E. t-shirt, mind you. It was the original design from when the tagline was still “To Keep Kids Off Drugs” before they changed it to “To Resist Drugs and Violence”.

I went to Catholic schools as a kid and we never had the D.A.R.E. program. That meant I never had an old D.A.R.E. t-shirt lying around in box in the basement when I got older and involved in the straightedge scene. That D.A.R.E. t-shirt was super popular in that scene and I always wanted one. And now after all that time, there it was.

I still have that shirt now. I wear it often. It’s soft and worn in a way that new clothes can’t match (even the pre-distressed ones).

Here’s the hilarious thing, it cost me fifty cents (whatever the conversion was at the time). 50 cents and 15 years and 6,000 miles.