The world today seems to be going all topsy-turvy because of the “Global Economy”. Everyday I read more about cut backs here, lay-offs there and a new term that I find mildly amusing – being made redundant. Seriously? Has our society become so thin skinned that we have resorted to the thesaurus to ease the pain of being fired? Instead of saying, “Sam, I am sorry but you are no longer needed here, and your position is no longer useful to the company.” It is somehow BETTER to hear, “Sam, we are making you redundant.” I wouldn’t know what to do with that. I would sit there; blank faced wondering what I should say. But I digress. The point was that the world seems to be going through a purse pinching, cancel that Latte, I’ll walk to work if I still have a job to walk to – crisis time.
I am completely unaffected by this. I am not saying this to be arrogant, or brag about my amazing job, but the global economy has little effect on me or my life. Why? I have always lived this way. My best friend often jokes that I am the only woman in the world who can have $20 at the beginning of the month, and come the thirtieth I still have about $10. I am not just frugal; I learned the value of money very early in my life. And I am not afraid of living off of potatoes.
I grew up in a predominately pretentious, little white suburb in Southern California just south east of Pasadena. The San Gabriel Mountains and the Angeles National Forrest were literally in my back yard. La Canada, California – home to Descanso Gardens, The LCHS Spartans, Christians and soccer moms galore. It is now called La Canada Flintridge and is even more gentrified than when I was growing up – if that is even possible. Back then there was no movie theater, no shopping mall and one video store. You were either an alum of La Canada Elementary or Paradise Canyon. Your parents made you attend one of five churches on Sunday and you played on a sports team.
As I got older, my friends and I embarked on new adventures such as meeting at Winchel’s Donuts to discuss where the party was, or we would drive up Angeles Crest Highway and drink in our cars until the cops came. Other times we would go to a point called Sugar Loaf and just “hang out”. Most times we partied at our friend’s houses. These friends usually had parents who thought it best for their sweet darlings to do their drinking under their roof, even if they were not home. God bless ‘em. As a point of reference, I had friends named Missy, Beau, Becky, Heidi, Holly, Bry, Brent, Dustin, K.C. and Shari.
This was La Canada.
My parents were Republican, my brother was Republican and I am pretty sure that our dog was Republican. I think that there was some sort of paper you had to fill out before buying property stating that you promised to vote republican, stay white and not bring in any outsiders to the village. I don’t think I knew anyone who was a democrat growing up. It was rumored that my dad was, but he never talked about it. Fear of my mother will strike you silent.
Statistically, my family was on the “poor” side. This is to say that my father built our home with his own two hands, my mother worked, both my brother and I had to get jobs when we turned sixteen, and unlike the majority of my friends at school, I was not given a car for my birthday. At high school graduation when all of my friends were hoping in their new cars and heading off to college I was unwrapping my Lava Lamp that flowed the color of the LCHS Spartans. God job kid.
I worked. I understood that cars cost money, and money didn’t grow in my mom’s purse or daddy’s pocket. My first car was purchased in cash; by me with money I earned over three years working at Domino’s pizza. I might have hated her for it at the time but my mother didn’t see the point in me having my own car if I could just borrow hers. In my household if you wanted something, you figured out how much it cost and saved your allowance. ALL-OW-ANCE. That’s a stipend that parents used to give their kids for helping out around the house and doing chores before they were old enough to get a part time job. You want a new toy? Then save your pennies little girl.
I have to say, I am really happy that my mom never felt the pressure to show me how much she cared by giving me everything that I wanted. I say this now with the beauty of hindsight. When I was 16 or 17 I was quite pissed off about having to be the only kid with a job – a real job – not just baby-sitting. And it is all paying off now.
I am living in Europe now still poor as fuck, but it doesn’t really affect me. I don’t own a car, so my transportation costs about $40/month. Food here is not really expensive and I don’t go out to eat very often. I keep my partying and drinking to the nights I work at the bar so it’s free. I have four part time jobs. I NEVER even think of entering a Starbucks, and I don’t buy new things unless I need them. I don’t have cable, TiVo or Netflicks. My only real indulgence is going to the movies now and again. And I am happy.
I know what you are thinking. “Sure, I would live that way if I lived in Europe too.” Well, I got news for you tough guy. I lived this way in America. (Except maybe the car – but I only drove when I HAD too. I hate driving.) Don’t believe me? Ask my best friend Jenn. She will confirm that I would come close to having a panic attack at the thought of buying anything more than $9.99 DVD from target, or a pair of cute shoes on sale at Payless.
Why am I bothering to tell you this? Well, honestly I am tired of hearing America complain that it can’t afford a new car…this year. Because we need a new car EVERY YEAR or so. I am tired of hearing, “How am I supposed to live under 6 figures?” Get a grip and toss that Prada bitch. I am tired of hearing about rising gas prices, expanding waistlines and no one walking! I am tired of seeing kids with cell phones, ipods, iphones and whatnot and hearing their parents complain about not being able to afford ________. I bet your little princess doesn’t have a job does she? And I’ll tell you this – a book costs a lot less than an iphone. I am tired of hearing American’s complain about a lack of jobs, but refuse to put on an apron or uniform of any kind. American pride is bankrupting America.
So, I want to thank you Kevin Bacon for working in the Mill in “Footloose” so you could put gas in your old BW Bug and drive yourself to the Prom. Thanks Mollie Ringwald for working after school at Tracks in “Pretty in Pink” and supporting your dad, who didn’t want to work. Thanks Judge Reinhold for working a Fast Food Job in “Fast Times at Ridgemont High” and showing me that a job is a job even if it means wearing a stupid outfit. And, thank you Patrick Dempsey. Thank you for delivering pizza in a goofy mustache in “Lover Boy”, and for mowing 286 lawns in order to get the girl and the telescope, and for teaching me that money can’t buy me love.