Curse of the Middle Class
This is what "middle-class" looks like in San Francisco: I just finished lunch -- a frozen (vegetarian) corn dog, popcorn and a Coke. It is 63 degrees in our house. I am debating whether to go put air in the tires of our 1998 Subaru Outback, with its 105,000 miles and persistent fan belt rattle, or to stay here, look for potential homes for my inactive clients, and listen to my favorite baseball team, the Seattle Mariners, get trounced by the local Oakland A's.
I am sitting in a house almost entirely devoid of fruit. Earlier I went to my usual go-to fruit source, the blue bowl, only to find one sad, lonely lemon inside. I am not the type to just eat a lemon. I left it alone. No pretzels, either. Not even the Jawa's sub-par tiny twists, useful only when we have run out of my superior honey wheat stick things. Fortunately, we had convenient, 100 calorie single packs of popcorn on hand. Please hold the transfat.
Most of you know that Sandra Bullock is very successful. She has been in her industry since 3 weeks after college graduation and has traveled a steady path of promotion since then. Her latest promotion made her a Director at her company. And yet she drives our paint-peeling, fan belt-rattling, 100,000+ miles-having Subaru to work each day. "The BMW guy who parks next to me noticed that my tire was low," she said to me last night, so she left the Subaru home for me today.
National polls and various statistics that I will refer to but not back up in any meaningful way will try to convince you that we are wealthy. According to this web site, Sandra Bullock's salary puts her among the top earners in the country. And yet, if I were to go out right now and buy a $15.99 CD, there would be real trouble when I got home and revealed my contraband purchase to the rest of my family.
Sandra Bullock and I both usually wear clothes that are several years old, except for the ones we get twice a year when Ken Dunque slips us the passes to the GAP friends and family sale. "This t-shirt is older than the Jawa," she will sometimes point out. When she does this, I assume and hope, she is not drawing attention to my lack of earning capability. Instead, she is ironically noting that, in most of the country, regardless of what pennies I can manage to earn, her success alone would translate into a comfortable lifestyle. Perhaps we would live in a sprawling, 3,000 square foot home, drive not one but two autos with less than 100,000 miles on them. Our child would attend a comfortable, non-scary public school and we would take vacations when we chose. People would find it refreshing to see a family where to mother made the money and the father was the "primary care giver."
Meanwhile, back in Glen Park, the wind whips through our aged aluminum frame windows. We San Franciscans make these sacrifices to live in our progressive, liveable, open-minded city. It is, after all, an "E" ticket ride. We can't imagine living anywhere else. Most of us, anyway.