I now have one of two earned income reports and the other is available online for me to peruse at my leisure… and a funny thought struck me looking at all those different numbers.
I can’t believe how poor I am.
Don’t get me wrong. We’re not talking about sending my son to an Ivy League school. Honestly, not even a state school. But how is it that the numbers I’m looking at on these (what should we call them, “pre-tax”) forms and the numbers I look at on my monthly balance sheets (again, truthfully said, “screens” would be more appropriate) are so out of proportion?
Truth be told, I hit a food cart for $6 big ones about once a week.
Gross expenditures at the apparel stores near which I work in such intimate proximity? With any luck, someone reading this knows me and will let you know exactly how out of fashion my fashion dresses.
Self-help books or, more generally, self-improvement costs of any kind? I have a couple’s therapy guide purchased after the end of my last relationship in the last year. And I bought some bike parts to keep the gears aturning…
So where is it going for me and the whole “99 percent” brigade?
I did take some time off this year. In total, between scheduled vacation and two sick days I think I missed seven days of work in the last year. I also left work early by an hour one day to meet my son at the hospital and I think I might have left half an hour early back in July because I was bored and it was a beautiful day to do something exciting… not that I did anything exciting, but at least I could open myself up to the opportunity.
Looking at the numbers, I have to say almost every cent I earned this last year, barring a small percentage for personal indulgence, went to the upkeep of me or my progeny. Half, if not more than half, of my income every month goes, directly and indirectly, to the care and maintenance of my son. Then there are student loans, for which I am undeniably grateful and perpetually (?) indebted.
Added to that are the multiple credit cards I was forced to use when the state in which I was attending university (I won’t name names, but it’s initials are C and A) kept upping the cost of attendance to students to cut property owners a break… after the federal financial assistance folks had already done their math to allot the appropriate funds to attend university in (un)said state. The difference went to ye olde creditors who don’t still want me to hold their card without an exorbitant annual fee, but are happy to collect my payments each month.
The rest you can put down to food, insurance, sundries and, if addictions are your thing, coffee and a couple packs of cigarettes in the last year. Beyond that, every cent went to upkeep and/or raising of a small boy who graduated from infancy in the last year and wobbled into toddlerhood with a mischievous grin and an eye set on the first broken limb. This is how expenditures go.
Ironically, in the last several months of this year, Two Thousand and Ten, of which I am speaking and for which I am paying, a lot of people got out on the streets for a moment and suggested with varying degrees of enthusiasm, mischief and decibels, that something about this system was wrong. I am not inclined to disagree.
But I am desperate. And that kid is destined to break at least one bone before he reaches five (his favorite stunt is STANDING on the seat of the push scooter he got for his first birthday and pushing himself along with a huge grin on his face). So I will keep at it. Working for THE man and slogging away. I will probably vote for the ever-so-slightly more liberal candidate. I will probably voice my concerns to a bunch of other lower-income-tax-bracket people who don’t really mean much in the grand scheme, and the game will go on as it has for… years?… decades?… ever? Long enough to know a bunch of hippies planting a garden in a public park in November probably won’t harvest much.
So here’s to the rest of the 99% out there. Quit buying crap. Don’t waste your money on frivolous entertainment. Read books, gain knowledge, and accept that none of it is worth anything if you don’t figure out how to form close bonds with other humans and feel the intimacy of true love and trust in at least one (if you’re lucky five) other human(s). If you can’t do that, go get drunk on a credit card you’ll later never pay off, eat the delicious swill-soaked sodium we call food and consume to your heart’s (enlarged, pulsating) content. A drain on the system is as good a way of defying THE man as mucking up the grass in a downtown park.
In the meantime, try to be kind to five people in one day and see what happens.
Even if it’s nothing, it’s something.
And it would be nice to count on one thing more than death and taxes.