I had lunch in a café the other day. I won't mention the name of the café or its location, but the food is delicious therean Aunt Jemima look alike does the cooking, and the waitress is 40ish, divorced and good-looking. I hadn't seen the waitress for several months. I said, "How've you been doing?"
"Not good," she answered. "Started working two jobs. Seven days a week."
"Damn," I said. "That gets old fast, and it'll get you old fast. Why are you doing that?"
She gave me an are-you-crazy look. "With two teenagers? You know why."
"Yes, I do," I told her. "You're working two jobs to keep your teenagers in $100 tennis shoes."
Am I the only person who sees something wrong with that picture? Where were her teenagers? Home with grandma, probably, but maybe not. Maybe they were in the garage making something with chemicals. Maybe smoking dope. Maybe hanging with a couple of religious fanatics.
Therein lies the root of the youthful alienation problem in America. It's our competition for things. We get a $200 monthly increase in salary and do we use that increase to cut out overtime so we can spend more time with our families? No indeed. We usually buy a larger or more expensive car. We trade a $300 monthly car note for a $500 monthly car note. In a few paydays we're back begging the boss for more overtime or a promotion to an even more time consuming job.
If we don't buy a bigger and better car with our increased income, we move to a bigger and better apartment or buy a house in a better neighborhood. What's a "better neighborhood"? It's a place where the people have the same amount of things you have or the amount of things you desire. God help everyone in that neighborhood if one resident gets an increase in salary.
A fellow cultural anthropologist told me about a rural area he studied. The area had no electricity. In hopes of electricity coming, one of the residents purchased a washing machine. He sat it on his front porch. In just a few months every front porch in the area sported a newand uselesswashing machine.
Wake up America. If you would quit buying useless washing machines you could spend more time with your children.