To quote someone, “I’ve been poor and I’ve been rich. Rich is better.”
I know what it is like to count pennies for food and still not have enough. I know about having to turn off your electricity because you can’t afford the bills. I know about being hungry.
I don’t know about starvation. I don’t know about food stamps. I don’t know about other aid programs. We didn’t do any of those.
What does it mean to be middle class?
It means you have enough money to buy a house and have your utilities on. Maybe not on as warmly or coolly as you like, but on. It means you have enough money to buy food. Whatever kind of food you want. Organic. Junk. Fresh food. Frozen food. Canned food. It means owning a car that you can drive. Getting it fixed when it breaks, even if it means you’re a little tight on something else. It means working because you need the money to pay for your house, your utilities, your food, your car, your bills.
It doesn’t mean doing whatever you want when you want. It doesn’t mean having freetime and freedom to do what you will. It doesn’t mean a fascinating job that you love and freedom to do that job. It doesn’t always mean freedom to do the job you have, at least not the way you want to do it.
It doesn’t mean you’re going to be able to quit working. It doesn’t mean you’ll get to tour the world. It doesn’t mean you’ll have the nicest house, the nicest car, the most fabulous clothes. It doesn’t mean you’ll get to take vacations every year. Sure you’ll have time off, but you’ll probably spend it visiting relatives.
Being middle class means having enough money to support the American Dream. But not enough money to have the American Dream without working.
Being middle class means having some money in the bank. But not enough to pay for a major problem if it occurs.
Being middle class means having clothes, but maybe buying them from Walmart because they’re cheaper there.
Being middle class means sleeping in a neighborhood where you’re not terrified someone is going to break in or do a drive by shooting.
Being middle class means having something worth stealing but knowing that if it’s stolen, you can still live without it.
Being middle class means knowing where your kids are and being grateful for the knowledge.
Being middle class means having things to do and places to go. And doing them and going there.
Being middle class means you are richer than most of the rest of the world, but you don’t feel it because you know other people who are better off than you are. (Of course, you know people who are worse off, too, but who wants to compare yourself to them?)
Being middle class means you have more and less. More money, less time. Or more time, less money. Or maybe less time, less money, but more than you expected to have. Or more than your parents had. Or more than your parents had at your age.
Being middle class means knowing when you’re sick because you have money and/or insurance to go see the doctor when it looks like something is wrong.
Being middle class means knowing you can’t afford all the stuff you want and making choices.
Rant over. Got to go do something I agreed to do to help the community.
Being middle class means I have something I can give back. And it’s me.