Have You Got Class?


Growing up in an Anti-Oprah household, I have been testing the Oprah show line for the past few days (I haven’t been at work). I must say that today’s episode is quite fabulous! The Tabboo Topic: What Social Class Are You Now?

Several people’s lives are examined (super rich coming down the the real world). The story of the t.v. anchor (Ernie Bjorkman) was interesting. He and his wife went from top of the world with $$$ down to a Veternary Tech’s salary ofabout $30,000 (and, obviously, the $$ from dear, sweet Oprah.) The wife bounced checks, he now has to work a normal schedule, they had to move, no more new clothes, fancy vacations, or extravagant friends. They hit rock bottom with little savings and credit cards stacked through the sky. I felt sorry for them. IT must be rough having the world as you know it, come to an end. But HOW ON EARTH do you go IN DEBT when you are making half a million a year. Seriously, how is that possible? Really, a house payment is all that you should have. But no, they had their credit cards maxed out and they had to borrow money from friends to pay their car payment. Now that he is making $30,000 a year, they are talking about the changes that they have had to make and how hard it is. Hmm. That made me frustrated. Being a married young adult who makes just a little bit more than that, I know how hard it is. But it is REALLY not impossible. Bills are always most important, then plop a little in savings, and have fun with the rest. Living this “Lower Middle Class” is certainly not impossible.

Oprah then interviewed another couple who owned a couple businesses (two spas and a real estate business) that ended up crashing. They were left penniless, friendless, and in the lady’s words, “classlowered.” My heart went out to them because they had built their own fortune. Of course, I don’t really pity people that don’t save money or people that spend recklessly. But I did have more compassion for them because they were self-made millionaires.

There was also the heir to the family fortune of Johnson & Johnson who was basically bemoaning the fact that his friends don’t play as hard because they are being more cautious with their money. I just don’t even know what to do with that.

So I’m just sittin’ on our lovely sectional thinking of how these different stories apply to me in minor ways. Then a girl who looked my age popped on the tube. She graduated from Purdue  last May with a regular ol’ Bachelor’s degree. She has applied to everywhere under the sun (sound familiar?!) and can’t find any full time work (hmmm.) She is bummed because she was assured that she would find a job pretty easily because she did everything right (Helllooo! I am a licensed stinkin’ teacher!) She was a good student, active in school life, came out of school with little/no personal debt, and had been part of student professional organizations (extremely parallel to someone you may know?!) After reciting her woes,  the job market specialist told her to not lose hope because she will, hopefully within the year, be more hirable so she should not lose hope. NOT MUCH HELP, SIR. REALLY NOT MUCH HELP.

All that I have to say is that I am quite thankful for Adam. It has definitely been quite a shift moving from my parent’s home to our home. I was raised in a household where bill due dates didn’t affect the kind of groceries that went into the kitchen that week.

There have been quite a few bumps for both of us as we were unemployed for three months after the wedding, and me unemployed for four and a half. We had to spend all our savings and wedding money on rent/utilities/food during that time, but thank heaven we had it to live on. Mom took me to the dr’s office once (we didn’t have the cash or the health insurance), but that was it.

What Adam and I have learned is that budgets are not flexible, they must be rigid. We have to decide what is most important to us (eating steak/eating out or being able to travel on the weekends for one). Let me tell you HOW proud of Adam I really am. He sold his black, shiny, beautiful, 2007 2.0 turbo Volkswagen GTI for a white, chipping paint, two door 1992 Volkswagen GTI. In the trade, he got to hand over his complete car loan, gain the old GTI, and cash to pay of his credit card debt. So now we have about $450 extra each month!! That money actually just goes into the savings account to be dumped into his mouth in September :/

I am also grateful that we didn’t have any t.v. channels for the first six months of our newly married life. I realize how shallow that sounds, but it really made a difference! We talked, played lots of cards, took long walks in the evening and sat out on our porch a lot more than we would have.

I guess what I am trying to say is that people need to stop feeling sorry for themselves. I feel like this recession is kind of evening the playing ground for most of us. We are all at ground zero working our way back up. The idealist part of me is hoping that people may be humbled and change their outlook instead of becoming bitter. It is super easy to become bitter. Just today, Adam and I were driving past my IDEAL elementary school and I read the sign. “Westwood Hills wants to welcome their NEW TEACHERS onboard for a fun school year.” A growl rumbled in my throat as I glared out of my car window. Adam then informed me that I was also making funny sounds. It is easy to be bitter. Unfortunately that bitterness isn’t helping anything or anyone. My back just gets tight and my face breaks out. SO, until I get a teaching job, I am just going to have fun. Apply for both serious and fun jobs and enjoy my life in the present.

One thing in the present for me is starting to actually watch the local news. SO MANY exciting things!!

1. Waynesboro may be getting it’s own movie theater! We usually have to go to Staunton ( a not so horrible 20 minutes away), but now we may not have to go so far! Also, the same movie theater in Staunton is the one that may open one here so we know we will like it!! Yippee!

2. Traffic cameras are going up in Charlottesville at the major intersections. They are MUCH needed and I am super excited!!

OK. I guess that’s a short list. But it is better than nothing!

Also, I am H U G E fan of abc’s 20/20. Everyone should really check out the most recent one on OCD. Very interesting!


2 thoughts on “Have You Got Class?

  1. Great post my child. What exactly is class? Let me suggest a few things: moving through difficult circumstances with determination, grace and being hopeful that change is on its way; being responsible with what you have and making the right decisions, even if they are the hard ones; being mindful to avoid bitterness that is so entrapping; and continuing to love and be loved.
    You’re a classy gal Kathryn….and Adam and you partner well in this!

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