Friday, December 5, 2008


While a substantial number of Americans are struggling to get by during the current recession, sometimes you see something that can only make you realize that there are significant numbers of people that either just don’t get it or are having absolutely no financial problems.

This week I noticed the following poll question on the Women on the Web site: “We know that times are tough, but what will you still treat yourself to?” I scrolled down to read the choices and found they were: having your roots colored, wine, dry cleaning, dinner out, the cleaning lady, and other.


No one at our house has had anything colored and we have a few bottles of wine that we received as presents. I can’t remember the last time we had dry cleaning done as we deliberately don’t buy “dry clean only” clothing. We did go out for dinner in October to celebrate our anniversary and we go to the Chinese buffet about once every 4 to 6 weeks. We also get a pizza about once every two months. We have never had anyone else clean our house besides us, which you would know if you saw our dust-bunnies.

I thought the poll’s “other” choice, which invites comments, would stir up some realistic observations or indignant remarks. Instead I found readers giving up [or refusing to give up] their masseuse, gardener, CDs, and concert tickets. They are cutting back from dinner out three times a week to one and stretching out the time between manicures.

Several respondents agreed that they would absolutely not give up the special coffee beans they buy and grind for their morning cup of coffee.

Again, at our house, no masseuse, gardener, or manicures. We attend free concerts and the last CDs we bought were some second-hand Christmas ones about a year ago at a church flea market. Our morning coffee is whatever is on sale or has a good coupon at ShopRite.

Obviously I was on the wrong website [for more reasons than one], but it did make me think: Is America not in as bad a shape as we’ve been led to believe or is their a large number of Americans who are in denial about the economy?

Or, maybe the people who visit the WOW website are all related to the heads of such corporations as Ford, GM, AIG, Halliburton, Enron, and the oil companies…


Kay Dennison said...

As long as I have my part-time job, I can afford a few things. I had been saving to buy myself a mini-laptop for Christmas (the only gift I get is what I buy myself) and then my little red car had a $450 problem. No laptop. It's okay. Ten years ago, I was in a LOT worse shape.

Val said...

I think it's difficult to judge other people by your own standards. There may be things you just don't know, therefore you cannot take them into consideration when making a judgement. For instance, I live in a pretty large house (as you know) and I have some very serious problems with my back (which hopefully, you don't know). I keep myself functioning by taking meds, doing certain exersizes, and making sure to be careful about what I do and do not do. One thing I cannot do without hurting myself pretty badly is housecleaning. Having a housekeeper keeps my large, overcluttered house in a state which I can stomach living in. Until we absolutely cannot afford it, that's worth it for us. But we don't generally do other things. No one can really know how it feels to walk in another's shoes.

Val said...

Oh - and I also am choosy about my coffee - won't part with the good stuff. But then again, I haven't redone anything inside my house - same kitchen, bathrooms, carpeting, etc. that I moved in on 15 years ago. We all make our own choices, and I don't think it's fair for one person to judge another.

A neighbor comes to mind - she used to knock me for going out to dinner, or having more than one pair of silver earring. But she had no problem changing her perfectly fine Maurice Valencia couches out for new ones (these cost well over $5000 each, back 10 years ago, that is) and had all her custom-made window treatments redone (another $10,000) In her judgement, this made sense. I got my lace-look curtains from Walmart, for about $5 each, or my blinds from Home Depot (also inexpensive) and they don't look bad to me. Different strokes for different folks.

Another example of a different nature: a friend was an extreme health-nut type - ultra macro-biotic - never let her baby have milk, forumla or anything - only apple juice. No flouride for her daughter - poor kid ended up with a mouth full of cavaties. Chicken was out because you were sure to get cancer from it. As were most forms of protein. I'm only scratching the surface here, but her daughter never grew to normal height.

One afternoon, after she got finished telling me how much better her childrearing methods were than mine, she proceeded to put her tiny 1 1/2 year old in the front seat of her very old car, without a car seat, not sure about seat belts - and tore out of my driveway to head home! Now, the little kid had a far greater chance of smashing through the windshield than dying of chicken consumption, but my friend still felt she was the "superior" parent. I wrote off anything she had to say from that time forward - different strokes for different folks.

Hope you get my gist.