I find it humorous that this recession has created a new breed of people, a new socioeconomic crowd. One that looks pretty well-off, but is really struggling. A business woman on her way to the soup kitchen, or something.
I have yet to think of a name for this class, but I can tell you that I realized I was one of them today. I was at the farmer's market in the ferry building in San Francisco and had just bought myself a $16 raw vegan lunch of lasagna, nut/seed crackers and butternut squash hummus. Well, it was actually only $14, because as I was paying I realized that was all the cash I had left.
The raw vegan lady gave me my food anyway, but this made me remember a few things... like for instance, that I'd checked my bank account the other day and realized there was only $50 in it, all of which I had spent in the last two days. I remembered seeing this and initially being intelligent and cooking dinner with employees at the hostel I was staying at so that I could eat for free, making me feel both productive and smugly creative.
But the next night, when I met up with my aunt and took her to a flamenco show where I knew the guitarist (free), and then had a glass of Catalonian cava while chatting with a kind older gentleman guitarist (so, free again), I began to forget about my cheap side and indulged in my sophisticated airs. Therefore, the $14 raw vegan mistake.
After eating my lunch, I realized I still needed $1.50 to catch the bus to Caffe Trieste, where I was meeting someone for a new-friend date. I put my purse and laptop on the ground as I searched for bus fare. 50 cents. 75 cents. 77, 78... come on. Yes! Another quarter, $1.03. I continued digging as people grumbled at my crouched form on the ground in the way of their local organic cheese shopping. I came up with $1.48. I kid you not.
And so today I found myself walking a mile uphill in one of those annoyingly light rains – where the tiny drops flick at your eyelids but they refuse to actually come down, teasing you as to whether or not it will actually start pouring in five seconds – lugging a $1,300 Macbook and carrying an iPhone I paid $400 for, and a $200 check that I cannot deposit into my Colorado bank account from here, and therefore is a useless piece of paper with a pretty number on it.
I realized that this economic downward spiral has created a new class of people that are sort of between classes, and sitting there stuck, wondering when they will climb back up or slide on downward. It consists of people who were previously living fairly well, and who now cannot find two cents for the bus. Suits with briefcases still giving high-brow glances while stiffing the bartender his dollar tip, because they really do need it.
Has anyone else noticed this phenomenon? I'd be curious. And if you've got a name for this crowd... let me know. In the meantime, I'll be hiking up Lombard.