Recently I linked to Laura Rowley’s excellent column, “Why the rich don’t feel rich,” in which she wrote about University of Chicago law professor Todd Henderson’s struggle to survive on a combined family income of more than $250,000. The column was a stark contrast to something that happened while I was in New Jersey last month.
I frequently stopped by to see my Aunt Dot, who’s 87 and very frail due to several medical issues. She and her son live on Social Security and disability plus her small pension. One evening I discovered that they had exactly one dollar in the house. Her check was due the next day and she planned to walk to the bank to cash it.
The bank is at least a mile from where Dot lives. And did I mention that she’s on oxygen?
If she’d had $2 more she could have taken a cab. But she didn’t have it.
This is the face of ‘broke’
Some days it’s all Dot can do to move from the couch to the kitchen, or from the couch to the toilet chair now permanently ensconced in the living room. (Bathroom’s upstairs.) Yet she was going to walk a mile, with her 69-year-old son carrying the oxygen tank, to cash her check.
Every time I get paid, I send Dot some money. In fact, I’d just given it to her the week before — but it had gone for doctor co-pays. When I heard about the lack of cab fare, I gently insisted on giving her some extra funds.
At first she refused, saying it had already cost me too much to fly to Jersey. I kept insisting, gently. Finally she took the four $1 bills I had in my wallet, still fretting that I would “run short.”
Which brings me to Todd Henderson and all the other complainers out there.
Whiners: Stop whining
If I hear one more person grousing about being “broke” while drinking a latte and sending and receiving texts, I may pour the coffee over that person’s head.
When you’re sick as a dog and have just $1 in the house….well, go ahead and complain. Aunt Dot didn’t, by the way. She just shrugged and said, “I’m usually not that broke.”
So all you folks who are hale and hearty and careless with your funds: Please be quiet.
Please stop bitching about how “poor” you are before payday…while eating nachos and drinking beer at a sports bar.
Please stop whining about how you couldn’t afford a “real” vacation. This presupposes that you have a job to get a vacation from – do you know how many people would kill to have a job, any job at all, let alone be paid to take a week off from it?
Please don’t sign up for satellite television even as you are robbing Peter to pay Paul each month.
Please don’t e-mail me tales of financial woe that end with the postscript, “Sent from my iPhone.”
(These are all real-life examples, by the way.)
None of you people are broke. You are simply not using your money wisely.
And you need to find another way to live before you end up on oxygen with a single greenback to your name. Then you’ll know what “broke” really feels like.