Rich People: They Have Big Mouths too (as well as Wallets)
Poverty and Prejudice…
For generations, in my family there has existed a long line of poverty. Both my father and mother grew up in broken homes and had very little in the way of possessions. My mother’s father was a gambler and blew most of his money on the horse races - so did his father. Her parents argued constantly and she is still tormented by the memories of them shouting at each other, and going twelve rounds with a handbag downstairs while she was trying to sleep. In fact for years she blocked out those arguments, and still quivers every time she hears shouting.
My dad grew up in squalor on the back roads outside of the city, in a bungalow. Even the houses that they’ve been in together haven’t been all that nice. In fact, my dad was so desperate to get rid of the first house they owned together that when someone made an offer for it while walking past it one day, he sold it right then and there.
Apparently he made an offer, and my dad jokingly said that if he paid him a few thousand, he would take it. The man called his bluff and actually agreed to it. By the time my mom got home, the place had been sold and they had to move out.
Imagine the scenario:
“Hey honey, I sold the house. We have to go.”
You go out for tea and a haircut, and by the time you get back, you’re homeless.
The worst thing is that they moved into an even worse house than the last one, and they even had to take out a loan to afford it. My dad claims that the reason he sold the house was to be nearer the place where he worked. And as life would have it, to kick you in the 'nads when you’re down, the business moved near the place where they had lived before.
Anyway, more on these rich people I was getting to. I want to talk about some of the things I've had to put up with concerning rich people and especially how they look at the poor and the houses they live in.
When a rich person rocks up at a poor person’s house, the first thing they do is look around the place, usually with a look of discontent on their face. They look at the dirty floors, the cracked walls and then even the ceiling. Every bit of the place is scrutinized. I even met some guy who came around to my house once, and he was so ashamed that he tried to sell it for me! No, really.
We talked, and he got right to it, “You know, you could get a few hundred thousand for this place; large piece of land; swimming pool.”
He commented that my house looked old. That was an understatement, as I assumed he was going to faint when he was doing a sweep earlier.
Once, another friend came around to my house, and because I had been made so self-conscious by other previous visitors, I explained that the roof over the kitchen was in need of repair.
His only reply was, “Don’t worry, I’ve seen worse.”
I’d started trying to reassure people and I was even making up stories to cover for my family’s lack of luck in life. I always felt as though I had to be so humble the whole time I had friends and they came round. And of course, they would try to mask their true feelings when they talked to me, but behind my back it was a different story. I wasn’t the only person who was nervous about having anyone over. My mom was so ashamed of the place that when it was her turn to host the ladies’ small group, she did almost anything to get out of it. I’m surprised she didn’t make them wear blindfolds.
I once rocked up at the doorstep of my first girlfriend's house when I was very young, wearing the same outfit as the day before and carrying my old moth-eaten tog-bag, and her father opened the door and mumbled, “Oh, it’s you again.”
"When it’s their turn to show you their house, you get the full tour with a running commentary. I’m surprised they don’t give you a brochure and charge you for it too."
If you are poor and happen to go to a rich person’s house, they tend to be so protective all the time. You can’t touch anything, you can’t brush the walls, and if you try to scope out their place, they tend to think you’re planning a burglary. And of course, while they were round at your place, you do whatever you could to stop them going into certain rooms, even if it means putting a yellow ‘do not cross' line used by the police across the doorway; but when it’s their turn to show you their house, you get the full tour with a running commentary. I’m surprised they don’t give you a brochure and charge you for it too.
One thing with rich folks is that they assume that everyone is rich just like them. They hang around with rich people, they deal with rich people; to them, people who ‘live within their means’ don’t exist in their world.
I once had a neighbour who patronizingly suggested one day at school, in front of all my friends and classmates, that his parents would pay to have my house fumigated. No, really. It wasn’t enough that he tactlessly insinuated that I had some sort of rodent infestation, but he also made public my family’s below adequate status; all in front of the whole gang. I had to explain that it wasn’t my problem. It was the other neighbour who happened to leave his overflowing bins right next to our hedge, which made it seem as though the rats were coming from my place, but they actually weren’t.
“Oh, okay. But if you want, my parents will pay to have your house fumigated.”
Back to square one with this idiot.
At school, a rich kid once asked me what sort of car my dad drove, and I replied that it was an Uno. After that he said, “Yeah, but surely you’ve got another car, like a Ferrari or something.”
His jaw fell open as he turned back to the front. We never spoke again, at least not as equals. Everyone assumed that just because I got money for the tuck shop every day that I was rolling in money. At the school I went, if you weren’t rich, you weren’t popular. Why the hell I stayed there for so long, I’ll never know. The girls only chased the guys with rich parents. This was obvious, because they even said out loud that they would marry them and then divorce them for their money. Money is an aphrodisiac. Even poor girls weren’t noticed.
The thing with poor people is that they don’t say much. They are usually quiet, humble and well-mannered, because they have nothing to brag about. Rich people on the other hand are loud, boisterous, arrogant and very rude. They like to show off their money and their possessions.
I once tried to buy a pair of rollerblades from a rich kid when I was young. We haggled, and of course, once again, it was in front of all his friends. When I talked to him on the phone later, he said, “Hey, bro, look I’m sorry that I can’t make the price any lower, but you know... my friends were right there.”
There’s always a reputation to uphold among their fellow rich folk. Then when I went to pick up the rollerblades from a parking lot near his house, with his mom sitting in her big green landrover, she said, “They’re expensive, hey?”
How very condescending. I got revenge later on when I sold them to a very enthusiastic buyer for more than I bought them.
I reckon, from my experience, that because rich and poor people have very different lifestyles, and expectations out of life, that it’s a complete culture shock to shift from one to the other. It’s more often the privileged people who were born with silver spoons in their mouths that are more likely to want to have nothing to do with anyone lower in class than them, but of course you do get even the middle class that dislike the lower class, and try to suck up to the upper crust, like in Keeping Up Appearances, a famous British sitcom. Maybe, just maybe you’ll come across someone who’s successful, who started out with nothing and so they can relate more to the poor types than their rich peers.
But that’s like a needle in a haystack; once you’re rich and successful, it’s like being assimilated by the Borg: “Resistance is Futile”.
At least the recession has evened things up a little; it brought some of them down to our level. To them I say: "Welcome to hell."
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"Who is rich? He that is content. Who is that? Nobody."— Benjamin Franklin
© 2009 Anti-Valentine
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