Someone Broke into my Car

Last night, as I got in my car to head to work, I turned on my stereo to discover that, instead of the David Bowie playlist I created on my iPod, the radio was playing instead. I looked down to discover that my iPod (and the cord, and my headphones) was missing. This is the 3rd time in a matter of months that my iPod has been stolen out of my car.

Daytona

The 89 Daytona I used to drive. Before it went to crap. There was no opening these doors.

I suppose that it’s my fault for leaving it in the car in the first place. It also doesn’t help that I occasionally forget to lock my car. The beater I drive for 8 years was impossibly hard to open so I never needed to before upgrading. I’ve been trying to be better about that since break in #2. Also, I was parked in a different spot this time, so, I suspect it may even be the same person.

On the one hand, I am kind of irritated because I didn’t exactly have another iPod in my budget. On the other hand, I know that there are much bigger issues and that, whomever took it, probably had their reasons. Maybe they wanted one and couldn’t afford one. Maybe they needed the money that could be made from selling it. Accepting that rationale, I make peace with it. Because I realize that, at this point in my life, I have the fortune to not have very many unmet needs and could just buy another if I choose to (don’t get me wrong – I’m not rich. There isn’t a lot left over for wants, but needs are certainly met). I was similarly un-phased when someone stole my bike some years ago when I still worked at a thrift store and used that bike as a primary mode of transportation. I just figured someone else must have needed it worse than I did.

We live in this society that places so much value on material objects. These objects, like clothing, carry meaning and send messages to others around us – our interests, our values, our status within society. We are repeatedly told that having these things will bring us happiness, and, for a very short, fleeting time, they do. We are told that we need these things – being able to at least look the part we want to play can go a way toward making us feel it and to making others around us to treat us that way. Have you never heard the phrase, “The clothes make the man”? Well, so do accessories and gadgets. I don’t blame anyone for using objects to try to belong to something, even superficially. Belonging is a human need. It also just so happens that our society does not give everyone the same opportunities to seek these things out in the legal or socially accepted ways.

So, in conclusion, at the end of the day, it’s all just stuff. But after I buy the next iPod I’m going to start bringing it inside with me.

Advertisements

Reflections on Socio-Economic Status

Scrolling through Facebook this afternoon, I came across the following Slate article: When You’re Poor, Life’s Little Annoyances Actually Ruin Your Life. Reading this, I find myself reflecting on my own life – my background, my life choices, privileges I’ve been afforded, and how easily my life could have been very different.

equality-and-equity

Socio-Economic Status, or SES, is basically an individual’s or family’s economic and social position in relation to others, based on income, education, and occupation. And this is relative. As a nation, the United States is fairly well-off. As well, our perceptions of where we fit along that spectrum will vary based on where we are compared to those around us. This accounts for why sometimes people who seem to have a much higher SES can still feel they have less if they are surrounded by others who have even more. This is why there are Americans who complain about, say, not having a tech gadget while there are many other people (including fellow Americans) that are starving. Chances are the guy upset about his tablet doesn’t have as much interaction with the guy that can’t afford to keep his utilities on.

There is a running joke between my boyfriend any I that anything over $30 is a major purchase. This is because we come from different SE backgrounds. I grew up in a series of trailer homes and other rentals, moving around frequently. My parents divorced when I was young, so I was raised by my single mother and her parents. I went to public school and was taught to stretch money out by repairing, recycling, or doing without. On the other hand, my boyfriend’s parents remained together, they owned their own home, and he was able to attend a private high school. He doesn’t do much in the way of repairing or recycling. As a result, the ways in which we view and spend money tend to be different.

On the other hand, my own adult life is so different from that of my parents that I run into the same thing from the other side. When my mother was my age, she had 2 children (I was 9, my brother was 5), was separated and on the verge of divorce, driving some beat up vehicle, and working whatever job she could just to make ends meet. While she had some college, she had never graduated. My life went in a different direction. I have my BA, I’m fortunate enough to be working a job I like, have never married or had children, and have the income and credit that allowed me a buy a new car with all the warranties and a maintenance package.

I’m not really sure if there’s a point to be made with any of this, but, this is what is going through my head at the moment. I’m thankful to be in a position where I have (so far) successfully done better than my parents (which, I am led to believe, is every parent’s hope for their kids) while not taking that for granted. I’m cognizant of the fact that, while I have worked and continue to work hard, there is no such thing as “self-made”. I grew up in a home environment that valued reading and education, I had adults that were able to help me with my homework, I had access to resources via the local libraries and schools that were paid for with tax dollars, I was eligible for need-based financial aid to go to college, and there are plenty of privileges I’ve had and things I haven’t had to worry about because I’m white, cis-gendered, heterosexual, and happened to have been born in a time and place where women had relatively more rights and freedoms.