I wonder how many people are floating along with the help of some friend (or family member) who has the unenviable task of keeping multiple people afloat, ten-fifty bucks at a time. And I can’t help but wonder what happens when these people find themselves refusing to help these (often long-time) friends.
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Here’s the issue: There’s only so much that one can do to help out, depending on whom you are and where your friends are at.
You see, we tend to pick our friends not so much where we’re at, but where we see ourselves at. And (believe it or not) our friends tend not only to be very much like us in many way, but also financially like us.
Indeed, there are many pressures that end up pushing people of various financial levels away from each other. and much of it is money-based. Think of it: a lot of whom you know is based on how closely what they earn is to what you earn.
Those earnings pretty much dictate how you experience your life. You either dine with friends, or you bolt-and-go at a McDonald’s (ever notice how lonely the fast-food places appear, even in college towns?). You sip on some Microbrew/a fine wine you found out about at a Friday night tasting, or you chug down some Busch/MD 20/20. You buy groceries at Whole Foods, Krogers, or the corner store with everything made by Pepsi/Lays lovingly displayed. Macy’s or Wal-Mart. Some used car, or a Lexus. Vacation overseas, or count the visit to your parents as the vacation.
And if you’re poorer than the surrounding people, it will isolate you from them. And if you’re richer than the surrounding people, you’ll be fawned over to the point where you’ll end up running to a richer group with similar expectations (or stick around long enough to fawn it over others).
And while I know we like to think of America as a classless society, we’re very much aware of class. It’s just in one direction: downward. We’ll gladly piss on those we see as lower than us (or not deserving of their apparently higher station), but we like to think those above us think of us as swell and “one of them.” And because of this, the rich are able to turn the lower classes against each other by stating that there are people “above us” who should be lower than us. (Never, of course, the deserving rich…which means, of course, the ownership classes and those who run corporations (into the ground).)
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So what happens when certain friends or family members suddenly drop below what we’ve long considered their economic station, and start asking us to keep them afloat?
Well, here’s a thought: We support them for a while, then they become a drag because their needs start impinging on the way that the supporters meet THEIR needs. If we have savings we add to, the needy friend starts draining the savings (or at least your addition to your savings). If we like our vacations, we suddenly find ourselves threatened with shrinking down our trips for this friend. Or it’s the difference between a steak dinner and hamburger. Sometimes it’s just the subject matter that gets in the way. Or the fact that your “castle” (home) has suddenly taken on an alien presence (homelessness happens, and much more than people will admit in America).
No matter how it happens, suddenly the friend becomes more of a drain than we come to view that they’re worth.
So we kick them out.
Sometimes they find another friend to land at, and recover. Sometimes they find another friend, whom they burn out. And sometimes they disappear into the rescue shelters and streets. Those folks we consign to memory holes, only to remember them with a “but they were so smart/driven/dedicated, what happened to make them slothful?”
And meanwhile another person starts begging for quarters, or stands by an exit with a sign stating “Will Work For Food.” Not that anyone will want such a person to work; the one thing people tend to forget is that once someone’s unemployed for a few months it becomes harder to find a decent job (or sometimes ANY job); the idea of massive industries always ready to hire anyone willing to show up has long entered the realm of mythology in America.
And time goes on, the man gets forgotten (or criminalized) and life goes on elsewhere. A few people are one friend poorer, but they soon stop noticing that lack as the person’s either replaced by a “honorable person (read: job slave)” or get used to the gap in the memory.
And life goes on.