If you read my previous blog post about the Beginning Of The Ruining Of The Pit Gym In Dickinson, North Dakota, you will know why I am on this subject.
Nothing is so frustrating as people not knowing and not understanding, I will give a few brief stories to illustrate.
In 2005, the average home price in Flagstaff, Arizona was about $390,000, while at the same time, the average hourly pay rate in Flagstaff was about $11.00 per hour. The local residents in Flagstaff could not afford to buy a home.
With great cooperation between a land owner, a general contractor, subcontractors, suppliers, and the City of Flagstaff, this team set about to build some inexpensive affordable housing for the local residents in Flagstaff. About ten town homes were completed about one year later.
This team proudly had an open house at the completion of the ten town homes. One couple from California who were visiting their daughter at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, wrote a check for two of these town homes on the spot, they couldn’t believe how inexpensive they were. Another person visiting from California wrote a check for a third town home right on the spot, they were amazed at how cheap it was.
Fuck!!! The whole point of the collaborative effort, was to create affordable housing for local residents in Flagstaff whose average hourly wage was only $11.00 per hour, not create unbelievably cheap housing for people visiting from California to have a great windfall in buying an investment property, at the expense of everyone who cooperated to perform the work so cheaply. Buying up the low income housing intended solely for the low income people.
Here is another example of wealthy people not understanding.
During the oil boom in Dickinson, there was a shortage of housing, and the housing that was available was very expensive. Many workers slept in their vehicles at the Tiger Truck Stop, the Wal-Mart parking lot, Patterson Lake, or the company yards where they worked.
In the evening, you could pay $8.00 to take a shower at the Tiger Truck Stop. There were five showers available, and you had to sign up on a waiting list. The wait would sometimes be an hour or two. The construction workers and the truck drivers, who were filthy dirty and tired, would sit around and stand around waiting for their turn.
A truck driver or construction worker went up to the cashier at the Tiger Truck Stop, and asked if a shower was ready yet. An older gentleman, maybe about sixty years old, dressed like a professional person, such as a banker or lawyer, who was paying for gas in his new Cadillac, his eyes lit up with delight, when he heard about the showers. He turned to his wife and said, honey they have showers.
This elderly gentleman, was under the mistaken impression, that the Tiger Truck Stop was like a day spas, who knows what kind of luxury pampered experience he was envisioning. In reality, you would be given a great big dirty wooden stick with a key on it, and be told you have twenty minutes.
I will give two examples of people not understanding how poor some people are.
When I was living in Idaho, there was a poor man with a wife and young daughter who sometimes worked with me at my self-employed construction work. In bad times, he and his wife would look in grocery store dumpsters for packaged food that had been thrown out because it was past its expiration date.
On many days when the thrift stores closed, his wife would go look in the garbage dumpsters behind the thrift stores to see what clothes had been thrown away. They would sometimes go to the food bank.
I stopped by Joe’s house one evening just after he had returned from picking up a large pizza from Dominoes. Joe asked me if I wanted any, and I said no thank you. I realized that this large pizza was all that Joe had for himself, his wife, and his daughter.
Just then, two Mormon missionaries stopped by Joe’s house, who he and I were friends with. Joe offered the two Mormon missionaries some pizza, which they were happy to accept. The two Mormon missionaries each quickly ate two pieces of pizza, and I can’t remember if they each had a third piece, but most of the pizza was gone.
They asked me if I was not having any, and I said no, I had already eaten. They asked Joe if he was not having any, and Joe said no, I’m fixing to have something else. Joe gave the remaining pizza to his wife and his daughter, and the Mormon missionaries were on their way shortly. That pizza was all the food that Joe had for himself and his family that night.
One more fun story about poor people.
When I was a kid, there was a white trash boy, playing with a young black kid. The white trash boy, his name was Jimmy. Jimmy gave a match box car to the young black kid whose name was Michael.
Michael’s grandparents, who were raising Michael, were very traditional, hard working, God-fearing people, and they wanted to know how Michael had come by this match box car. Michael told his grandparents that Jimmy had given it to him.
In order to be honorable people, Michael’s grandparents said to Jimmy’s father, thank you for giving that match box car to our grandson, we would like to offer you, anything that you wish in our store.
This old black woman, she went by Miss Edith, and she ran Miss Edith’s store, where she sold hand-made straw hats that she made herself, and a few other hand made items, like maybe straw fans, or straw place mats. In a glass case at the cash register, there was a gold necklace that was the most expensive thing in the store. I believe the price on it was something like $130. This is what Jimmy’s father said that he wanted.
Out of pride and wanting to keep her word, she gave Jimmy’s father this gold necklace. This $130 gold necklace, was probably the equivalent of her family’s income for the week, if not more.
My father, who was a bystander to all of this, made up some story and got $130 to Miss Edith a few hours later, and explained to her that this was all a misunderstanding, because he knew that this was something that Miss Edith could not afford to lose.
This last example, now that I think about it, may not be purely an example of someone not knowing and not understanding, but may partly involve someone not giving a shit too.