Sign of the times?

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I am probably the wrong person to make comment on the current state of the economy. I don’t know much, I don’t watch enough TV or read enough newspapers. I know what I have seen in headline news suggests that people can’t pay mortgages on their homes (fall out of some questionable, maybe shady, lending practices and a rise in interest rates) and that rentals are on the rise, people duking it out over the good places (much like back in the dot.com days, I personally put up a good fight to get the first place I rented when I moved).

The Bay Area is an odd place to gauge wealth. I live amongst some of the wealthiest people in the world (hello, Silicon Valley). But given the cost of living around here, there are also a lot of people barely scraping by. From where I’m sitting, it would seem the middle class is evaporating. Seeing as how I’d call myself middle class, I often wonder on which end of the scale I’m going to end up when the water’s dried up and sides have been chosen.

Right now in the economy, I know there are plenty of jobs to be had. I know this because I am having a devil of a time finding candidates for the two jobs I’m personally hiring for. All the good people have good jobs. And the so-so people want too much money because they know the market is hot and they can ask for the outrageous. And usually they get it.

I see a lot of wealth around me. But this weekend gave me pause for thought. What am I missing?

Twice this weekend I was witness to shoplifting. Well, I guess neither could rightly be called shoplifting but maybe a form of, I suppose.

Saturday I saw a woman taking money from a tip jar at the coffee shop. I know the employees of the shop don’t rely solely on tips to make it work, it’s incidental, but at the end of the day, the woman was audaciously reaching in and stealing dollar bills that weren’t hers.

Sunday I saw a woman at the grocery eating food she clearly didn’t intend to pay for.

The first woman looked desperate, like she needed every bit she could get. The second lady looked like money wasn’t a problem…but looks can be deceiving, I know.

In neither case did I report on the so-called “victimless crimes”. I didn’t know what to do. I know that stores boost up their prices to pay for the inventory shrink. I know I ultimately pay for the theft out of my own pocketbook.

But both incidents got me to thinking about what heights or what lows would I resort to if I was desperate, hungry, out of work and out of money.

I can’t say that I wouldn’t be the one stealing a dollar from a jar if I got down to it.

But then I can’t say that I would either. I don’t know.

Both incidents made me sad. And made me wonder what is going on in our economy. I mean, it could be a random event. Or could it be a trend?

Guess today is a day about counting my blessings, in all forms.

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  • Natalie

    Mmmhmm.. that ol’ one or two paychecks away from ruin is mighty close to just about everyone’s pocketbook. In reality, anyway, because so many people are up to their necks in debt.
    I’ve seen many “suits” grab money out of the tip jar. The fact is that most baristas make about 7 bucks an hour and those tips, when pooled, amount to between 3-4 dollars more an hour for them. That’s still not a living wage but it does help to pay the rent.
    My sister, drug addict (prescription drugs) that she is, will intentionally shoplift… just for kicks. I don’t hang with her anymore just because of this.
    And then there are the folks who don’t think a thing of eating food in grocery stores, wearing clothing out of stores, driving away after filling-up (’cause let’s face it, it’s a precious commodity) and all of those other things.
    Me? I just make sure to go to Costco on the days when they are sampling the good stuff. lol
    It is sad and it does make me count my blessings. Really, it’s no different than knowing whether or not it’s okay to give a begger money ’cause I’m concerned about what they will do with it.
    The world is outta control… on drugs… and livin’ on credit in every single way possible: spiritually, monetarily, environmentally, politically, humanely.
    It is overwhelming.

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