Sunday, October 21, 2007

How the Other Half Lives

Did you ever find yourself wondering what someone else’s life is like? What goes on in a day in the life of the rich, the poor, the doctors, the artists, the librarians, and the store clerks? Thankfully, most of us are blessed with lives that aren’t that bad. Yes, maybe we have good days and bad days and really bad days too, but for the most part we can go to sleep at night with a roof over our head and people who love and care about us.
Over the past week, I have found myself in a few situations, giving me a glimpse of life outside of “my world.”

Despite the fact that I have an Ivy League education and a well paying job, I still babysit. I don’t need the money, but I love getting to hang with kids, channel my creativity, and take a break for the seriousness of my *real* job. When I moved to NY, really missing J & R, I found a new babysitting gig on craigslist. Yes, it sounds a little sketchy, but I provided a page of references and went and interviewed the family. It was important that I felt comfortable with them too! But I digress.

So I have been sitting for this new family for about 2 months. I go once or twice a week for four or five hours. Last Thursday, I was meeting Mrs. R to pick up baseball boy at the park and then go home to get princess girl. When I got to the park, Mrs. R was talking with two other moms. I walked up and Mrs. R introduced me as, “Kelly, our babysitter”. The two moms did not stop their conversation to acknowledge my presence or even flash a weak smile. Instead, they blew me off like I was some second class citizen who was ‘just a babysitter.” Mrs. R (clearly feeling awkward now) invited me to sit down and asked me a question about her back. (She had pulled a rib two days previous and wanted my “expert” opinion.) The two women, upon hearing “Well, you’re a nurse, what do you think?” immediately stopped their conversation and looked over at me. They said, “You’re a nurse? I thought you were a babysitter?” Trying to hard not to give them a dirty look replied, “Yes, I am a nurse. I graduated in May from the University of Pennsylvania. I’ve always babysat. I just enjoy the change of pace from my job.”
Again, looking at me like I had 10 heads, they said, “Wait,. So you went to Penn, you are a nurse, and you do this for fun?” Mrs. R said, “Yeah, Aren’t I lucky! She’s a little over qualified to babysit my kids!”

I couldn’t believe this! These women were unbelievable. They really thought that I was just some schmuck with no education who HAD to babysit. Interesting how once they learned a little bit about me that they were a little bit warmer…as if we suddenly had something to talk about. In all honesty, these women should be worshiping the people who watch their kids EVERY day. The “help” is taking care of their most precious loves. I was so disgusted. However, this was also the very first time I realized what it was like to be thought of us an outsider, a second-class citizen. Honestly, it was awful.

Okay, so that’s one end of the spectrum, but I also experienced what its’ like to have more money than God.

My mom was in town this past weekend and my roommate was running an event for work out of a very swanky hotel on Park Avenue this weekend. She runs these events a lot, and they always are out to business dinners, making high society connections, rubbing elbows with the rich and famous of Hollywood….okay, you get the picture.
So my weekend of high society began with a movie screening, VIP tickets, reserved seats, and no lines! No waiting! Private cars to and from the event! Then there were dinner and rinks in the hotel library. I was drinking $25 glasses of wine, $20 cocktails (NEVER did the cups run dry or have a chance to get warm!), eating $60 seafood cocktails-shrimp, lobster, caviar, etc. Our server learned our name (well he already knew my roommate from her routine work related events there) and when my mom started having hot flashes from the excessive amounts of alcohol that we were drinking (sorry, if that’s TMI!) he went and turned on the air conditioning and adjusted the vent near our private corner both so that it would blow directly on her. He heard that my mom was only in town for the weekend, so he packed her a bag of treats and bottles of mineral and sparkling water “on the house.” So that’s how life is when your dinner/drink tab is $500 for 4 people. Geez, I’ve been missing out!

And then one of the rooms that had been booked for the event was available, so my roommate offered to give it to my mom. Neither my roommate not I wanted to stay there, so my mom got PAMPERED! The room she stayed in costs $675/night. This place was decked out! She had a king size bed with 1000 thread count sheets, a luxuriously plush bathrobe, a fully stocked mini bar, hot towel service, room service, a fully functioning jet-spa tub, a wide flat screen 50 inch plasma television, etc. Let’s just say that my mom was in heaven. She flopped back on the bed like they do in the movies, she rolled around on the sheets, and she brushed the robe against her cheeks! Ahh, the ”texture” of luxury!
In the morning she got a call asking her if she wanted breakfast brought to the room! Seriously, I don’ t think the woman has ever been more pampered. She revealed to me when I met her later in the morning that she stayed up until 2 in the morning propped up on her 5 down pillows watching movies and taking a luxurious bath, and relaxing; she didn’t wake up until 8:30am! (This coming from the woman who is usually in bed by 10pm and is wide awake at 5 am, following an awful nights sleep totaling less than 4 true hours sleep, interrupted by hot flashes.)

When we were leaving the hotel, our bags were carried, everyone held the doors for us, and everyone had a smile on their face, and was willing to go to the ends of the earth to make you comfortable! It’s funny how differently you get treated when you ‘have money’ (or are assumed to have it!!!)

So that’s my story in a nutshell.- my glimpse of life on both sides of the tracks. I’m not going to lie, the life of luxury is amazing and life as a second-class citizen sucks, but in the end I think I’m happy being me. I have the best of both worlds. I live comfortably and have loving family and friends.

So do me a favor, next time you are out and see a homeless person, realize that you are only a few paychecks away from that yourself but don’t forget that you could also be one lottery ticket away from luxury! Live in the moment and

1 comment:

O said...

Manhattan will offer you all that and more. So glad your mom got to enjoy a weekend of luxury that she surely deserves! How fun. Hooray for her and hooray for your roommate.
As to the other mommies...as T's Uncle Jack said upon meeting some folks of..um...questionable integrity at Wharton, "I don't have to be like them, but I have to know that they are out there!" Same deal.
You'll never settle for feeling second class. And you'll never let anyone do that to someone in your presence. That puts you light-years ahead of these other women. And it's part of the fun of the Penn degree...as a friend once said, it's the kind of place that makes people re-evaluate their estimation of your intelligence when they hear you've gone there. It's fun to save it for just such moments...but may you have very few of them in your life!