Jacob often tells me I am a snob, and I am inclined to agree. I grew up in the suburbs in a nice middle class town. We, my sisters and I went to school with doctor’s kids, and lawyer’s kids, as well as blue collar kids. Jacob however grew up in the city, so our paths couldn’t have been more divergent. How we came to be a couple who ultimately married is where fate intervened, but that is a story for another day.
At any rate, I obtained the job that I interviewed for. Right before accepting the position, Tom, my interviewer says “This job pays minimum wage” I shrugged my shoulders and said “OK” after all this is my “fun money” job. We shook hands and agreed on my start date of Sunday, and I walked out of the theater with a smile. I called Jacob on my cell phone that has a bill of $67 a month, or the equivalent of almost 10 hours of working at this job. I then pressed the button to disengage the alarm on our 2008 Cobalt Sport which has a car payment of $330 a month, and at that time held a little under a ½ of a tank of gas. Following that, I stopped at McDonalds I ordered 2 value meals and whipped out a credit card that I am sure has a balance of at least $300 on it to pay before driving past the Get Go that was showing regular gas at a cost of $3.68 a gallon.
It was only then that it occurred to me. $7.15 is minimum wage which is just shy of two gallons of gas. Here I am “excited” to make $7.15 an hour for “fun” yet that same amount of money is what someone makes as their full time job. These aren’t people who complain that their darn SUV with a payment of $450 a month now costs them $100 a week to fill. No, these are people that Jacob would accuse me of being “snobby” with. People who are making in a 40 hour week $286 before taxes! Let’s not even talk about the cost of their health care, no wait, let’s talk about it. $286 a week comes out to: $1239 a month, or a little over $13,000 a year, and this is before taxes. Let’s assume for a second that they loose 15% of their wage that now equals a take home pay of $1053.15. $100 a month for health insurance is CHEAP for a family, but lest just say that theirs costs $100 a month. They are now down to $953.15 to pay for gas, rent, food, and other necessities.
I feel guilty for complaining that IVF is inaccessible to Jacob or I given our current budget. I feel guilty for not being more concerned for the price of gas. I take for granted that it’s “nothing” to whip out the Sunoco card, or ATM card to throw $40 into the tank once a week. Or that when I go to Giant Eagle tonight and slap down $200 for a cart full of groceries tonight that I do so without having to utilize food stamps just to get by. I feel even guiltier for judging the parent who has missed 5 of their last 6 appointments with the clinic, and then calls telling me it’s an emergency and that their child needs to be seen immediately. Especially when I judge more harshly when I find out they hold Gateway or Unison. For perhaps this mom isn’t lazy, but instead was told—“if you take May 13th off you will be fired” When you realize that unemployment is only 80% of 7.15 I think I would send my child to school or day care too.
There really is no solution that can be had at this level. It’s more just a simple observation, that yes I am a snob and that yes, I should be more grateful. For there was once a time when I had more to worry about than the fact that $10,000 for IVF is out of my grasp. No, there was a time when like those who now make $7.15 an hour that I had to worry not about just keep the car full of gas….but just keeping the car at all. Boy, how times change…but my how the leopard never does…