Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Email: I am part of the "1%"

I saw your website on my brother's facebook and felt compelled to
share my story.

My step-dad is a small business owner who works long hours to put food
on our table, pay our bills, and take care of us. He'll often go
without a paycheck in order to make sure his two store employees get
what they've worked to earn. When I was in high school I moved in with
my mom and step-dad. Instead of worrying about finances and
complaining about being a burden, my step-dad took me in willingly and
even put me through private school. Even with the help of
scholarships, he still ended up paying about $2000 a year. Did I
mention that he earns less than what is considered the poverty line in
this country?

At fourteen I got a job to help ease up my parent's responsibilities.
My parents never complained or coerced me into working but encouraged
me to do so because that's what people do when they want something. I
wanted pocket money and since my parents couldn't afford to subsidize
my fun stuff, I got a job waiting tables for a catering company. The
uniform was awful, the hours long, and the clean up often kept me out
til long after midnight on school nights. But, I didn't complain
because I was making money, I was even saving! I also earned a bit of
money by tutoring other kids at school and editing their school
essays. In my class at my exclusive private school, I was the only
person with a job and my classmates' parents often pleaded with me to
encourage their kids to get jobs, admiring my efforts. I didn't think
it was anything special. I did what I had to.

At fifteen I began paying for all my own clothes and school supplies.

My well-off father offered to pay for my college education so long as
I went to a school of his choosing. But when I told him I didn't want
to major in what he thought I should (business, blech!) he cut me off.
I got through two years of college completely debt free thanks to his
generosity. The next two years I covered my college expenses by
earning scholarships and grants and working two part time jobs to pay
for all my own books, groceries and my apartment. My Dad eventually
chipped in a bit to help, but he only covered a minimal fraction of my

I walked everywhere, even though I lived off campus, even in the
winter when it would drop to negative five degrees. I took a free
shuttle for students to the grocery store. I bought used books online,
lived off sandwiches, cereal and eggs, and avoided going out as much
as possible. I graduated from college with only ten grand in loans, a
modern miracle to some. After graduation this Spring I decided to take
a year off to work and save up some money. I haven't found anything in
my field yet but I take what I can get. Temp work, subbing and working
customer service is what I have available to me and I make the best of
it. I moved back in with my parents and live in the bedroom I grew up
in as a kid. I still sleep on a bunk bed...but my parents charge me
only $200 a month to live there which helps cut costs.

I still pay for all my own food, clothes, and everything else too. And
I still walk everywhere. I'm saving up to go to grad school in England
next year. I'm going to get my doctorate in creative writing and
become a professor and author. Why England? It costs less. Also, I'm a
big Tolkien and Lewis nerd. But mostly because it costs less.

 I have worked hard for everything I have. My parents taught me to
live beneath my means and work hard for things I want. These wall
street protesters need to buck up, pull themselves up by their
bootstraps, and get jobs! It's not impossible.