I’m having some trouble staying upbeat lately.
Ok, so maybe I’m having some trouble not wallowing in the depths of a weird, nebulous depression.
The problem is, I like to read the news. I like to stay informed. I like to know what’s going on in the world around me. But right now, reading article after article about the crumbling economic situation; constantly hearing about things ‘hitting bottom’, and about how a year from now the situation could be even worse, is pretty frightening. Because I don’t think I completely understand the ramifications of the current situation, and therefore, if things get worse, I feel like I’m rapidly going to be learning a lot of unpleasant lessons and having many new and difficult experiences.
Living cheap is nothing really new for me. I have lived paycheck-to-paycheck before, so it’s not that big a deal to do it now. I’m happy to pull up my socks, smile bravely, cancel my Netflix account and stop eating out or purchasing new clothes. But really, all of that is pretty easy to do. And somehow I feel like that is just the beginning.
Are you feeling more hopeful? Tell me I need to lighten up. A pie to the face might help, since Lent is over, and I am once again all about pie.
I just sat through another wretched “Cash For Gold!” television ad. The prevalence of these low-budget commercials has increased in direct proportion to my general malaise about the state of the economy. This latest ad showed a woman digging through her jewelry box and shaking her head in disgust. Her expression was that of someone who had just discovered mold on her shower curtain. But what was really bothering her were the heaps of jewelry taking up space in her jewelry box.
“Great-Aunt Shelia’s locket,” she seemed to be thinking resentfully, “Why keep you when I could have cold hard cash instead?”
See, the concept of wanting to get rid of your “old, broken and unwanted” gold jewelry doesn’t make much sense to me. If your gold jewelry is old, it’s probably because it has sentimental value. If it’s broken, you’re probably hanging on to it because you’ve been meaning to have it repaired, because it’s got sentimental value– but, you know, in this economy, now is not the time to repair your old, broken gold jewelry. If it’s unwanted but valuable jewelry, you probably pawned it already so you could afford to keep your television so as not to miss those hilarious “Cash for Gold!” ads. (There’s an O. Henry story in there somewhere.) And if you’re like me, and your jewelry is unwanted and not valuable, it’s because it came from a plastic egg out of a fifty cent prize machine.
Back to the commercial. Next, another woman appeared onscreen, managing in her seven seconds of airtime to convey a sense of utter and complete dishonesty. Had she been my waitress, I would not have trusted her to put my leftover sandwich-half into a take-home container without first wiping it on the floor behind the kitchen stove.
“I put my wedding ring from my ex-husband into an envelope, and the next day I got back an envelope full of MONEY!” she crowed, clutching fistfuls of bills…all of which appeared to be singles. One look at her and I instantly sided with her ex-husband.
That’s another problem. These ads seem to count on viewers’ lack of awareness that there are other methods of finding out what your jewelry is worth besides sticking it in an envelope and mailing it to the mysterious address that flashed briefly on your television screen in between a motor-scooter infomercial and the start of ‘Jeopardy’. You could mail it to me, for example. I am completely trustworthy. I will definitely mail you some dollar bills back, if you include postage in the envelope.
Or, you know, you could take it to someone called a ‘Jewelry Appraiser’. However, that probably involves leaving your house, and possibly even putting on pants. (Though I can think of a few other ways you can earn fistfuls of dollar bills by staying pantless, this is a family blog.)
Hmm…I think I now understand the underlying success in ‘Cash for Gold!’ I too want to profit from the laziness of others! Perhaps I should start a “Pants-Free Jewelry Appraisal Business”. And I would, if that didn’t sound completely wrong.
Dear Wall Street,
I wanted to thank you for doing your part to make older Americans feel less marginalized. Thanks to your efforts, those men and women who are close to retirement no longer need exit the workforce and sit on the sidelines. What could they possibly accomplish, spending their twilight years relaxing and reflecting? Where’s the dignity in that? Grandchildren get boring quickly. World travel is overrated. Today’s seniors want more out of retirement than a chance to sit back and enjoy the golden years they spent decades saving for. You’ve given them not only the privilege, but also the absolute necessity, to get back out into the workplace and prove themselves—by showing us they still know how to earn money to buy themselves food and medicine!
You recognize that today’s elders don’t want to slow down! They want to be on the move—working and earning income just like regular Joe forty-something Americans! If you’re only as old as you act, just think how young and spry your average seventy-year-old will feel when he’s earning minimum wage again—just like he did as a teenager! Yes, an abrupt and staggering loss of the retirement savings they spent years cultivating is just the kick in the baggy polyester pants that today’s vibrant elderly population needed! Soon they’ll be back out in the workforce in slow droves, chasing the American dream again—if they can remember where they left it. Competition between three generations of American workers is just the kind of rivalry that will really drive the marketplace!