Sunday, April 15, 2012

Can I Borrow Your Shoes?

I mentioned in a prior post that a guilty pleasure includes parenting a miniature family within the mechanical recesses of my phone. The app is called Virtual Families and I go through phases of attentiveness, sometimes opening the app to find a morbid scene of the family members all peacefully dead on the master bed. The start over button is pretty handy.


When I pay attention to this game, I'm really good at it. And by that I mean I can type "virtual family cheats" into google. Thanks to a random computer nerd that did the dirty work for me, I clicked some buttons a few days ago and added $100,000 to the bank account. With that money I purchased a treadmill, pinball machine, grill, and a remodeled kitchen, office, and workshop. I stocked the pantry with 1600 available food items. The character, Dynamite, should have had "elated" stamped across his mood status. Instead, it read, "a bit blue"(maybe his name was part of the problem, unfortunately I don't get to create them). So I did what any sensible caretaker would do and tackled his relationship status, inviting the gold digging Brenania into his luxurious home. They married and eventually produced a child, Boor, (I wish I could revoke their naming privileges) but they still are not completely happy. Why? They literally own every single amenity that the game offers. They are employed, advancing their careers everyday. They have a healthy family. 


In sociology last Monday we watched a movie featuring the infamous Morgan Spurlock. You probably know him best for his controversial role in "Supersize Me." In this film, entitled "30 Days", my classmates and I watched as he and his fiancee traded their upper middle class life for 30 days as minimum wage earners. They moved to Ohio, a state with some of the poorest cities at the time of production, and got an apartment in a questionable part of town, all that they could afford on the one weeks minimum wage salary they were allowed to begin their new life with. Obtaining jobs weren't the issue, they both easily found employment. Morgan generally arrived home each day with about forty dollars to show for his work for that day, after taxes. They relied on the generosity of charities to furnish their meager abode and subsided on beans and rice, cheap staples for a vegan diet. They both worked hard for their cash, but still found it hard to pay the bills, especially when unexpected health issues arose. Morgan injured his wrist on the job and found himself in the ER with his fiancee, who complained of a urinary tract infection. The total visit cost them nearly $1000, at least $700 just for walking in the door of the hospital, before being examined by any medical professional. 


I don't pretend to have any genius answers for the economic situation that America faces today. But I cannot pretend to not be bothered seeing hardworking people face such dilemmas without any upper middle class life to return to. Morgan Spurlock was only participating in an experiment for 30 days. People live like that for life, we see them everyday, just without the cameras recording the atrocity. I work at Jamba Juice in the summer and receive a bit above minimum wage for my hours there. Whirling smoothies is probably the easiest job I will ever have. The difference is that those paychecks don't go to the absolute necessities of life. I save those for eating out, paying for school books, flights to NYC, and shopping sprees at H&M. I can't imagine having to stretch those pennies to cover housing, food, and medicine. 


There isn't a guaranteed cheat method to multiply the bank account when money is tight in real life. My virtual family is privy to a higher standard of living than actual people in America. This Very Lucky Girl is counting her blessings twice tonight, and making Dynamite and Brenania do the same. 

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