It’s Just a Matter of Scale

It’s a funny feeling to hear someone say she can’t possibly live on $2,000 a month – which used to be my take-home pay when I was working. I had to remind myself that she has a large house to maintain, and two kids and a dog to support, and had just $200 left for the last week of January, which she was counting out in twenties. She was debating whether to spend several of those twenties on another doctor’s visit for a sore that wasn’t healing. At this point she was more than willing to try the salt-water compresses I suggested.

It’s also a funny feeling to hear someone say, at around the same time last month, that she might lose her rent-controlled apartment after 20 years if she can’t scrape up $650 for rent in a week’s time – forget that her computer doesn’t work and so she can’t easily post anything on Craigslist for quick sale. I felt badly that I couldn’t send cash, but I did have a $20 phone card I bought at a 2-for-1 sale, so I mailed one to her.

Then I realized we’re all in the same boat, really. I was counting out the rest of my month’s expense money in dollars, while my “$2,000” friend was counting hers in twenties. and my friend on the edge was counting hers in quarters, nickels, pennies.

Despite the difference in scale, we’re all counting, we’re all downsizing, we’re all having to make terrible trade-offs, we’re all in the same sinking boat.


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