Wednesday, March 25, 2009

A Woman in her Thirties is Suddenly Rich. And White.

I was having a conference today after school with a student I'll call G. G is a good kid, a really good kid actually, but his home life is not all that spectacular. Couple that with severe ADHD and processing issues, and his grades don't reflect anywhere near the potential he has in life.

He told me about an idea he had about going to a trade school to learn to be an electrician, and I couldn't have been happier about the prospect. That kind of work is perfect for someone like G-- he can focus on being the best at what he does, he can take jobs as he pleases, and the money is great. No essay writing involved.

'Yeah,' he said. 'I already have a plan. I'm going to learn to be an electrician and then I'm going to go to rich white neighborhoods and knock on doors and see if they need electrical work.'

I was ready to develop a business plan for him, but he interrupted me.

'No offense.'

I stalled, experiencing the same processing issues G must face on a daily basis. 'No offense?' Wait, by 'rich white neighborhoods' could he have been talking about me?

I don't think there was a day in my twenties that went by that I wasn't living paycheck to paycheck. Relief came in the form of an expat gig in Asia, when I sold all my possessions and got myself out of some seriously dire financial straits. My current pay grade could be called laughable when compared to the work I do.

Rich? Me?

As far as the 'white' comment goes, that was just rude. A line of waiting Hispanics at the bank I used to work at would tell you I am surely Mexican. In Asia, I was half Chinese three times and half Korean once. In Vietnam, talking to an Australian-Maltese woman, I had to be at least half Portuguese.

White? Me?

As I drove home to my downtown apartment thinking about the rigatoni I was going to make for dinner I realized that from what G sees everyday, he is right. I am both to him, and neither to me.

A woman in her thirties is amazed by the power of the image she portrays, no matter how false. Or how true.

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