There are people of privilege in this world and as much as I would like it to be different, that is a cold, hard fact of life. When my father finally divorced my mother, my family’s economic situation became less than ideal, but long before that, I knew that we were not people of privilege.
My father worked very hard for a number of years just to put enough food on the table for my brothers and I to eat a decent meal. My mother, through a very capable lawyer, managed to wrest everything my father owned, including the house we grew up in. To add insult to injury, my mother “allowed” my father to reside in the house so long as he took care of us. When my brothers and I all reached the age of 18, the house would then again revert back to my mother to do with as she saw fit.
Throughout my high school years, we lived just slightly above the poverty line. The only difference between us and the homeless people you see on the street begging for food/change, was the simple fact that we had a house. Keep in mind that my father still had to pay the mortgage for the house, even though when it was all said and done, he would not get a penny from its sale.
Anyway, my father busted his ass to give us what he could, but when we were old enough, my older brother and I worked. At 14 I was bussing tables and washing dishes at a restaurant. The money was used to pay for the extras my father couldn’t afford to give me… things like clothes, shoes, lunch money.
When you go into a restaurant, chances are you’ll see people working their asses off to make sure you have a pleasant experience. Of course, people of privilege have no idea what it is like to work hard only to have their paycheck split 60/40 with uncle sam. People of privilege can afford accountants who find the loopholes that allow them to keep even more of their money. Taxes are, afterall, the bane of the working class. People of privilege are above that.
When I go into a restaurant, I tip. I tip at least 20% unless I was patently ignored by the waitstaff. When I was living large in San Francisco, I would often tip 30% and ask the wait staff to give 10% to the kitchen kids, just because I remember what it was like to work hard and have the people of privilege ignore the “undesirables” in the kitchen.
I see people of privilege quite often here on maui and my distaste for them still burns as brightly as it did when I first encountered their arrogance. Yesterday while the Red Queen and I were shopping one of these privileged few cut in front of us in line and said, “I could be one of those kinds of people who lets you go first, but I’m not, so I won’t.”
My girlfriend tries to make me a better person. She’s kind, gentle and most times operates with a grace that is completely free of pretension. She tries to get me to ease up and emulate her when it comes to dealing with these people. Which is to say, she ignores them. Now, I could have said many things when the man opened his mouth… for instance, I could have said, “I could be the kind of person who beats the living fuck out of you, walks outside to skull fuck your wife in the back seat of your caddillac, then finds every member of your family where ever they may be and systematically guts them like fish, but I’m not… so I’ll just kick your fat old white ass!”
But I didn’t… I could have said, “I could be the kind of person who explains to you how incredibly rude you’re being, but I won’t.” But I didn’t say that either…
What I did instead was just laugh and look at him until he turned away. You can take the mexican out of the prison, but you can’t make him kiss a white man’s ass…