I think that some of my new colleagues don???t even know how lucky they have been over the last 2 years to have been not only employed, but well-employed. (Is that the opposite of under-employed??)
I know I was lucky to only be unemployed for six months. And for the last year I would say that I was under-employed but I still felt very lucky to have the job that I had. Now that I am well-employed ??? that is in a position that utilizes my knowledge and experiences and more than adequately compensates me for that experience and knowledge ??? I feel truly blessed.
I know what it???s like to not really have enough money to pay bills, to not be able to go out to dinner regularly, to be eating Chef Boyardee for lunch because it???s only $1 at Fred Meyer. And I know that I wasn???t as affected as some.
Today I went out for lunch, which I can easily afford now, but I could not get myself to try a cool fondue place in town because the prices on their lunch menu were around $7-8 which meant I would probably spend over $10 on lunch by the time it was all said and done. I???m having a hard time spending the better part of $10 or more on just myself for lunch. So I went to Port o??? Subs instead and still spent over $5.
But the other day I was talking to someone about her cool toenail polish, it was really dark but I thought I caught tinges of red in it, and I was right: the color was Royal Rajah Ruby from OPI???s Russian collection. In and of itself that wasn???t so bad, even on my inadequate salary of the last year I became addicted to OPI nail polish at $8.50 a bottle. What struck me was that she didn???t do her own pedicure and it wasn???t a special occasion, either. She has a pedicurist that she regularly visits every 4-5 weeks along with a high-end hair stylist and a massage therapist. She also takes advantage of the make-up artist at her hair salon and some of the other spa services at the pedicurist???s spa.
I???m not saying that???s bad, it just made me realize how insulated some of the American population has been during this recession. The ones who have maintained decent jobs during the last two years really have no clue about what the 10% unemployed are going through. They can???t even begin to understand what it is like to be ???under-employed.??? The numbers are just numbers, the words are just words.
This recession is creating such dichotomous society. It???s not like the Great Depression where everyone in that generation still hoards and saves because of what they went through. This time it seems like a large portion of the population is just going through the motions of cutting back on their spending, increasing their savings, curbing their borrowing. They are doing it because they know they should be. I don???t think they feel truly concerned about their finances like those of us who spent time unemployed and under-employed.
??At some point I hope I can allow myself to spend $10 on a nice lunch once a week or once every two weeks. But I think, once this whole Great Recession is truly over, those of us that experienced unemployment and under-employment will be a lot closer to a Great Depression era hoarder than those who kept their jobs. I think we???ll see a dual effect on society???s habits as we pull out of this, I wonder what economists and historians will say about this in 20 years???