First appeared on Blogcritics.Somewhere between those born into wealth and loving it and Shirley Temple as "The Poor Little Rich Girl," we have a young woman who pens an essay about her sea of troubles as a poor little rich girl in New York City. Her essay “I’m Not Going to Pretend That I’m Poor to Be Accepted by You” is a good example of a freshman comp first draft gone viral. I don’t know much about her, but it seems that she is claiming to be upset because she has money and perceives that she is being treated poorly because of it. Oh, woe is her and then some!
Of all the indignities of the world, I image that being born rich must be the worst of all. I recently became aware of her story when I read an article in the New York Daily News. What a travesty that has been thrust upon her. I would cry tears if I could, but alas I feel nothing about her rant except an urgent need to ride the subway and rub shoulders with real people.
While this young woman feels she has been frowned upon for walking around town in designer clothes and carrying a Mulberry shopping bag, let’s look at the other end of the spectrum. Can you imagine the looks poor people get when they would even try to walk inside a store like that? There is without question an expression of disdain and deep contempt when you don’t look the part here in New York City, or apparently in many other places in the world as well if you recall when Oprah Winfrey was prevented from shopping in a Swiss store because she didn’t look like she belonged.
I grew up here in New York City in Queens. Most of my friends had fathers who worked very hard (like mine who was a NYC cop), and because of that we maybe didn’t see them as much as we would have liked. Overtime has a way of cutting into father-son time, but when food needs to be bought and rent paid, there is no complaining to be done about not playing catch with dear old dad. You understand the implications of his not working, so you keep your mouth shut and appreciate the times when he can go to your ballgame or maybe play checkers with you.
Obviously, I don’t know what gilded slings and arrows this young woman has had to endure, but I wonder how she would feel if she knew what it was like for us. There are real people who work and pay rent in apartments of this city, many of whom can barely make ends meet – people who indeed live from paycheck to paycheck, hoping that the job is there for them next week. We have seen the other side of the coin, the waiters and the sales clerks and the doormen and every other person who looks us up and down and thinks we don’t belong there.
I always remember a great line uttered by Jimmy Stewart playing George Bailey in It’s a Wonderful Life. He was speaking to the rich old goat Mr. Potter (Lionel Barrymore). Potter has been complaining about the riff-raff in town and how George is helping them to get out of his crowded apartments and buy nice houses. George stands up for the poor (for he himself is one of them) and tells Potter, “These people do most of the living and working and dying in this town.” As George goes on, Potter yawns and covers his mouth. Apparently he was another poor rich kid that everyone misunderstood too.
This young woman also denigrates public colleges, saying that it’s not her fault that her father could send her to an elite school. Well, as a proud graduate of the City University of New York, I believe I had a superior education. I never regret my college days and actually treasure the fact that I got to go to a school where most everyone I knew appreciated being there. They weren’t bored wealthy undergrads just blowing their parents money because they didn’t know what else to do with their lives. And most of us, after a long day of classes, rushed off to our after school jobs and then went home late and started studying. Oh, it should have been such agony but it was actually one of the best times of my life.
I am happy I was born to my parents and lived where I did, and I have never wished that my dad was someone else or that I was born into wealth. I was well loved and cared for, and I may not have gotten a BMW for my 18th birthday, but that old Chevy I bought with my own money seemed like a luxury car to me.
After all these years I am still friends with a group of guys I have known since I was five years old. We get together, share memories, and have a few drinks. None of us is bitter about how we used to live, and I believe we all cherish where the journey of life took us more because we remember where we came from.
Still, you could say that I know my place in the world. If I get a dirty look from someone who thinks he or she is better than I am for whatever reason, I basically ignore it. I have never allowed insults to be taken personally because that only empowers a person. So if wealthy people don’t like the way I look, I hope they enjoy the feeling of superiority that gives them. Maybe they can go into their penthouses, sip their cognac or champagne, and feel better about themselves. I’ll even lift my bottle of Poland Springs water and say “Cheers!” to them.
Back to our friend the poor little rich girl. So misunderstood is she, that now she fears someone “will spit in my face.” Oh, the tragedy of it all! Perhaps she should carry disinfectant wipes because you know all us poor folk are riddled with diseases. Protect yourself, dear girl, from us all. It’s one mean city out there; however, New Yorkers don’t spit into the faces of rich people; they have better things to do with their saliva.
I for one would like to thank her for her essay because it opened my eyes to the plight of the wealthy. I never realized how bad they had it, and now I wonder if we should start a movement of some kind to assist those more fortunate than ourselves. Perhaps we can raise the consciousness of regular people to understand that the wealthy have such a rough go of it. We New Yorkers always rise to the occasion, so I am sure we can muster something substantial like the Fresh Stare Fund – an organization making sure that no one will ever look down on the wealthy folks again.
Besides, what do I care about what rich people think? I don’t know a single one of them to be honest. I will never pretend to be rich to be accepted by anyone because I have friends, family, and love; therefore, I am already wealthy in ways that go far beyond dollar signs. That, dear readers, is priceless.
Photo credits: george bailey-youtube; shirley temple-wkipedia