I know I’ve said over and over how I love to ask questions. It’s how my brain puzzles things out. If I don’t have current data that provides an answer to my questions I go back in time to previous life experience to see how those experiences stack up to current questions.
I’ve also talked endlessly of how my brain is a number brain. I know some people are more art or color driven, as are many crafts people. My brain drills everything down to numbers. For example when I knit a cable pattern I just automatically think of each step as a number so my brain may say 3, 2, 3. I’m not thinking cable left or right and I’m surely not picturing the stitches all lined up as a photo in my head. It’s just a string of numbers and my hands do what the numbers stand for.
I often boil other things down to numbers too. These numbers stick in my head so later, for example when I go to buy gas I can say much to the surprise of The Husband that gas has gone up $.20 since last week or two weeks ago. He doesn’t have a number brain like I do. He often times can’t remember what he paid for gas just moving from the pump to the drivers seat. It’s just not how his brain works. He has a facts brain. He can remember facts which is really great when watching Jeopardy.
As I watch prices go up I am reminded of lessons I learned in the 1970s. In the 70’s when I was in junior high I first became cognizant of prices and the way people react as prices rise. Sure I’d seen Hershey bars go from $.05 to $.10 earlier than that but the price of a candy bar doesn’t have the reverberations of the price of home heating oil or food.
In junior high I had a friend named Mary. She was my first new friend at the school where all the kids of the same age attend. Mary lived across town so it wasn’t like we could just pop over and hang out. We used to spend a lot of time on the phone. That’s how we got to know each other. She was the oldest of three girls and her sisters loved to pick up the extension and listen to our conversation. Mary would yell to one of her parents to make them hang up.
One weekend I was invited to spend the night at Mary’s house. I packed up my pajamas, toothbrush and sleeping bag and my mother dropped me off with the instructions to behave and try to get some sleep. After hanging around and listening to music for a while we put on our pajamas. I was surprised to see that Mary and her sisters all wore sweatshirts over their pajamas. Mary offered me one of hers. She said her father would be turning the heat down when he went to bed so we’d be cold without them. At the time I didn’t think too much about it. I happily put the sweatshirt on and continued having fun. We probably slept about 3 hours that night. In the morning we ate cereal while watching cartoons and soon after my mother picked me up.
Sometime later I mentioned that Mary’s family wears sweatshirts to bed because they turn the heat down at night. I’m sure I mentioned it in passing because it didn’t seem like a big deal to me. My mother said that they were probably trying to save a little money because the price of oil had gone up. The thought fit with other comments Mary had made. We’d taken her out to dinner and she said she’d never eaten somewhere so fancy. Mary often commented on the clothes worn by the other girls. Clothes were never my thing, still aren’t, so the meaning was lost on me.
Like many junior high friendships we grew apart by high school each settling in with a different clique. I’ve thought about Mary and her sisters over the years. I learned a lot from our time as friends.
Around the same time I remember there being a story going around, I don’t remember if it was actually news or just a story, that elderly people were eating dog and/or cat food. I know at the time I was stunned by this. The thought of it was just unimaginable to me. Of course I asked my mother if it was true. Her answer was that you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do. I’d say she didn’t know if it was true or not but that if things got bad enough it could very well happen.
I never thought of myself as being a rich kid. We had what we needed and maybe a little extra. We felt the stagflation of the 1970’s just like everyone else but we were able to rearrange our budget and make more painless choices than other people had to make.
The people who are hurt the most in this kind of economic environment are those who live paycheck to paycheck and those on a fixed income. As prices rise decisions have to be made. Do you eat three meals a day or put gas in your car to get to work? Do you turn the heat down a few degrees to make that tank of oil last a few extra days? Do you visit the food pantry or eat dog food? When your rent or mortgage becomes too expensive do you move into your car? If people are having to make these types of decisions why are we promising Ukraine unlimited help in their war with Russia (including an additional $33 billion on top of the billions already approved) while Germany and other European countries continue to buy their energy from Russia there by financing the side they say they are against? I don’t understand but I suspect we are all being screwed, everyone from the citizens of Ukraine to the citizens of Russia to the citizens of Europe to the citizens of the USA. The ruling class is screwing us all.