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Living On The Cheap

To begin with, I've been in a Walmart a total of three times, emergency only. The Waltons don't need what little money I have. Here in the flyover zone we are awash in big box stores. They're all here, in profusion. My big box of choice is Costco, it's nearby and has agreeably low prices on things I use a lot - coffee, olive oil, toilet paper (although there can be storage issues with over-large packages). I understand there is some resistance to Costco in Ukiah, but it already has a Walmart, so if one must, one can choose.

And at Costco, one doesn't see the sub-human comic strip characters so many people apparently photograph at Walmart. That said, Costco is still a discount or "wholesale" business. Not meant for the rich. However, most of the customers there, with the huge carts, are not looking where they're going. It seems to be a thing here, in any crowded store, for people to rudely cut in front of others and then say "Sorry." Well, they're not. One woman in Costco comes charging into a main aisle, almost crashes into someone and says, "Oh, I'm so sorry. I wasn't looking." That is exceptional politeness.

It's like driving a car. Take nothing other drivers do for granted. So I take the same approach in Costco. My daughter remarked that upper classes shop for food at Whole Foods, the middle class at Trader Joe's. Costco is lower middle, if I were guessing. It is after all a big box store and as such affords no prestige to customers. But I did see a woman with an expression that belonged at Neiman Marcus, and I had to laugh. When I was a kid, Art Linkletter said "People are funny." It's not usually intentional, though.

There is no vanity at the dollar store. No one's kidding anyone. I go for basic cleaning supplies - disposable brooms, sponges, generic Q-tips.

It's commonly said that the social class you were born into is where you stay. Rags to riches is a song and even there it's a metaphor. The reality is rare. I have a rich friend in a far away place. He was of course born into it. As the emperor in the "Amadeus" movie said, "There it is."

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