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    Medium | Merci Victoria Grace | 2/2/19 | 7 min
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    • bill
      Top reader of all timeScoutScribe
      5 months ago

      This essay is insightful, candid and real. I can completely relate, though my class-trajectory is shaped like an upside-down U, whereas Merci's trajectory is completely up-and-to-the-right. (Hell yeah for her!) I went from middle-class to very high-class and then down to very low-class. The last few years, in particular, have been really high and really low.

      I grew up working hourly-wage jobs whenever I wasn't in school. Stanford changed everything. It was like a vortex. In my freshman year, I wore a shirt with an illustration of a bear (UC Berkeley) pumping gas for a Tree (Stanford) as though it was somehow dishonorable to be pumping gas?! I guess that means that 19-year old Bill would not have approved of the 30-year-old Bill who worked at a rural gas station for a few years, literally pumping gas, and completely loved it.

      There’s a specific mundane situation I repeatedly find myself in: someone in my current social class assumes that I work at whatever store or restaurant we’re both in.

      That sentence screams at me because it happens to me constantly. So much so that I'm used to saying, "Oh, I don't work here, but I can probably help you."

      Earlier today, I push-lifted a person in a wheelchair onto a public bus. I pick up hitchhikers regularly. A few weeks ago, I picked up one that told me: "You know what normal means? It means you lost everything about you that makes you unique." A few days ago, I picked up one that was wearing a hoodie that was soaked in blood. He had just jumped off a moving train, afraid that he was being chased, so I got him to the care he needed.

      I live in a constant state of "class vertigo." On a daily basis, I catch myself reflecting on whether or not I'm poor or rich. On a good day, I remember that those words, like all words, are completely dependent on context. On bad days, I fall for the illusion that I'm solidly one or the other (rich or poor) and so I feel guilty and stupid about not being the other thing.

      I like the way that Merci connects helpfulness with class. I have definitely noticed that people with less money are so much more helpful than rich people. I realize that that's a generalization, but at this point it feels more dishonest to not say it because I see it so often, so clearly, all day every day.

      • jeff
        Reading streakScribe
        5 months ago

        That T-shirt with the mascots says so much. What a crazy thing!

        • bill
          Top reader of all timeScoutScribe
          5 months ago

          Lol. Yep. “Crazy” is def the word.

      • jbuchana
        Scout
        5 months ago

        I have definitely noticed that people with less money are so much more helpful than rich people

        You're not the only one who's noticed this. From the lyrics of Proud Mary:

        You don't have to worry 'cause you have no money, People on the river are happy to give

    • Jessica5 months ago

      It never occurred to me to have someone else do the work so I could do something seemingly more important behind a desk. The fastest way to learn was to experience the workflow I was trying to digitize, so that’s what I did.

    • jbuchana
      Scout
      5 months ago

      A great article. I've definitely noticed that people treat me differently depending on the role they see me playing. I've been everywhere from near, but not quite, homeless to having more money than I could use myself. It makes a big difference in relationships, I don't feel that it should though.

      • bill
        Top reader of all timeScoutScribe
        5 months ago

        Yeah, upvote this:

        It makes a big difference in relationships, I don't feel that it should though.

    • Pegeen
      Scribe
      5 months ago

      Love this article. What inspiration within it’s story. Money is a very charged subject, right up there with religion and politics. There seems to be a real conflict associated with “having” money - almost like it’s something to be ashamed of. Making generalizations about people is part of the global problem of separation - of comparison. It engenders all kinds of low energy thoughts of jealousy, anger - even hatred. I prefer to take people on an individual basis because I really have no idea who they are or what they actually contribute to society. We judge, we think we know but that is far from the truth. I don’t think it’s black or white. - there’s a lot of grey. I have had very little money and then more than enough money. And within those two extremes, I have remained someone who loves to help, who gets confused for a sales person, who easily converses with all kinds of people, who never feels “better than” someone else. Because some, who don’t have money, can feel superior to those who do, as if being poor is more noble. Money is not evil - it’s a means of exchange on this planet. I love the freedom and opportunities that money affords. The burden it lifts from my mind. I respect money, use it wisely, generously and gratefully. I personally feel that it’s always the intent behind anything that’s what is at issue.

    • Plum5 months ago

      This is good! I too have been a part of many classes over the years. Hands down I have learned most from the working class. I want to think more about why that is.

      • bill
        Top reader of all timeScoutScribe
        5 months ago

        Yay, Plum! Thanks for posting. With our powers combined, we put this in the Top 10! I hope it keeps going because I’d love to know what others think about the connections between class and helpfulness.

        Hands down I have learned most from the working class.

        It’s a mystery, but I think it has something to do with the fundamental essence of being human: survival.