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Thursday, December 10, 2015

The Bourgeois Ghetto

Hello dear readers!

Today was a busy day. Last week, my husband was called into a job interview for some kind of inventory management position, and yesterday the company called him in today for a second interview. I was hopeful, since getting a second callback meant that he'd passed the initial background checks and that the blackball the CIA put on him all those years ago is beginning to lift and crack apart.

The company office is located clean on the other side of town from where we live. I knew this area, as I had lived nearby during my last two years of college. Across the street from the corporate park where the company's office was located was a well-to-do strip mall. While my husband did his interview, I went across the street to the mall to pass the time and walk around for a bit.

One of two or three fountains at the mall

It did not hit me until I started walking around the mall, with its artsy-fartsy boutiques and eateries, just how ghetto I'd become. I felt very out of place due to my low socioeconomic status, as well as my blue jeans and Tux the Linux Penguin t-shirt, compared with the other shoppers and diners with their business casual attire. While there were nice fountains with rose gardens and places to sit in the courtyards, the whole place was just so manicured, it made me wince. At some point, the pursuit of perfection becomes an obsession with a facade. That point was driven home further as I walked past a sign set in front of the stairs to the second floor, advertising various plastic surgery specials from the clinic upstairs.

I've been away from my old bourgeois life for three years, and now as I walked around this mall, I was reminded why I stayed away from it. The image-heavy focus of the mall's wealthy clientele was overwhelming. I was surprised that nobody had set up loudspeakers pulsing the phrase "it's all about appearances" throughout the mall like the way dystopian thrillers have PAs droning the party's lines all day to the subjects.

Fortunately, nobody seemed to care that I was there, pushing the baby in her stroller around the mall. I did see a few families with small children walking around in and out of the stores. I walked around the stores and browsed the wares, though even if I had money, I never would have paid the price amounts they were asking. They weren't really in my taste either. Most of my time was spent in a Native American shop, as I misunderstood the "Indian" in the store's name, and chatted with the proprietor about the various Native goods in the shop and the baby. I was amused to see the model papooses she had for sale.

When my husband was finished, I went back to the office park across the street from the bourgeois mall. The company told him they'd contact him next week once they talked to management. In addition to his long hair, which he agreed to cut as a condition upon hire, he brought his hardy sippy cup with him and it gave the staff conniptions because it looks dingy on the outside. I thought what the company was doing with my husband by stringing him along like this was absurd, but because it's an inventory job, they apparently put appearances above everything else a candidate might bring to the table in terms of experience and skill. Just like the mall across the street, the company was ALL ABOUT APPEARANCES! This whole area, with its wealth, was a bourgeois ghetto. Unlike my ghetto, where people maintain at least some semblance of community because poverty makes that happen, this area used its money to build up a cultural wall to keep the "undesirables" away.

As we drove home, I thought about our experiences in the area today. Prior to our trip here, we went to noon Mass at the Cathedral where the deacon gave a sermon on how wrong it is to judge people by appearances. It seemed that God was telling us something with our trip to the bourgeois ghetto. Either He did not approve of us being in this place either, or it was a call to be more charitable towards others. We'll just have to wait and see how this plays out. In the meantime, I'll stick to my ghetto. At least I feel at home there.

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