Sunday, December 21, 2014

In which Primo and I read "Crossing the Tracks for Love" and discover a lot about Sly

Have you ever read A Framework for Understanding Poverty, by Ruby Payne? If you haven't, you should. It is fascinating. I found out about it on my favorite blog, Ask A Manager, which is the source of so many good things in addition to great job advice.

Well, Dr Payne has written another book about marriage with someone from a different socio-economic class and I understand my differences with Primo a lot better.

Doesn't make them any easier to deal with. But I understand them.

Primo always maintains that my family was poor, which we were not, but we certainly were not affluent. Primo's family had money for away vacations. We spent our vacations camping. Primo's family went out to eat. Mine did not. Primo's father was a highly-degreed professional. My father had a BA, but he did not have a PhD. Both of our fathers and mothers were the first ones in their families ever to go to college.

Primo's dad had, from the outside, a higher-status job than my dad, or at least I think that's how most people would view it. Most people, I think, do not  think too highly of military people - there is this idea that the only reason someone joins the military is because he is too stupid to do anything else. Sly was a college a professor, my dad was a maintenance control officer. I am sure Sly would think he was higher on the social scale than my dad was, but the reality of it is that Sly was a professor at a 4th-tier school, so he can't really brag on that.

(The other reality is that my dad's students, whom he had taught for less than one semester, liked him so much that they held two bake sales so they could buy a yearbook for him and send it to him after he was diagnosed with cancer and back in the US for treatment. The other reality is that there were people who bought last-minute plane tickets so they could fly across the country, holding a ham in their laps, to attend my dad's funeral. After Primo and I attended the funeral of the father of a good friend of ours and found it to be standing room only, Primo said, "I don't think anyone will go to my dad's funeral." Probably not, unless they just want to make sure he is dead. I know that's why I will go.)

What I am getting at: even though Sly spent his career in a more refined atmosphere than my dad and certainly making more money than my dad ever did, he never picked up on middle class values or actions. He retained the worst of poverty, whereas my dad conducted himself with grace and dignity.

To wit - here are some examples from the book of poverty behavior that I have seen in Sly but never saw in my father. (My father was never abusive to my mother. He never made her cry. He never yelled at her that she was stupid. Man, I cannot stand Sly. He is so mean.)

Frank [Ruby's husband, who came from poverty] took a lot of heat in his old neighborhood for marrying me. One time somebody said to him in front of me, "You need to send that girl back to school for a class in obedience."

Remember how Sly told Primo he needs to "get your wife in line?"

If you're from poverty and marry into middle class, expect that your spouse may have difficulty understanding the amount of money and time you give to help your friends. The middle-class assumption is that your friends should be self sufficient and plan ahead for emergencies. Some of these feelings may also apply to family, especially extended family.

Amen. Sly and Doris seem to expect Primo to fly to their side for any problem. They don't seem to think it is their responsibility to figure out and plan for their future. Primo can take care of it.

If you're making the transition from poverty to middle class, here are some of the mindsets and issues that will need to be addressed: 

Jokes and comments about sexual activities are not acceptable in the workplace or at middle-class social events.

Your mother does not have more say-so in your life than your spouse.

Crisis making, clutter, and confusion are frowned upon in middle class.

If you have read much of this blog, then you know that Sly and Doris violate all of these rules.

NB Very interesting to read the middle-class to wealthy info - I would completely fail in that world. I did not know you are not supposed to introduce yourself to a rich person - that you are supposed to wait to be introduced. Interesting, but useless, as I will never be moving into that class. Oh well.


1 comment:

  1. Ohhh Goldy! Ur PIL cannot hold a candle to my FIL! I promise. He is so typical of what u describe above. Got money but no class. Just crass. Get this - he talks to me about my body everytime we meet. Yes. My body!! Ohh ur so hot. Oh u r looking fit and fine! Ohh u had a baby but ur body is looking well. Father in law ie Father. U cannot even imagine the agony and mental prep I do when we visit.And the son u ask - oh he sticks up for him. Doesnt wanna get disinherited u know. So meh. Ewwwwwwwwww

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