Dear the “Talia Janes” of Silicon Valley
Life With Interest
302

Every young person wants to live in San Francisco (hell, I’m an old person and I want to live in San Francisco) and be trendy and hip and in the middle of a psychedelic dream. I actually had a dream of retiring there, but realized I couldn’t afford it.

My son and daughter went to school there. Son graduated (music degree), daughter did not. Son was frugal, daughter was not. Son is still there in his $800 a month basement studio in Ingleside, daughter had to come home to Michigan after blowing the remains of her college fund on a $2000/mo smaller place in Hayes Valley. Son is a tightwad, daughter thinks the world owes her what she thinks is a ‘decent’ lifestyle, a lifestyle my husband and I didn’t achieve until into our 40s. After hard work. Since we were both in our teens.

I was going to comment on Talia’s piece and ask her to come to Detroit. I would gladly pay someone with mad customer service skills what she made in Glitter City. She wouldn’t have comprehensive health care (I would DIE for a $20 copay, my insurance is THAT BAD), but she would have major holidays paid and vacation time. She can no longer buy a $500 house in Detroit, but $50K would bring you a mansion. In fact, I’ve got a couple of rental properties (2 bd/1 ba HOUSES) that I rent for less than $1000. I’ll have a hipster basement apartment 4x the size of my daughter’s Hayes Valley place that will be open in a couple of months for $700/mo utilities included. And hey, I’m a fairly reasonable employer. I must be, some people stay here for years. I, like most employers, really like go-getters, and will compensate for doing anything over 100%.

I’ve been thinking about Talia’s post on my trip home from SF yesterday. When I first read it, I was appalled. Yes, there are filthy rich people making scads of dough, and yes, there are the grunt workers. You can see the wide chasm between the homeless and the barely making it, and the making it and the uber rich, especially in San Francisco.

But what if people refused to pay extravagant money for tiny apartments, and instead tried a roommate situation? What if they bought coffee beans and made their own at home instead of going to Blue Bottle or Starbucks? What if they purchased food from farmers markets and made their own dinner instead of eating out or having Grub Hub deliver six days a week? And what if (especially in San Francisco, where the entire city is 7 x 7 miles - granted, up some pretty steep terrain, but I’ve seen little old ladies doing it) you walk to where you need to go instead of taking the Uber? Or even the train? What about having more than one job, even if it’s crummy? (Something I had to do in the 1980's. Worked at the post office, still had a part time job afterwards three days a week, because I needed to pay my mortgage. AND that’s with 2 roommates contributing. Maybe I got the work ethic from my parents. Each of them often had more than one job.)

And on the other side, so what if the CEOs are making big bucks? It’s their asses on the line. Yes, I make more in a year than most of my employees (with the exception of a few teachers who work for us part-time), but would Talia work remotely from San Francisco during her vacation? Would she take rabid customer service calls on her off time? At 10:30 at night, if it were an emergency? Would she work seven days a week (granted, on weekends not a full day, but that’s my schedule when I’m not away)? Would she clean the office toilet or mow the office lawn or cut the office bushes or pick up the trash in the parking lot? Most CEOs don’t do those menial tasks, only small business owners like ours do, but CEOs of huge companies are still responsible for more tasks than just what the average worker sees. There is insurance and attorneys and maintenance and lawn care, utilities, advertising, building costs, transportation, phone, internet, accountants, and more things than I can wrap my tiny little head around.

Bottom line is, I know that - for myself - if something happened, I’d be able to take care of myself. I’d take any job. ANY job. I’d be out there picking strawberries or making beds, even if it’s not the most glamorous thing in the world. A person is not the sum total of their job, but they do need one (or two) for the basics.

Whining is okay, though. Pity parties are best done quickly, then get to work.