Is it just me, or do you notice an increase in “wealth management” commercials lately? Wait. It’s probably me. I didn’t notice them before since I own nothing to speak of/have no discernible wealth to manage. Considering the last advert I saw, catering to clients ranging from extremely affluent to ultra-high net worth, (otherwise known as stinkin’ rich) it’s no wonder I didn’t pay attention. Now, if there was advertising designed to reach folks labelled as impoverished, dirt poor, or penniless, I’d be apt to listen up.
Money’s always been an issue for me. When my children were little we looked forward to summer holidays in Manitoba, but gas was expensive. In order to finance this trip we’d spend evenings and weekends picking bottles for the necessary cash. It wasn’t so bad. With a ball cap pulled low over my eyes, and sporting an old discarded jacket of Dad’s, I’d slop through ditches in a pair of rubber boots; my identity hidden.
However, my kids were not as enthusiastic, and often suffered the profound sort of embarrassment as can only be felt by young teens. Who wants to be defined as a family that pilfers through the refuse of society for cast-off five cent pop bottles?
One day, as we skulked through the overgrown grass of a ditch near their school, my eldest son Chris, who had been lagging behind, stared at an approaching car, stiffened to attention and then threw himself prostrate into the weeds.
“Get down you fools,” he hollered. “That’s the principal’s car! HIDE!”
But it was too late. The sleek gray Buick slowed as it neared our position and crunched to a halt in the gravel close by. Rolling down a window, the man leaned across his console and addressed me with concern as I stood in a patch of thistles holding a grimy box of Pilsner beer.
“Excuse me. I’m wondering if your son Chris is alright. He’s lying in the grass about fifty feet back, clutching an empty bottle of vodka.”
“Hahaha, yes he’s fine,” I hastened to assure the man, as a sudden image of me cowering before the court on charges of child endangerment crept through my mind. Making matters worse, I caught sight of eleven year old Rebecca behind me with a crushed can of Labatt’s Blue in her hand.
“He’s just tired,” I assured the man once more.
He smiled, clearly unconvinced. Reluctantly he motored off, watching us closely in his rear-view mirror.
Another time, a car-load of older teenagers roared past me on the road. I could hear one yell, “Here lady,” as they screeched to a stop, lowered the window and tossed an empty to the curb.
There’s nothing that says “bag lady” quite as well as the sight of a woman eagerly scuttling across the road to pick up a ten cent pop can and shove it in her sack. Sigh.
Yes, I’m no stranger to money troubles, but consider all the wonderful things I have: beloved family and friends, the symphony of frogs I hear through my bedroom window late at night, the scent of sheets having blown dry in a prairie breeze on my bed and the joy of unearthing the first crocuses of spring beneath the prairie wool near my home.
I’m rich after all.