Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Keeping it real

I find status a funny thing, especially the symbols of status.  You know, McMansion on the hill in the uppity suburb, brand new car every other year, the biggest big screen tv on the market....
I'm not into it.  All I see when I see someone with these things is a whole lot of debt.  And stress.  And unnecessary complication.  Always having to keep up with (and beat) the Jones' is a full-time commitment.  And not one for me.

Before the LOML and I moved out here we worked in the most affluent suburb of Brissy.  We've seen it all.  I can tell the difference between those people who actually have a hefty bank balance and those who try to convince me they do.  I'm not fooled.  You want to know the difference?  People who actually have the money rarely drive the brand new cars, rarely wear the latest brand label fashion and very rarely do they treat the people who serve them in shops like shit.  They are loaded, but you'd never know it from looking at them.  

The LOML tells the story of a fella he knew of, a property developer, who went into a Mercedes dealership in Brisbane to buy a new car.  To set the scene, this man is a millionaire, many times over.  He wasn't concerned with appearances - he started his business laying concrete so for him, work was hard and certainly not pretty.  He went into the dealership in his usual garb - no shoes, stubbie shorts and a jackie howe singlet (beer gut included).  He had with him his cheque book. 

The dealers were quite rude when he indicated he wanted to buy the car on the floor.  'Mate, there's a (cheap car dealership) up the road, you need to go there.'  After much...animated...discussion, Mr Property Developer walked out of that dealership without a new car.  He then got in a cab and drove to the Mercedes dealership on the Gold Coast, one and a half hours away.  In a cab.  At that dealership he bought brand new the latest model Mercedes (at that time a couple of hundred thousand dollars).  Paid for with the cash cheque he wrote out on the spot.

He then drove back to Brisbane in his brand new car, straight to the dealership that had fobbed him off, still wearing no shoes, stubbies and a singlet, and told them off (he had the language of a concreter so you can only imagine what was said!).  Needless to say those dealers learnt a very valuable lesson that day - you don't need to be flashy to have cashy.

The LOML and I don't have that sort of money - I doubt we'll ever be in a position to walk into a car yard of any kind and pay cash for a brand new car (unless we win lotto but even then we still wouldn't buy brand new!) - but we also don't aspire to be seen to have that sort of money.  We have no desire to impress people we don't like with things we don't need bought with money we don't have.  

We drive old, second-hand cars that are in desperate need of a service.  We watch the news on a ten year old, non-flat-screen, K-mart telly.  We live in what is considered in this town to be the worst suburb of all of them (when people new to the area walk into real estate agent offices to buy a house and ask where not to buy, our suburb is it).  But we don't care.  For us this stuff isn't important.  

Sure our neighbourhood is populated by people who are (well) known to  police for a variety of home and property offences but our theory is that these people aren't stealing from us, their neighbours (who they know, like them, don't have much of anything of worth).  No, they are over in the 'rich' suburbs stealing from people who live in big houses with big screen tvs, new luxury cars and every technological gadget you can think of.

So what is the point of my story?  I don't really know.  Other than an attempt to convey to the world that I don't do the status symbol thing.  I don't care to have the latest fad, the biggest house, the newest car. I certainly don't care for the large debt that seems to accompany it.  I don't feel the need to impress people who think they are important.  I don't need their good opinion of me.

I'd much rather (though I seem to complain endlessly about it!) our old house, my creaky needs-the-CVs-done Camry, my five year old jeans, the camping stove instead of the cooktop....  I'd much rather the company of our friends - good people who work hard and don't care for 'things' - good food, good times, no pretentiousness.

Every now and then I need to remind myself what is important, what I want and more importantly, what I don't want.  :) 

I really do have too much time on my hands.  I'm spending waaayyyy too much time thinking about stuff and life and that.  I need to get out and do something to keep my mind busy, to lighten up a little and not be so serious!


  1. Maybe you should go out and pick some of that kiwi fruit you have growing in your backyard. That ought to keep you busy for a little while.

  2. Ooooh you are reading my mind!

    Last night I got in a wrote a list of things I could be doing and high on the list is the kiwi fruit! Now I really have to go and do it....:)

  3. This is a great post, and reflects my sentiments perfectly. I live and work in a region where everyone is always trying to better everyone else. I think it's really sad, and I feel sorry for these people because clearly their lives have little joy. All I want from life is a cozy home and a loving family - I'll make do with whatever money happens to come my way. ;)

  4. Thanks Sorcha. Sometimes I feel like I'm banging my head against the wall when I'm talking to people. It's nice to know there are like-minded people out there :)


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