The Short-End of High End
I have my father’s dreams and my mother’s taste. This means I have to work really really hard. In more obvious ways, like with my career interests, I’m more like my father. But at the same time, many significant areas of my life are shaped by my mother. It’s actually quite interesting to think of the contradictions of my personality stemming from the vastly different characters of my parents.
Contradictions aren’t always negative. In many ways they balance us out. But there are some contradictions that are worth looking into, the kind that are so obvious we miss them completely.
I noticed a contradiction lately. I first noticed it at the Furnitalia showroom checking out the Poltrona Frau pieces. The salesman, or better, the evangelist, started sharing the gospel of high-end furniture. First he started with the history, and then he went on about how they make the leather seats for Ferrari. (He probably mentioned this two billion times – ok I’m exaggerating. But just a little.) Of course he ended with what all expensive brands say, “Think of this as an investment.”
This contradiction came up again while walking through Greenbelt.
I saw a pair of shoes, and not just any pair, the kind that calls out to you, the kind that knows your name. While waiting for them to bring out my size, I looked at the salespeople, and I remembered the furniture salesman.
Here’s the contradiction that entered my mind: None of these people will ever enjoy any of these. Here they are selling, no, preaching the benefits and the superiority of their product, but they will never enjoy any of it.
I tried putting myself in the shoes of a salesman in a high-end shoe store, and I tried to imagine what his life might be like: Single, hoping to save enough marry the love of his life who’s studying to be a nurse, at the same time putting younger siblings to school, and taking care of an aging mother. Professionally, he’s a talented salesman, with sales quotas, commission levels, and probably receives a base salary of P8000.00/month ($200/month). Now if I were this man, and I had to wake up to the prospect of serving some brat as he or she spends my one year’s earnings in half an hour on shoes, all the while enduring the demands, and criticisms when a size or color is lacking, I honestly don’t think I’d last.
And that’s on a good day.
Some people might ask, “Why don’t they find another job?” There is no other job. And if there is one, it’s either a job he’s not fit for, or a similar low-paying, not to mention thankless, post. While class divides are present all over the world, the disparity, abuses, and dangers seem to be more evident in third-world nations. I think this is especially sad since none of this is new. I don’t remember how many studies on poverty and class differences we were required to read back in college. This is old. It’s so old, we miss it. To me that’s the dangerous part: we don’t see it anymore. Well maybe we do see it, but what do we do about it?