The Bearer of Bad News


“Your out of pocket expense is going to be $11,000…for one year…after financial aid and loans.”

I’m talking to another high school senior who has applied to colleges without really knowing the cost of attendance or what their financial aid was actually going to look like.

I doubt they talked to their parents either.

This is the main part of my nonprofit job. To tell kid after kid that college is expensive and they should probably consider community college and taking out too many loans is bad and they should create a budget and get a job and I don’t know, be a different person living a different life.

Maybe living the life I had when I was their age.

A life where my dad worked and traveled and worked and asked me to stay at the out-of-state college I had gotten two scholarships at instead of transferring to the stupid, private school in-state that was triple the cost where I was given no scholarships. But no, that is not what I wanted and I didn’t care about the money because I didn’t have to, and I left without a second thought because he wouldn’t say no to me. I graduated without any debt and a bachelor’s degree in, as he once put it, “cooking and sewing”. Read: Radio Broadcasting.

And sure, maybe I took out the trash and washed dishes and made omelets for my classmates at Sunday brunch. Maybe I worked at the GAP and lived in a one bedroom apartment with two other girls and stayed at school to be a TA for one of my teachers.

But maybe I also ended up getting a job as an administrative assistant at a Nice Office Downtown because my dad pulled some strings.

Maybe I landed a salaried position right after school without any experience and was able to survive on $27,000 a year because I didn’t have student loan debt.

Perhaps one year and another job later I would move by myself into a one bedroom apartment in Andersonville for $750 a month (heat included) because that’s how it was in the early 2000’s.

And so on and so forth and so many failures and so many bailouts and so many moving back in with my parents and so many so many so many years of flittering from one nanny job to another getting paid cash and yelling to no one that I wouldn’t be caught dead behind a desk ever again.

All of the fucking self righteousness of a person with a cushy safety net waiting to catch her every time she decided to do something smart like not pay her credit cards, or cash out her retirement fund or stop paying for health insurance. A person who had credit cards, retirement funds and health insurance all before the age of twenty-five.

A reckless moron in her 30’s who went to bars early for the free drinks, who traded in CD’s for cash when she needed train fare, who couldn’t recognize the goodwill, charity and kindness of a single mom letting her live in her apartment basically rent free to occasionally watch her toddler or clean her make-up brushes for her side gig.

I got this non profit job because I had to take care of my own toddler. A non profit job where I go around town trying to help people who did not benefit the way I have the last forty years and feeling the kind of hopelessness that one does when they are of zero help and of zero consequence, yelling to no one that life isn’t fair but mostly not fair for other people.


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