My work has taken me on visits to a lot of classes. The thing that I have noticed is that a poor person will have zero idea what to do with a 401K should they get one. A rich person will have no idea how to cash a check if they don’t have a bank account. It’s a completely different skillset with disparate goals and values and norms. It is definitely a different culture.
For example: You need to score some illicit drugs. How do you do that? Rich answer: Ask your assistant. Middle-class answer: Ask your teenager. Poor answer: Walk outside.
I’ve been there. I can consider myself fortunate that I’ve been able to let go of most vices, most wants, and am able to go for long stretches of time without actual employment.
But a big part of that is thanks to the middle-class trappings of my lower-class life. I live in a house with a full kitchen, laundry room, all utilities; all for a ridiculously low price. Were I renting an apartment by myself, I’d be working two jobs just to be able to pay rent, nevermind having the time to cook at home and go to the movies every so often.
I am fortunate to know how people of all social walks have lived, having been exposed to all of them at least briefly throughout my life. I know how to deal with rich people without having them try to own me. I know how to interact with middle class people in a fair manner. I know how to hustle with the poor like one of them — I know I’m poor but I try to afford myself the luxury of not feeling poor. Feeling poor saps your body of energy, robs your mind of steel and your spirit of joy.
But I can attest to the knowledge that it is hard to look at the stars while your back is bent toward the ground.
Subtitled “the invention of the American meal,” Three Squares is an engaging and eye-opening look at the economic and cultural forces that have shaped the country’s shifting formats of consumption over time — and, in turn, the changing meanings and value judgments that Americans have attached to those eating patterns.
As a child of two countries, I can attest to the differences in food culture even when both of those countries are neighbors, but derive from completely different source cultures.
In Mexico, born of Spain and the old Mexica empire it, the food schedule is something like this:
Breakfast varies by family and, when heading out on your own as an adult, by person. Some eat heavy breakfasts, others keep it extremely light.
Lunch again varies by family and individual, mostly depending on work/school schedules. Usually kept to a single protein-based entree.
Dinner is in the late afternoon. It’s the one time the whole family sits down and interacts, usually over two or three courses (soup, entree, dessert).
Supper (usually known as the cena is usually kept light, owing to the fact it is usually eaten one or two hours before bedtime. Usually sweet bread and milk.
In my experience in both countries, it has been lunch that has been influenced the most by Mexico’s imitation of the cultural mores of the United States. For children and teenagers, lunch is usually had during recess at school. For adults, it varies wildly depending on the job and the availability for time, like breakfast.
Now, in the US, it usually goes like this:
Breakfast is usually two courses (fruit, protein) accompanied by juice and/or coffee.
Lunch again varies by family and individual depending on school/work schedules Schools try to have two courses on a single tray, while most adults go for a single entree.
Dinner is late in the evening, with three courses always called for (soup or salad, entree, dessert).
Supper is mostly a snack.
Mind you, these is what I remember from my own family experience. Being of Mexican origin, my elders tried to keep the schedule mostly the same but things had to change by necessity and adaptation of the social mores of our new adopted home.
Annette Lareau, a sociologist at the University of Pennsylvania, argues that the affluent also enjoy an advocacy edge: parents are quicker to intervene when their children need help, while low-income families often feel intimidated and defer to school officials, a problem that would trail Melissa and Angelica in their journey through college.
Isn’t this what is happening in Mexico?. Even when I was going to school, teachers were complaining they had to inculcate and instill basic skills, knowledge and culture to kids, when those kids should have gotten the memeplex implanted into them at home.
These days I’m sure the situation is even worse, and the average school in the Mexican public school system is much worse than that of the poorest school in the American school system.