I’m planning my high school reunion. It’s the 20thâ€”probably not as big as the 10th, but big enough. Thus far, I’ve been paid by about 140 people, which is pretty darn good. Planning a reunion, I’ve learned the hard way, is really a pain in the arse. Chasing people down. Stalking out checks. Reminders, reminders, reminders.
I digress. My reunion costs $100. It’s at a nice hotel, includes dinner, DJ, four-hour open bar. The price is fair for the return, and I consulted with several people before settling on it.
That said, it’s been a real eye-opener.
We’re living in a terrible economy. It’s been said and said and said again, and it’s undeniably true. For me, however, the real eye-opener has been this reunion. I’ve come across a solid handful of people who want to attend … are planning on attending … will certainly attend, but, well, is it OK if the $100 comes a little late, because I’m living paycheck to paycheck right now? Every time I hear this I’m hit with an elbow to the gut. I live a comfortable life. Been watching the money tighter than usual, but relatively comfortable nonetheless. Attending a reunion for $100 isn’t a great hardship.
And yet, for many, it is. Times are terrible. Beyond terrible. If you’re not struggling right now, imagine what it’s like. Hoping a check clears. Itching for more work. For any work. Embarrassed having to tell your kids no to a much-needed new pair of kicks.
Just a cold, dark time in this country.
PS: A side storyâ€”on the night of January 18, 2002, I was walking down a street in Manhattan, heading for my pre-wedding rehearsal dinner. I looked down, and there was a $100 bill on the sidewalk. Picked it up, brought it home, still have it. Saw it as a good omen for my marriage.