Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Rich girls

If you wanted to park a car in one of the garages at my school, you had to pre-pay for the year. I had a car my first year of grad school because I didn’t realize how convenient the train to visit The Husband would be, and so I had to make this giant $800 payment by August 1, before I even started grad school. I remember calling to ask about the cost of parking. The woman on the phone told me it would be $89 a month. “But I can pay that month by month, right?” I asked her, assuming that the answer would be yes.

“No,” she told me, with the air of someone dealing with a complete idiot. I’m pretty sure I could hear her eyes rolling through the phone lines. “You have to pay for it all up front.”

“I can’t pay month by month?” I asked, a bit stunned. Why did I have to pay all at once? I got paid month by month. I could afford $89 per month on my stipend, but they didn’t give me the stipend in one lump sum at the start of the year. And fresh out of putting myself through college, I wasn’t exactly rolling in ready cash.

The woman on the phone, however, acted as though paying monthly for a service was the most ludicrous idea she had ever heard. “No! It’s prepaid for nine months!” she snapped. “Do you want me to reserve you a spot or not?”

“Well, I guess so,” I told her, since it was either that or arrange to have my car hover over the graduate housing when not in use. I spent the rest of the summer working at minimum wage to save up the $800. And fine, it didn’t kill me. I still was able to have fun that summer.

But for many of the undergrads at this school, coming up with parking money was not a problem. I went to a state university for undergrad, and there was quite a difference in overall population at the two schools. Of course there were some well-to-do students at the state school and of course there were some financially struggling students at my grad school, but in general the kids at my grad school were rich kids.

The Doktah, who also put her own self through college via a combination of scholarships and living off of lima beans for a semester (but she made it through loan-free), was behind one of these rich kids in line to pay for her parking for the year. The girl in front of The Doktah had some sort of argument with the woman at the window about whether she still owed money. “My father has already paid this,” she said, vehemently. “I can call him right now, if you want,” she added, apparently thinking this would strike terror in the hearts of all.

“I don’t really care,” said the cashier. “All I know is that your bill hasn’t been paid.”

“Fine!” snotted the girl, and she whipped out her cell phone. She got a hold of her father and said, “Daddy, this woman at the parking office says that I still owe $100!” There was a pause. “But, Daddeeeeee!” she whined. Another pause and then “Fine! Whatever!” and she slammed down the phone. Or she would have slammed down the phone, except that it was a cell phone. Instead, she just jabbed angrily at the “End” button. Then she pulled out her checkbook.

Yes, that girl is different from me. Or is it different than? I can never remember that one.

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