Museum Musings: the disappearing middle class and the 1%

If you wondered why I haven’t posted anything recently,  this is our busiest time of the year, and I come home too tired to even think of writing.

Mount Baldy covered with snow

I worked in the main store yesterday.

  • A few years ago if I said to a tourist, “I’m very sorry your card was declined,” I’d be given another card from a large stack in his/her wallet.  Now they quietly walk away, or choose one or two things, and pay for them with cash.
  • Several women came back to return stuff, “My husband didn’t like it,” they told me,  (what they really meant was, “My husband says we can’t afford it …”
  • I served one of the 1%. He paid for everything his family purchased with his black American Express card – it came to over $500 – and then he bought four bracelets at $250 each. He spent over $2,000.
  • When Christie told me she was from Singapore I asked her what her favorite foods are: Hainan chicken rice; Chilli Crab; Laksa Spicy Noodle. I can’t wait…
  • “I’ve been married for 36 year,” she said,  “Every Christmas my husband and I buy each other a book. So far we’ve only once bought each other the same book:  ‘Galileo’s Daughter‘.”
  • After a Chinese tourist bought the Degas statue we had language problems. With some pantomiming I understood he wanted a box.

Degas ballerina.

Thankfully the statue came in a very nice box, but I couldn’t understand what he wanted when he said “Introduction“.
One of the women with him showed me a dictionary entry on her cell phone: “Booklet of directions.”

“I’m very sorry,” I said to them, “I cannot understand what you need. There are no instructions with the statue… You take it out the box like this, and place it on the shelf like this.”

I don’t remember how we eventually worked out that they wanted information on Degas, the artist.  I’d love to know who did the English “translations” for their dictionary.

she told me she's had nails like this for many years

I worked in the Children’s Store today. Most kids aren’t getting gifts no matter how much they whine and plead, parents just don’t have the money.

  • “Oh look Mom,” said a little girl aged about six. “Here are some lovely children’s watches. Which one should I get for my collection?”
    “You’ve got enough presents for Chanukah. I’m not buying you a watch,” said her mom.
    “How much is this watch?” the kid asked me.
    “I’m not buying you a watch,” said her Mom.
    The little kid (I didn’t ask her name) took one of my books, put it on the floor and stood on it to show her Mother she wasn’t pleased.
    “Are you buying that book you’re standing on?” I asked her
    “I didn’t see it,” says she stepping off the book and putting it back on the shelf.
    Mom didn’t say anything.
  • “How much is this pencil?” the little boy asked. When I said, $1,09 (the amount with tax) he said, “What if I buy just one?”
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About dearrosie

We think we need so much, when all we really need is time to breathe. Come walk with me, put one foot in front of the other, and get to know yourself. Please click the link to my blog - below - and leave me a comment. I love visitors.
This entry was posted in Families don't you love them, Museum Musings, Photography, Tutto va bene and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

32 Responses to Museum Musings: the disappearing middle class and the 1%

  1. magsx2 says:

    Hi,
    It is a very busy time of the year for a lot of people, but it is great to finally catch up with a lot of people that we normally don’t see because of the distance.

    Times are hard just about everywhere I think, especially if you have lost your job, it certainly hasn’t been an easy year for a lot of people.

  2. Reggie says:

    Ah, Rosie, this was thought-provoking. A lot of us are feeling the same. Hugs!

  3. I have written several times about “A Hard Candy Christmas.” Whether one’s taste is Dolly Parton or not, many are hearing that song this month. Thank you for your take on this theme.

    • dearrosie says:

      Hi Georgette,
      thanks for reminding us of Dolly’s song “Hard candy Christmas”.

      written by: Carol Hall
      Original Appearance: The Best Little Whorehouse In Texas Soundtrack

      Lyrics :
      Hey, maybe I’ll dye my hair
      Maybe I’ll move somewhere
      Maybe I’ll get a car
      Maybe I’ll drive so far
      They’ll all lose track
      Me, I’ll bounce right back

      Maybe I’ll sleep real late
      Maybe I’ll lose some weight
      Maybe I’ll clear my junk
      Maybe I’ll just get drunk on apple wine
      Me, I’ll be just

      Fine and Dandy
      Lord it’s like a hard candy christmas
      I’m barely getting through tomorrow
      But still I won’t let
      Sorrow bring me way down

      I’ll be fine and dandy
      Lord it’s like a hard candy christmas
      I’m barely getting through tomorrow
      But still I won’t let
      Sorrow get me way down

      Hey, maybe I’ll learn to sew
      Maybe I’ll just lie low
      Maybe I’ll hit the bars
      Maybe I’ll count the stars until dawn
      Me, I will go on

      Maybe I’ll settle down
      Maybe I’ll just leave town
      Maybe I’ll have some fun
      Maybe I’ll meet someone
      And make him mine
      Me, I’ll be just

      Fine and dandy
      Lord it’s like a hard candy christmas
      I’m barely getting through tomorrow
      But still I won’t let
      Sorrow bring me way down

      I’ll be fine and dandy
      Lord it’s like a hard candy christmas
      I’m barely getting through tomorrow
      But still I won’t let
      Sorrow bring me way down

      I’ll be fine and dandy
      Lord it’s like a hard candy christmas
      I’m barely getting through tomorrow
      But still I won’t let
      Sorrow bring me way down

      ‘Cause I’ll be fine
      (I’ll be fine)
      Oh, I’ll be fine

  4. Sybil says:

    Rosie, here in Nova Scotia, the 99 cent pencil would be $1.14

    Love the Degas statue.

    • dearrosie says:

      HI Sybil,
      so many of our kids come to the museum expecting Walmart prices. (((sigh)))

      We still have the Degas statues in stock if you want to get one. They come in three sizes and not to worry they all come in a nice box 🙂

  5. souldipper says:

    Good to hear you took a rest, Rosie. I hope you blissed out!

    How do people manage life with long fingernails? Do they have people who do all sorts of things for them? If she is preparing any food for us, let’s ask if she scrubbed under those things! 😀

    Some poor boss is going to have to put up with that child when she’s old enough to be in the work force. But then…why would she have to work…?

    Are you going to Singapore to eat those dishes?? Or did you talk her into taking you home for dinner? 🙂

    • dearrosie says:

      Hi Amy,
      I didn’t manage to bliss out because I had to go to work every day, but I did get a nice long weekend off over Christmas and again this weekend. Woohoo 🙂

      The fingernails belong to one of the security guards at the museum. Even though I’ve eaten lunch with her many times I still can’t understand how she manages to cut her food with a knife and fork and hold her cup.

      I think it’s the parent’s fault. Perhaps next year they’ll decide to stop giving Chanukah gifts every night.

      I don’t know why but I’ve always had a hankering to go to Singapore. Coincidentally, the night before I met the woman I saw a show on the Travel Channel on what to eat in Singapore … LA’s so multicultural I’m sure there’s a restaurant here serving Singaporean food!

  6. It is so sad that the middle class is disappearing – it was the backbone of our country. We cannot stand up straight without it!

    As always I am impressed by the patience and grace with which you manage to handle communication problems. And it’s outrageous that the child’s mother did not reprimand her for standing on the book. If a someone in public corrected me my parents always made sure they drove the lesson home.

    Those nails belong up there with high heels as a ridiculous beauty statement! 🙂

    • dearrosie says:

      Hi Barbara,
      We’re all aware that the middle class is disappearing, but I don’t see that anything’s being done to stop it. What’s going to happen to this country once we’re extinct like the Dodo bird?

      It was interesting that the little girl’s mother didn’t stop her or say anything. I sometimes feel as if I’m a fly on the wall in their homes because people forget I’m there.

      I think when you wear false nails for a while that your nail bed dies… ugh!

  7. Val says:

    I’m afraid I’d probably have insisted that the mother pay for that book… and those nails! How on earth does a person do anything with nails like that? (Actually very long nails tend to make me shudder).

    Things are pretty much going pear shaped financially round the world… I expect we’ll survive, we humans do have a tendency to do that.

    • dearrosie says:

      Hi Val,
      I guess instead of asking the kid whether she was going to buy that book I should’ve directed my question to the mother!

      I don’t know how women with those long nails manage to do anything – even something as simple as getting their money out their wallets…

      It’s about time we rethink our lifestyles, for example, charging everything to “plastic” which we know we’ll never be able to pay off..

  8. Val says:

    My comment’s vanished again….

  9. I’m curious Rosie, what percentage of the museum visitors are foreign? More than 50%?

    I’m so sad about the story of the mother who paid no heed that her daughter was stepping on a book. It says so much about lack of respect. I was in line behind a family at the movies the other day and one child dropped a lollipop. A big lollipop. The parents saw what happened. The child didn’t pick it up, nor did the parents. I debated about saying something but didn’t and sure enough, the woman two behind me didn’t see the lollipop and stepped right in it.

    Enjoy your weekend off Rosie and Happy 2012.

    • dearrosie says:

      Hi EOS,
      Can’t give you percentages. There are many more Brazilian, Russian and Chinese tourists these days, we always hear Spanish, but I think it depends on the time of the year, for example, in August when the Europeans are on vacation we hear French all day with smatterings of Italian, Dutch, German. Why so much French? I don’t know, even the French have noticed and asked me why.

      I guess the woman behind you who stepped on the lollipop also didn’t pick it up…

      Happy 2012 to you too EOS.

  10. Cindy says:

    Happy 2012, Rosie, and thank you. xxx

  11. Arindam says:

    It was a thought provoking post. You must be dealing with lots of people who belong to different countries, who speaks different languages and who behaves differently. It’s a very challenging and interesting job for sure to deal with so many different people. But rather than asking you about the difference among these people, i want know, what are the similarity you find among these people, who belong to different region of this universe?

    Wish you a very happy new year! 🙂

  12. Priya says:

    I have recently grown fingernails after years (they don’t look anything like the ones in the picture, never fear) because it seems that I won’t be growing them again for many more years to come. So, I thought, why not do it once more like the good old college days. I am yet to paint them, though. That should be fun, deciding the shade.

    The Degas ballerina is officially on my must-have list. I normally don’t keep bric-a-brac on my shelves and tables, but she’s simply too special not to keep at home! And then, since there is no “Booklet of Directions”, I can breath in peace.

    Thank you for a wonderful post, Rosie. It took me long in coming here, but I am happy I did.

    • dearrosie says:

      Hi Priya,
      It’s always a pleasure to welcome you here. I know how busy you are.

      I’m always impressed when I hear that someone’s growing their finger nails. Well done Priya! What color nailpolish? I’ve always chosen “mail box” red polish but last month I decided to try a French manicure. Loved it!
      btw the nails in the picture aren’t real nails.

      I’m sure the Degas ballerina would look wonderful on shelf in your home. I can see it next to a vase of flowers from your beautiful garden.

      • Priya says:

        I like French manicure, too. This time, I waited for the right industrious mood to do some nail art like I used to when I was in college, but the mood never came. So I settled for “Fire Fox”, a shade of red, which is satisfyingly garish for my current state of mind.

      • dearrosie says:

        Oooh you’re one of those talented people who can do nail art? I selfishly hope the industrious mood does come to you and that you take photos of your nails. I’d love to see what you do.

        Fire Fox red…? hmmmm? ‘Amiable Amiable’ from “Big Happy Nothing” wanted to be a “crayon namer” when she grew up. We’ll have to get her over here to tell us what she thinks of the name Fire Fox to describe a red nail polish.

  13. Hi Rosie, I have seen you often at Priya’s with your deep insightful comments. And decided today it was time, to peep into your blog. I never would have imagined you work at a museum store (from your comments). I mean, I would probably be brain-dead after manning a counter all day. Is it mundane? I guess the store being in a museum brings a variety of visitors, which would make it interesting. But it’s got to be tiring smiling & being polite all day to strangers, no matter what they ask or say. I saw that you make the most of it by seeing a lot of unusual, interesting things, which make for interesting posts. Look forward to more!

    ( P.S. – I guess a job like this probably keeps one more in touch with reality than the ones spent behind a desk inside an office, shut off from the world. )

  14. dearrosie says:

    Hi AIT,
    I’m very honored that you noticed my comments at Priya’s blog and decided to pop over here. Welcome to my blog.

    From your comment I guess I’d win the prize at one of those “guess where she works” TV shows. There are so many people living here all of whom are competing for the few jobs and it’s not easy to get work in L.A. “without L.A. experience” (the Catch 22 problem) and too I’m not in my 30’s anymore, so I felt fortunate to get the Museum job.

    Yes it can be dull standing behind a cash register all day especially in slow periods like January-February when there are hardly any tourists, some of the questions can be irritating, and it’s awfully tiring having to stand all day, but perhaps because I’m a writer I’ve always enjoyed watching people, and I’ve learned that a bit of kindness and an ability to listen goes a long way.

    I visited your lovely blog. I’m impressed that you chose to be a stay at home mother even though you’re an architect. I too stayed home with my kids and I’ve never regretted it. I look forward to reading more of your posts.

    • Thank you for the wecome, Rosie. I didn’t mean to belittle your job. I am truly sorry if it came across like that. Thank you also, for the compliment but I feel my blog is anything but lovely these days. If you can find it in your heart to read more of my melancholic posts, I will be glad to have you over.

      • dearrosie says:

        Hi AIT
        Not to worry, I know you weren’t belittling my job, but were wondering why a university educated person such as myself was working as a cashier… This is the sign of the times over here in the U S of A.

        One of the new hires at the store – a young man in his late 20’s with a Masters Degree in Theater (acting and education) spent almost a year to get the job – and it’s only part time and temporary too. Nice kid.

        Put on the kettle I’m coming over for a visit.

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