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Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Class

Immediately before the start of a shift I usually get a lot of sleep. This is during the transition from being awake during the day to being up all night. I usually go to bed around 2:00 in the morning that last night off and force myself to sleep until almost 1:00 the next afternoon. (The rest of the rotation I will be sleeping only four to five hours each day.)

I tend to wake up a lot during this extended downtime, and that means more remembered dreams. Yesterday was no exception. But this was an especially odd dream: it was a dream about class distinctions.

In the dream I had teamed up with two of my friends. One of them, a handyman of sorts in real life, had gotten us a job working for the super-rich elite set in Nanticoke. Now, just to be clear: there is no super-rich elite set in Nanticoke. Not even close. But in the dream there was, and they were all gathered in a semi-secret party in one fairly unassuming house.

I don't remember what sort of work we were supposed to be doing in the dream. I don't remember interacting with any of these Nanticoke Brahmins. I just remember looking at them, engaged in their idle entertainments, untroubled by all the economic distress in the outside world. And I wondered what that must be like.

I suppose in the real world there are people who are untouched by the economic downturn. Every so often there will be a news story about some minor privation experienced by the richest of the rich. But there is probably some class beyond even them whose members are blissfully unaware of the sufferings of anyone else. What strings do they pull? What role do they play in the affairs of mortal men?

Once a friend and I mused that the exact position of every individual in society can be specified with a proper application of the notions of "upper," "middle," and "lower" class. Someone may be "middle class," but they may actually be in the "upper middle class," more specifically the "lower upper middle class"...and so on. Until recently I fancied that I was somewhere around the lower upper middle class myself; I had a comfortable amount of money, and I was able to spend it as I pleased. But in the last few years my fortunes have changed, and now I find myself in the lower middle class - or, perhaps, the upper middle lower middle class. That, of course, is subject to change.

Where would you place yourself on such a series of class striations? And in today's economic climate, where it is all too easy to slip down through the strata, what would it take to move up a few levels?

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