I had a conversation yesterday with a guy in my church who is worried about losing his house.
It came up pretty naturally, I asked how he was doing and he said "Well, other than I might lose my house, great." He explained how he and his wife and his kids got into the situation, which isn't terribly relevant but you'd be sympathetic if I told you.
"Ya know," I said, "My impression is that the mortgage companies aren't in any hurry to take houses. The last thing they need is another one. If you call yours up, you might be able to work something out."
He allowed as to how he was planning to do this and someone else he knew had made a deal with a mortgage company that would work for him and he hoped he would be able to do something similar. I said I hoped so too.
At that point, a lady who had been nearby chimed in with how she was dealing with HER debt. The whole time I was fighting the urge to pull out my checkbook. But what theCSO and I have to spare isn't enough to help anyway and I'm defining "spare" somewhat loosely in that context anyway. The conversation didn't go on too much longer than that, but we talked about the tough economic times and how they were affecting the people we knew. I feel closer to those two people now than I ever have before.
This is one thing I don't get about the whole "class within UUism" debate. People draw those "white collar vs. blue collar" lines with such enthusiasm, but as far as I can tell, a lot of the problems are the same or similar when we actually start talking to each other. Especially in this economic climate. A law firm in my area has had six rounds of layoffs. Tell me white collar folks and blue collar folks don't have something to talk about these days.
I read on another blog about people saying that questions like "what do you do for a living?" and "where do you live?" make people who have less classy jobs and live in less classy neighborhoods feel insecure. I have no idea what to do about this because as far as I know, this is not intellectual snobbery, this is the human condition. I have a job that requires brains but not a college degree and I live in an unremarkable neighborhood in a nice zip code. There are lots of people I know with fancier jobs and houses and lots of people with less fancy jobs and houses.
The point isn't who does what and lives where as a matter of social rank, the point is that I know at all what they do and where they live because it gives us things to talk about and local concerns to discuss and bond over. We have to know something about the lives that our fellow congregants are living to really connect with them.
Besides, I bet if your answers to those two questions are "I'm a tax lawyer to the wealthy" and "I live in the fanciest neighborhood in town," half the listeners are thinking "I bet you don't get any time with your kids and you WAY overpaid for your house."