A Message From An Unknown Author

I’m in the process of moving into an new apartment and I’m so happy about it. I slept there for the first time last night and I’ve rarely slept so well. I finally feel like I’m home. For the past year I’ve unhappily lived in a house with several other people. One of my roommates is named Aimee, and her parents own the place, which means it always felt like ‘her’ house – not mine. I never felt at home and I’m so glad to finally be out of there. My new apartment is extremely small, but it’s MINE. I feel so at home there already, and I’m not even moved in.

As I was moving out, I moved a bookcase out next to the street, and then decided that I didn’t want to take it with me, so I just left it there on the side of the road overnight. When I came back this morning, one of the scallywags from the public housing across the street had scribbled “rich people suck” in very large letters across it. I got tagged – BIG TIME.

I can’t be certain that the author was referring to the owner of the bookcase or if the bookcase was simply a convenient canvas on which to display a general observation. But I took it personally, feeling that the scallywag was implying that I was rich… and that I sucked. Setting aside the very real possiblity that I suck, I thought for a second about the implication that I am rich. Let’s consider the bookcase. It is one of those generic Wal-Mart bookcases made of cheap particle board with wood-grained stickers applied over the top to make it appear as if it was made out of expensive hardwoods. As is common, the backing is not wood at all, but cardboard tacked into the wood. I’m not the original owner, but I imagine the original retail price was about $40. Since it’s creation, however, it has been involved in at least one flood, much of the particle board has expanded (the way only particle board can when it gets wet) and much of the wood grain stickers have fallen off. The previous owner had thrown it to the curb, where I picked it up for free and carried it home. It is hardly the type of bookcase I would expect a ‘rich’ person to own, and in my opinion, owning a piece of furniture like this hardly qualifies someone as ‘rich.’

But perhaps the scallywag was more thoughtful than I originally thought. Perhaps he or she had actually seen me enter or exit the house previously and was familiar with many of my belongings. Perhaps he or she has been watching tenants parade all of their belongings in and out of the house every year as tenants come and go. Or perhaps the act of living in a house (as opposed to public housing) qualified me as ‘rich’ regardless of the quality of my bookcases. Perhaps the author knew that all of the tenants in this house were graduate students, medical students, one is even a practicing dentist. Maybe it was simply an obervation that I might have more than the author.

The more I reflect on the situation, I have decided to interpret the message as a well-intentioned reminder from a member of society of how blessed I am. In an attempt to humble myself, I choose to interpret the message as follows: Despite the poor condition of my bookshelf, I have still been quite blessed with many wonderful opportunities (and belongings), and I ‘suck’ for doing relatively little to help those around me enjoy the same quality of life.

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