Musing on class…

Musing on class privilege, visible and invisible. We're filing a tax appeal, and having a lawyer do it, and it needs to be notarized. I noticed the time at 4:45, jumped in my car, drove a few blocks to the free Oak Park township notary, found 25 cent parking right outside (even though it's the center of town), stepped in at 4:50, found no line, and had it signed and notarized and was out the door before they closed at 5, no problem. Then I drove a few more blocks to the UPS store, walked in and was helped immediately, had a cheerful employee chat with me while he simultaneously loaded up my ten different things that I needed mailed AND took care of other customers on another register, so no one had too long a wait. He remembered me from the last time I mailed a bunch of books out, a few months ago, and asked about the Kickstarter. I was home by 5:30, in time to start dinner.

Signs of privilege:

- we own a house, hence the tax appeal
- we can afford to pay a lawyer his $50 filing fee and his significant percentage on whatever he gets us in reduction. If we couldn't afford that, we've have to struggle to try to figure out how to file the appeal ourselves -- which we could do, and in fact, have done, but it takes time, and education, and patience that hasn't been worn thin by a thousand other small aggravations
- I had a car, so I could get where I wanted to go quickly; I wouldn't have made it in time if I'd had to walk. - of course, if I'd started ten minutes earlier, I could have walked there, because we can afford to live so close to the heart of town
- the notary was free -- I'm guessing the city of Chicago doesn't provide free notary service. There's also a free notary at the library, but you need to make an appointment for that one
- the notary didn't have a line in front of them -- when we lived in Chicago, there would totally have been a line, *especially* just before closing at 5, as people would try to squeeze it in after leaving work a little early
- the notary's hours are 9-5, M-F. It's only useful to people who don't have to work those hours. No early morning or evening hours, no weekend hours.
- the notary was cheerful and pleasant (clearly not exhausted from a long day of people yelling at her)
- the UPS store was close enough that I could have walked there in ten minutes or less
- there was 25 cent parking within a block of the UPS store too -- and in fact, there was free parking a tiny bit further away in a lot; I paid the 25 cents to save a little time/hassle, and because I could afford to
- the UPS store employee was very competent
- the UPS store employee was cheerful and pleasant (see above re: not exhausted)
- I could drive home in good time for dinner -- if I hadn't had a car, the whole thing would have taken me an hour and a half, instead of 45 min.
- Kevin was at home, and perfectly capable of getting the family dinner ready; having an live-in partner meant that I didn't have to worry about getting delayed and making the kids' dinner late (and making them cranky)
- Kevin at home also meant that he and Kavi picked up Anand from preschool while I was out; if I'd had to do that, I might not have had time for the UPS errand at all today
- Kevin at home also meant that I didn't have to take children with me in the car, which slows everything down (and would have made the errands exceedingly difficult without a car, if I'd had to walk to them, since they are small and whiny about long walks)
- any delays would have left me less time to prep for tomorrow's classes, so I'd either have been a less prepared teacher tomorrow, or had to cut into my eight hours of sleep tonight

I'm sure there are more signs I'm not even noticing. How much does my polite upper-middle-class demeanor and use of standard English affect how people treat me? I did notice that one of the other UPS customers was a black man who was prominently missing a front tooth; in the city, that might or might not have affected the kind of service he got; in a different suburb, ditto.

And yes, you can live in Oak Park in a little apartment that isn't a *ton* more expensive than in some parts of the city (although still some more) and get most of these services too. This is a large part of what I love about Oak Park. But those services exist mostly because of all the homeowners paying very high property taxes.

Wealth makes everything so much easier.

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