March 12, 2009
It was an average Monday in 1999. After waking up to the sound of *NSYNC on my radio clock alarm (my wife must think she’s still 16), I headed downstairs to my kitchen to pour a bowl of cereal. I sat watching a rerun of SNL from the weekend before, in which Monica Lewinsky starred, doing cameo of herself. I remarked to myself that the gallon of milk and the Kellogg’s Corn Flakes I just finished cost me about $4.60 total, and that was barely more than many were making at the federal minimum wage of $5.15 an hour. Reaching for the pot for a second cup, I saw that I was out of coffee. A new bag would run me a little less than $4/lbs.
I headed out to my brand new Subaru Outback. I was proud of this car; I had managed to talk the salesperson down to $22,000. As I drove off to work, I thought about my life. I had an average job making $45,000 a year, and my wife and I had just moved into a new home, which cost us just over $130,000 At the 7 percent fixed-rate mortgage we signed on, we would paying $900 a month for the next 30 years, after calculating in insurance and property tax.
Walking from the parking lot to my desk, I glanced at the front page of the paper I was carrying. It read that the Barna Research Group and the AP were reporting that one in four people had been divorced at least once. That number was much higher for many sects of Christianity. I, however, hadn’t ever been divorced; neither had my wife. Perhaps that was due to our stricter Lutheran lifestyle, in which less than 21 percent of members had been divorced.
At about noon for lunch, I ran out to grab some food. I went to a decent mom-and-pop Chinese restaurant, where I paid about $5 for a meal, which is just above my average daily budget.
After clocking out and pointing the car toward home, I realized I was running on fumes pulled into a gas station to fill up the car. At $1.22 a gallon, I spent about $12 filling up my 11-gallon tank. As I passed a grocery store, I remembered that we needed to refill our pantry. I ended up spending spending $1/lbs. for apples and the same on a couple pounds of bananas; 108 cents on two pounds of carrots; less than $3 on a package of wieners; and $1 on a dozen eggs.
Once I was home, my wife surprised me with the information that she’d found a babysitter. I took her out for a night on the town, which didn’t set me back too much at $5 per ticket for an evening showing of “The Sixth Sense.” With dinner at home, it was a nice romantic evening for less than $15.
As I drifted off to sleep, I saw a flash of red out of the corner of my eye, a rememberance from the movie, and the sentence, “I see dead people,” made its way into my dreams.