We sort the money in our wallets by units of currency, dollars and cents, notes and COINS.
But the money in the mind is much harder to organize, lost in mood swings, pride and shame, joy and despair.
It's hard to deal with these feelings, so people don't talk about them much. It's even harder to write them down.
Six years ago, I started asking high school seniors for essays on money, work, social class, or related topics. I soon discovered that we could clearly learn a lot from their writing, as they and their parents prepared to make perhaps the biggest investment decision of their lives: as much as $300,000 for a college education.
This year's five essays show how rich the topic can be for writers who dare to write.
The daughter of a plumber and a young man obsessed with garbage trucks took on jobs that few of his peers wanted. A dishwasher came home from school in the middle of the night with a study card in his hand. In an environment of aging furniture, a family becomes smaller and smaller. For years, a teenage girl in Minnesota has found herself a new role in an old sanctuary.
People coming out of bars or parties give me the usual looks, either because my clothes stink after a night of hard work or because I'm muttering to myself as I frantically flip through study CARDS.
-- Mark Isai Garcia No more breaking dishes, understand?"
——马克·伊塞·加西亚(Mark Isai Garcia)
I couldn't understand the broken English that came out of his mouth, but his frown was the universal language. It was a Friday night in Little Tokyo, and in the dining room outside, a family was enjoying a five-star meal while a 14-year-old boy washed their plates in the kitchen.
Wash the dishes by hand, then soak them in disinfectant, then put them in the machine, dry them, put them in the designated place, and then do it again -- hopefully without breaking a handful. But that night, a China plate slipped through my soapy fingers and broke into five pieces. I tried to stay calm, but my face was still red and I screamed, "why me? ?" As if screaming would make the dish return to its original state.
The broken plate was just one of a number of worries I couldn't stop worrying about -- an Advanced Placement midterm in American history, a low grade in calculus, a eviction notice, my brother in trouble, and a dozen other relatively trivial but pressing concerns.
For me, there was no calling in sick to gather my thoughts, no much-needed rest, no time to study before the test. I have to make ends meet. I shut my mouth and went on working, using all the strength I had left. I know what it's like to suppress your emotions -- the salty, bitter taste of every drop of sweat, immersing yourself in background music, muscle aches.
It was midnight when the night shift finally ended. I caught the bus home, took out my notes and started studying. People coming out of bars or parties give me their usual looks, either because my clothes stink after a night's hard work or because I'm muttering to myself on the bus in the middle of the night, frantically flipping through study CARDS.
I don't mind their stares at all. I'm used to it, but it's just another set of speed bumps on the way to my goal. I was tired of my younger relatives flashing gang signs, or my father coming home late at night with burns from his work. Something had to change, and I knew it had to start with me.
Fortunately, I also know that I have dedication, desire and perseverance in my bones. My grandfather was the first wave of Mexican immigrants to settle in Los Angeles. He later returned home to a small rural village in oaxaca, bringing with him savings and tales of the land of opportunity.
His parents left oaxaca when they were teenagers and began working around the clock in Los Angeles as cooks and housekeepers. From the corn fields of oaxaca to the restaurants of Los Angeles to the classrooms, I've passed on that resilience from generation to generation, allowing me to take school and work in my stride.
In this evening, I walked into the house, inadvertently saw a let me happy accident: hard all day long mother in waiting for me to go home fell asleep. I stuffed the tip I had received that night into her purse and turned off the TV.
I stared at my brothers and sisters who had fallen into sweet dreams in their bedrooms. Watching them snore and breathe slowly, I yawned and found myself exhausted. But I won't rest with them until later. I have a composition due tomorrow morning, and Mr. Depaulo doesn't accept late assignments.
Life is a process of accepting chaos and learning to clean it up.
-- Kelley Schlise Not many 17-year-old girls know how to weld two copper pipes together or light an open fire on a water heater. I would venture to say that most people don't know the difference between a normal 90-degree PVC bend and a 90-degree male and female bend. These are the skills and traits I've learned over the past five years as an assistant in my father's personal plumbing business, a summer job that often involves dealing with a physically and mentally uncomfortable mess and requires a tough, graceful attitude that I often struggle to cope with. But I persevered. I am the plumber's daughter and his helper. Every damp morning, I struggle to fit into a pair of men's jeans from Goodwill that most people my age don't want to wear in public. I hung the tape measure from my belt, hastily braided my hair as I ran out the door and climbed into the passenger seat of the plumber's construction truck. It was an old white minivan with two pipes attached to its roof. While my peers worked part-time as babysitters, lifeguards or grocery counts, I helped dad lug heavy toolkits and heavy saws deep into people's houses. Although I sometimes worked in the gold-plated master bathroom of the lake-view mansion, we were often in the damp, moldy basement, where I had to search for my meter among the labyrinth of storage boxes. Five summers fixing pipes in Milwaukee taught me that the messy part of a house reflects the messy part of a person's life. Dad and I often make a mess, too. He cut through the walls with a heavy reciprocating saw, and the air was filled with a cloud of plaster. Sometimes there were no walls at all, and we had to work in a primeval jungle of fiberglass insulation, floor joists and rusty cast-iron risers. Again and again I skipped over piles of tangled wrenches and extension cords; The nose and mouth were covered with thick dust; His jeans were covered in pipe paint and his hands were black from a hard day's work. I looked at the chaos around me, and it rose within me. Nothing beautiful or neat; Everything was ugly. I felt powerless, frustrated and unable to think properly. Plumbing is a microcosm of a chaotic world, and sometimes I hate it. I asked myself why I had to go out and put up with the dust and sweat when I could have stayed in my air-conditioned room, vacuumed my bedroom, made avocado toast for breakfast and finished my summer homework early. I could even find another job, one that was more like the average job my peers do. However, just as I hate messy plumbing, I also hate being affected by these little upsets and being so easily annoyed by chaos. After all, the world was built by people who were willing to get their hands dirty. When I think about it, I deal with chaos all the time. As a teenager, the uncertainties and contradictions in my mind were far more complex than any extension, but I was always trying to sort them out. Life is a process of accepting chaos and learning to clean it up, and plumbing is no exception. Not only did dad and I create chaos, we created order, and with careful observation, I could find order in every new array of welded copper tubes, in the neatly lined toolbox in the back of dad's van. In addition, when clients thank us for our work, I understand that we bring order to their lives in small places. The physical and mental discomfort of plumbing is worth it. Potsville, Pennsylvania My dad's first words were, 'hug her, you won't hurt her now. '"
-- Victoria Oswald Much of my kitchen is occupied by my old, scruffy, warm brown table. Its condition has been appalling. Every time I sat down, I was surrounded by crumbs of old paint, hot sols and the occasional bit of nail polish (thanks to my sisters). We had two chairs, and I had to be extra careful which one I sat on would fall apart, because the legs were held in place by an annoying mixture of wood glue, brute force and pure malpractice. For the first half of my life, this kitchen table was the center of my home. When I was a child, we (my grandmother, my father and my two sisters) would have a meal cooked by my grandmother at exactly 7 PM at this old, scruffy, warm brown table. At those family dinners, I'd have fun arguing with my dad, watching him get yelled at by my grandmother for interrupting my dinner, and listening to my sisters fight or joke; It was always an adventure. Originally, my kitchen table had five sturdy wooden chairs. A few years later, when my eldest sister was 16 and I was 8, the number of chairs dropped to four as she moved away. She had too many arguments with her grandmother and was out of line, so she left. Three years later, grandma was diagnosed with small-cell lung cancer. This brings some changes to our evening table routine. At first it was my other sister who stopped coming to dinner. It's not that the food is inevitably less delicious (cancer destroys taste buds and overall cooking), but that she's always away. I don't think she wants to be with her grandmother after she was diagnosed with cancer. The number of chairs dropped to three. After a year or so, dinner itself was much less frequent, not mainly because of grandma, but because dad was determined to let grandma rest more. She ignored dad's concerns, so it turned out to be some sort of gray area I had to deal with. Grandma died of cancer a year and a half later. It was a quick sentence, but it took a long time. Don't get me wrong, I love grandma, but people with cancer often die long before they die. I was there when she died, in our living room. I was on one side of the bed and my dad was on the other. Her heavy breathing slackened and then stopped. It sounds sad, but it's actually kind of a comforting moment. The first thing dad said was hug her, you won't hurt her now." Despite the smell of phlegm, I hugged her. We only need two chairs.
After that, dad and I, and the rest of our unconventional American family, formed an extraordinarily unconventional one. It took us a while to settle down, because frankly, we were low-income before grandma got cancer, and then it got worse.
Dad and I cut everything down. We got rid of cable TV, cell phones and the Internet. We used less oil, less water, less food, and we didn't have a car for a while because our van was so gas-guzzling and often broke down. But even though it was a year of no wi-fi, no cell phones, and just plain boring, we made it through.
I still live in the same house, only now I have wi-fi. Our table was still there, but we took out the middle piece of wood, and now it's just big enough for both of us. We didn't have dinner like we used to, but sometimes dad and I would sit on the couch and chat.
Of course, our coffee table chat may not be the same as our family dinner, or our TV may not work. Maybe we have ants in the kitchen, maybe we have to listen to the Super Bowl on the old '90s radio, or maybe dad is getting sicker.
I don't care if my new life revolves around an old sofa with holes in it, a grumpy old man, a pair of fat cats and a maned lizard. I was content with my father; Every night at seven o 'clock, I am content to find two empty chairs around the dusty, warm brown old kitchen table in the dingy kitchen. These days, the living room light is on.
The trash itself is a lens through which I can see what is happening in Chatham.
-- Andy Patrick On July 5, 2017, it was the hottest day in Chatham, Massachusetts. My partner, Benjamin, and I showed up in the huge backyards of adjacent beach homes, carrying large green trash cans and dumping them into the back of the truck. I hopped on to the pedals, ready for the next stop, thinking that, despite all the sweat and aches and pains, all the insect bites and garbage, this job had made me so happy. Like many children, I fell in love with garbage trucks as a toddler. Unlike most kids, I never let go of this obsession. When I was 8 years old, I joined a YouTube community called trashmonster26, where a group of like-minded people posted various BBBS related to garbage trucks. Over the next nine years, I spent a fair amount of time looking for garbage trucks of all sizes -- not only in my hometown of San Diego, but also on family vacations in Sacramento and Boston, chasing garbage trucks that I couldn't see in San Diego. I know these cars like the back of my hand. At a glance, I can tell the brand, model and year of almost every garbage truck in the country. Over the past few years, the channel has accumulated more than 6,000 subscribers and 4 million views. Most of my older friends with the same interests grew up doing recycling, which my parents strongly objected to. I knew from a young age that I would go to college after high school, but I still wanted to experience working in a truck. While few transportation companies hire anyone under 18, I know that Benjamin t. Nickerson Inc., a small family business near my grandparents' house on the east coast, might break the mold and find seasonal help. I called their office, and after a few persistent emails, I was hired as a summer employee. For my classmates, going to a small fishing village to deal with other people's garbage all day sounds like a very unpleasant summer. For me, it was one of the most liberating experiences of my life. My day began at dawn, well before holidaymakers in the region wanted to get up. I got rid of the classroom and my parents' nagging. Just me and an empty road. The trash itself was a lens through which I saw what was happening in Chatham. On July 5th
我从小就知道高中毕业后要上大学，但我仍然想要体验在卡车上的工作。虽然几乎没有哪家运输公司会雇佣18岁以下的人，但我知道东海岸我祖父母家附近有一家名叫本杰明·尼克森公司(Benjamin T. Nickerson Inc.)的小型家族企业，可能会打破常规，找一些季节性帮工。我给他们的办公室打了电话，在坚持不懈地发了几封邮件之后，我被录用为暑期工。
我在高科技高中(High Tech High)的同班同学和我在查塔姆的客户之间几乎没有相似之处。我班上的孩子来自圣地亚哥不同的背景和文化群体。在查塔姆消暑的人群几乎都是富裕的白人。
我咬着牙从用胶带做的钱包里掏出一张钞票，付了能让我把书借走的20%罚款。如果能借一本叫做《为孩子理财》(Handling Money for Kids)的书，我会借的，因为我大部分的“财富”都直接回到了图书馆。
如今我坐在服务台后面，看到也听到了一切：央求着要借走“朱尼·琼斯系列”(Junie B. Jones)的小女孩，在电脑上玩《机器砖块》(Roblox)的男孩，忙着报税的女人，来电询问最新结果的“体育迷”，还有询问天气的女人。