A few weeks ago, I was in Los Angeles covering the Grammys for my radio station. I took the wife with me, as she had always wanted to visit L.A. but had never been.
For three nights and a full day on Sunday, we got to explore this city that fascinates many of us. If you’ve never been, I’ll tell you now that it is everything you think it would be: Bigger than life and very exciting. It’ll also make you feel like you’re living the life of a peasant. We tried to get out and mix with the crowd, but for the most part people saw right through us. After all, we do have that “collections agencies have us on speed dial” look to us.
We aren’t rich by any means. We aren’t poor either. We get by. We have a decent house, food to eat, a car to get around in and usually a few bucks left over to buy tacos and margaritas on the weekends. On most days that’s enough to keep me happy, but, in L.A., we’d be teetering on the brink of poverty.
That place is such a different world. The first time we saw a Ferrari driving down the road, my eyes popped out of my head. By the time we left, it was like seeing a Honda Accord or something. Everybody has one. We saw Rolls Royces, Teslas everywhere, Lamborghinis even a Bugatti. All the while we’re driving around in a rented Nissan Altima that I fell in love with. That’s when I realized that there are different levels of rich.
My fascination with this rented mid-sized sedan that retails for roughly $25,000 while surrounded by cars that were priced $200,000 and up was humorous to me. It was very new, much newer than my ’93 Astrovan, the “Swagger Wagon” as my kids like to call it. I felt rich and fancy driving it. It had some cool options: y’know, a radio that worked. I was in heaven. My rented wonder wagon must have seemed like a 2016 model P.O.S. to the drivers of those cars.
Then my wife and I found ourselves wondering where the middle class people lived. Everywhere we drove, it seemed that the houses were all huge, even when we weren’t sightseeing in Beverly Hills. Passing through what we thought looked like normal suburbs, after a quick Zillow search, we found out the houses were all valued much higher than we could ever afford. I asked her, where do the people with our jobs live? In hindsight, not such a valid question when you consider the guy with my job in L.A. is Ryan Seacrest, worth about $330 million. But, you get the point.
I have met some people I would call “rich” with huge houses, fancy cars, kitchens on their back patios (that’s so cool!), but even many of those people pale in comparison to the lifestyle we saw in Los Angeles. The pure wealth on display in much of that city is unbelievable. Not that there’s anything wrong with it. Hey, if you can make it, make all you can and enjoy it. I just find it fascinating that no matter how rich you may think you or someone else may be, there’s always someone richer.
Unless you’re Bill Gates. Then, well, y’know.