California is known as the “Golden State.” Historically speaking, there have been several reasons for this nickname. One obvious reason was the gold rush of 1849. Another was the idea that sunsets appear more “golden” over the Pacific Ocean. Then came Hollywood. The “Golden Aura” of the “Silver Screen.” After that Silicon Valley, brought in a new “Golden Age” of technology. All in all, there has been a general perception that California can make dreams come true. Since I’ve gotten here, the golden aura surrounding this place seems to be more fantasy than anything else.
The debt this state has incurred is staggering. What blew my mind was the mentality of the people who let it get to this point. Politicians who tried to stave off this tragedy were laughed out off office in the past for being eccentric. Now the debt has gotten so out of control that the ONLY way to resolve the issue is to tax the crap out of the people. In fact, that’s the platform Jerry Brown ran on for Governor. He flat out said, the debt is beyond repair by ordinary means; taxation is the only answer, and he won! Now that he has implemented his plan to tax the people and fix the problem THEY caused, they’re upset and want him out of office!
Let’s move on to the people. Entitlement Syndrome runs rampant around here. Everyone thinks they are owed everything. It completely blew my mind when I found out that wait staff here in California are paid full minimum wage (or more) PLUS their tips! That certainly made me readjust my tipping percentage scale when I eat out. I’ve always been a critical tipper, but to think that these guys get paid pretty much as much as I do, then 15%-20% per meal on top of it! I don’t think so. The worst part is, they think they deserve all of that money. Waitstaff all over the country make a fraction of what they do, yet they deserve all of that money. Yeah, right.
That entitlement attitude carries over into everything. I work in a gas station. I’ve had customers curse at me because they had to wait 30 whole seconds for me to put money in the safe before I could wait on them, or I was in the middle of changing trash and the minute I took to walk inside was too long for them.
On the road that entitlement attitude is dangerous. I find it upsetting that there are so many car wrecks (I can’t bring myself to call them accidents, because accidents they certainly are not) that the police don’t even respond to most of them. They have a website set up so people can file their own non-injury reports. The police only respond if there are injuries involved.
So many people have been star struck by California’s “Golden” image that the cities here are so very overpopulated. One of the first places I was taken when I got here was Golden Gate Park. The Bridge, the park, the trees, they were all beautiful, but what stood out the most in my mind was the number of homeless people. There were so many homeless people, it scared me. I almost felt like I had fallen into a zombie movie. San Francisco is not alone in this. Since working in Oakland I’ve seen hordes of homeless there, too. Both sides of the Bay have so many people who have no place to go. There are hardly any shelters or help of any kind. These people have no recourse but to live out in the cold (trust me, the nights are cold in the Bay regardless of what time of the year it is).
It’s no wonder why there are so many people without homes. Do you have any idea what the property “values” are around here? In a crappy neighborhood you’re going to pay at least $200,000 for a 2 bed condo. That’s no yard, AND HOA fees! In a nice neighborhood for a 3-4 bed house with a tiny yard you’ll pay at least 3/4 million dollars. If you don’t believe me, look it up. In my opinion, there is no neighborhood nice enough to cost that much money, period. Hell, for $200,000 you can get a decent size house, with a decent yard in a decent neighborhood in most parts of the country! What on Earth makes California so special that it can screw people over so dramatically?
Since I’ve been here I’ve been treated poorly by my managers at work, by strangers on the street, by a lot of people. I have searched for the metaphorical gold that is supposed to be here and all I’ve found is the reason I came in the first place. Once I take him with me, I’m afraid that California will be barren. I hope that others have found their pot of gold here, but my confidence in that is waning the longer I stay here.