Ten signs you’ve slipped into the underclass


Here’s how to tell you’ve hit bottom

Make a list that traces your downward mobility. This is the opposite of what you’d do if you were reading “Six signs that you’ve made it to the middle class,” a recent article which states the obvious — the middle class in America is becoming extinct — but then lists items one must have in order to belong.

Can't afford this coat? You're in the underclass.

My list is, I hope, more in tune with the times. You know you’ve joined the underclass when:

1. Five-dollar dress shirts at the Wolf Street thrift shop begin to seem too pricey.

2. “Hey kids, we’re going to the ballgame!” means the softball finals at Palumbo Playground, not the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park.

3. You cancel your cable TV subscription because you can only afford channels that show “Three’s Company” and infomercials.

4. The family car has four flats and a 2009 inspection sticker.

5. You live in Philadelphia but the closest job opening in your field is in Bangor, Maine.

6. You see a movie called Eat Pray Love — about the emotional turmoil of a well-off American woman on yearlong holiday — and want to write a sequel called Load Aim Splatter.

7. Your most up-to-date musical gadget is a boom box, not an iPod.

8. Dining out means pizza slices at Lorenzo’s, not a table for two at Amada.

9. Dental insurance isn’t an option, so you decide your chipped front tooth looks ruggedly handsome.

10. You insist that hole in the roof you can’t afford to fix is really a skylight.

I hope this helps everyday people everywhere get their bearings. For a macro version of this list, try “Thirty-six sure signs that your empire is crumbling.”

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