The ride started out a little funny. I walked up to the car, but the back seat was already occupied, so I wasn’t sure it was my ride after all. The driver pulled up and away, and the occupants finally got out and walked in after some moments passed. It turned out she was my driver; the other riders just weren’t sure it was their destination. This building is weird and if I hadn’t been there a bunch of times really single-handedly funding my dermatologist’s kid’s college fund, I would be confused too. The place basically hangs over the freeway and there isn’t any room to turn around. We figured it out after all the confusion and got on our way.

My driver said that she had been working from home for her regular job and her daughter just started working from home two weeks ago, and she called a lot. We were getting on the on-ramp for the freeway and her daughter called on Facetime and there she was, in a beauty facemask! We laughed. Kids these days really have no reservations about getting on Facetime no matter what they are doing. They could be swimming with sharks or digging in an outhouse for their dropped wallet or getting an ingrown toenail pulled, I don’t know.

My driver told me that she assisted people with getting resources for the state of California as her job. So she knew what was going on with housing and resources, and we could immediately speak a sort of shorthand with each other because of our similar experiences. She asked if I knew about a specific organization, and I had, and she said they had a lot of money on hand for COVID and wondered if I had asked them for assistance. I let her know that under ordinary circumstances I didn’t qualify because I was above poverty level with my SSDI, and now that everything is set up for COVID, well, I still don’t qualify. She said it was really discouraging to try to help people and if they were even a dollar above what was allowed, they couldn’t receive help. I know this already. No wiggle room whatsoever. No soft edges. Only a hard line.

My driver was saying that her son is still in high school, and he’s finally actually back in school, which is great because it’s his senior year and he wants to be with everyone before they all leave. But then he got that one teacher. The teacher puts up the assignment after 4 pm Friday nights, and expects them to hand in their project by 11:59 Sunday night. That happens every week. Basically it’s structured like college. And it sucks. He actually did Facetime with my driver from the class to show how boring the teacher is. Yep, she’s boring. Unfortunately, that isn’t gong to fix the issue. He just needs to make it through to the end of class.

My driver told me she used to have a 3,000 sq. ft. house with her and her son and daughter. Then her daughter moved out, so she and her son moved into a 2 bedroom condo (apartment-style). But the condo association charges a lot for the community space, plus they charge shared water, plus shared electricity, etc., meaning everyone living there pays that bill for their water and electricity. They charge so much that it didn’t feel like much of a downsize. And then they raised her rent $690 more a month with the rent hikes. Now she pays more than she did in her house. I keep an eye on the market for one and two bedroom units, and I know she could find something for less than what she pays now, but I know she has to think about her son and having to move yet again. I’m not going to describe these housing prices and rental prices as unreal; I’m going to describe them as not real. They are social constructs, just as the prices for certain breeds of dogs are social constructs. Of course, a dog is a dog, and a house is a house, but you get the idea. The justification comes down to, “Someone is going to pay that price.”

But what if we don’t? What if we collectively don’t?