I had the pleasure yesterday of getting to witness a guy receiving delivery of his brand new, red ferrarri. I was walking home and noticed a tow truck ahead of me, pulled into a side street right beside my side walk, with a tomato red sports car sitting on top. I watched as the truck driver unstrapped the mag wheels and prepared the car to be removed from the truck bed. I don’t know a lot about cars, but I recognized the ferrari insignia and I noticed there were four tail pipes.
Then, I saw that the new owner of the car was already sitting in the driver’s seat and had the engine idling. (I was just a tiny bit incredulous that they would unstrap the wheels and have the car running when it was still sitting six feet off the ground on the bed of the truck! I guessed he must be a very eager new owner! ) After stopping and gawking a bit, and telling Munchkin that this was a very expensive car indeed, I walked on home into the parking garage of my compound. Imagine my surprise, then, when as we were walking in our compound’s underground parking garage: who should enter but the owner, driving his new, red ferrarri. It doesn’t yet have plates. It’s sitting downstairs in our compound. We don’t really "need" too much in the way of cars here, because in fact public transportation is quite good. Some of the cars in our compound’s garage have several month’s worth of dust sitting on them.
If one notices the cars downstairs in our compound one will see Lambourgini, Porsche, Maserati, Ferrari, and of course lots of BMW and Mercedes, along with other more familiar labels. Often, the car will have a driver inside it whose sole job is to care for the car and drive the owner where he needs to go. (This is so much more convenient than trying to find parking.)
As I walked up the steps into my apartment, I also marveled at the thought that we could only afford this apartment because my husband’s company pays the rent. Most of the people who live here have paid cash for their home, and for many of them it is a second or third home. For example, I’m told that the person one house over from me also owns residences in Shanghai and in Beijing. Only the maid lives here full time.
As I’ve previously noted, sometimes the contrast between the haves and have nots in this society stands out in sharp relief. I have to confess that I’m grateful to have been born as one of the haves. I wonder what my life would have been like if I had been born in China. Another thing I’m grateful for, is that I have a conscience that makes me slightly uncomfortable with that discrepancy and to have a yearning for there to be a bit less of a gap, overall. One of the cultural differences we’ve experienced between our culture and others, perhaps non-judeo xn based ones, is that some cultures have no sensitivity at all where the gap is concerned. To repeat, I’m grateful for my own set of values in that regard. I can be quite happy to enjoy the sight of the red ferrarri, I’ll probably be quite happy never to have one for myself.