I don’t know about you but I’m extra stealthy because I get a huge kick out of it. I think it’s hilarious. That or maybe because I’ve been dirt poor most of my life so I don’t have any other programming in me to be anything different.
Remember in my 11 Perks of Growing Up Poor post I mentioned no one will bother to be fake with you if you don’t have anything to offer them? Yup! That’s basically reason enough to be as stealthy as possible even though there are plenty more reasons out there.
I’m very protective of my blog, I keep it as far away from my personal life as possible. No Facebook. No family. I know it sounds counter-intuitive but I’m better off being open to Internet strangers who are pre-conditioned to understand than trying to explain and convert my lifestyle onto someone else.
I have some random stories here that happened to us while we were…being us. I think they are pretty amusing but you can be the judge of that.
1. Homeless Hippo
Last year, I got a case of the stomach flu and my husband had to cover for me during an Airbnb weekend turnover. He was cleaning up and found some stains on a pillow. Tried to get the stain out of the pillow but it was a no-go with limited cleaning supplies. He ended up needing to take the pillow home with him along with some old laundry that couldn’t fit in the super tiny apartment size washer. Our washer and dryer at home are bigger and more powerful. He had to put the old laundry in a garbage bag to take home.
I thought he was going to take a rental car home but, let me tell you, my husband is plenty cheap himself. He said there wasn’t enough Car2Gos around. For him to walk to a nearby car, it would be the same distance as walking to the actual bus stop. He decided he rather save $20 and take the bus back if it’s all the same.
So there he was…looking sad, sitting on one of the seediest Seattle bus lines, carrying a black garbage bag filled with blankets and towels, after a day of sweaty cleaning, hugging a dirty pillow.
This friendly homeless man on the bus came up to him and started telling him about a good homeless camp nearby that they can both go. He kindly asked my Hippo if he’s got a warm place to sleep tonight etc. He thought my husband was homeless. LOL.
It sounded really funny when Hippo told me what happened afterward. I thought it was cute but my husband told me it was such an exhausting day dealing with Airbnb that he zoned out for most of it. He told the homeless man that he was OK for the night. He lied and said he was going to bunk with a friend for the night.
Hippo did look bummy. Most large metropolitan cities have a sophisticated network of homeless folks that know each other and look out for each other. I saw similar instances back in San Francisco where they openly share food and cigarettes with each other. Some are part of these casual “street” families. They all seem to know each other and share the best spots to sleep, eat, hang out. It’s a very “what’s mine is yours” kind of culture.
2. Mail Theft
We live in an ugly house. There, I said it. It’s ugly from the outside and we almost didn’t get it because it was so ugly from the outside.
We also live in a strong working-class neighborhood only getting near gentrification down the line. The median salary is about $50,000 in our neighborhood while the Seattle median salary is $78,000. I’ve grossed more money last year than that alone without my husband so I say we’re atypical for the area.
We’re also the youngest couples on the block.
Most people buy here because it’s more affordable and they’re seniors. I bought here for the other reasons…lots of greasy divey eateries, Asian gentrification, and lots of local thrift stores to rummage through. There have been minor cases of break-ins and mail theft in the past 2 years and these crimes aren’t profitable enough for law enforcement to get involved. It’s not as bad as I’m selling it but it’s definitely no gated community with a pool club.
One day a senior gentleman showed up to our doorstep and asked if we received a package that was addressed to him. We both told him “no, we didn’t get anything.” He then told us that he called the post office and the post office told him that they had misdelivered it to our address. It was an important package and I asked him what was in it he said: “it’s nothing valuable to you.”
Ah, I see his thought process, he thinks we do have it and we were going to keep if it was something valuable.
Well at this point we already went back and forth telling him we didn’t have his package about 4+ times and I was getting annoyed that he didn’t believe us. He noted my patience running low and left.
Over right? Nope! He came back the next day to ask the same thing – did we have it? I said, “no we don’t have it.”
He came back the third day and asked if we really don’t have it and I said, “no we don’t have it.”
The doorbell rang around the same time on the 4th day and whewwwww boy, I had a bad day. He was going to step into my wrath. I had a huge speech all prepared about how he was treating us like criminals and it was going to sound so epic like I’m an attorney or something.
But I open the door and it was the mailman standing there.
………………the mailman asked if we had the guy’s package.
“Excuuuuuuse me, sir, no, for the 100th time, NO!!! We don’t have his stupid package. Did he send you over here? Did he send you over here because I saw you talking to him earlier. WE DON’T HAVE THE PACKAGE. If it was so valuable maybe he should have sprung for signature confirmation. Maybe USPS should stop screwing up mail delivery. Whoever is doing our neighborhood has been screwing up street names for the past month. We had to do YOUR job 3 times this past month and deliver the mail ourselves to the correct addressee blocks away. We don’t steal, we don’t NEED to steal, WE WORK, how am I in the middle of this —“
Anyway, I went on like that for 3 minutes and the poor postal service guy was like…
I don’t know what happened after that but neither of them bothered us again. Hopefully, the USPS was able to redeliver because we didn’t have it and it couldn’t have walked away on its own. I want our names cleared dang it.
I mentioned this before but remember when I went to Tiffany’s?
I walked in with a regular t-shirt and khakis pants and I knew I was not properly dressed when the uniformed associates looked over with wide pie eyes.
Hey, I was only there because my Airbnb guest wanted to go check out American stores.
I have never been inside a Tiffany’s! How am I suppose to know what’s the right dress code? Bottom line is it’s just another overpriced jewelry store in a mall.
The sales associates kept an eagle eye on us and were reluctant to give us too much attention besides patrolling. I had to sneak in words like “investment” and things like “which can hold value better” until the associate I got loosened up and started giving me her sales spew.
It reminded me a lot of the Anna Delvey story. If you haven’t read it by now, you NEED to read it! Basically, it shows how a lot of our society relies on superficial words, gloating, and perception of wealth to gauge wealth.
I took a really good quote from Metafilter (I love this forum):
It’s a really fascinating look into how much the world of high finance is run on handshakes, reputation, and trying to save face. Like, there’s no way my bank would let me withdraw more than a couple hundred from a check I just deposited. But a $100k line of credit based on a phone call from a fancy lawyer, and a scan of a forged receipt [is OK.] Obviously that’s the real thesis of this piece, not just the [Anna Delvey] story.
That’s basically what I had to pull at Tiffany’s!
My snuck in blurbs something along the lines of “I was thinking of buying a classic Tiffany ring as an investment since all of our assets are in stocks blah blah blah.”
Her eyes lid up. She handed me her business card and she even wrote down her personal WeChat messenger ID so I could contact her anytime. (I didn’t add her, I was just having fun trying to see what clicked.)
Humans are silly.
4. Amateur Profiling
OK, I need some reaffirmation for this one: do you guys and girls get followed when you’re shopping in the mall?
I don’t go to malls very often but when I do, I’m usually treated like a shoplifter or something.
I remember going to an Ulta with a group of 2 other girlfriends and 1 of their boyfriends. We were looking at NYX makeup products when a sales attendant suddenly came up from behind us and asked loudly if we needed help finding anything. We told her we were fine and that we were just browsing the new releases. All words of truth, we were straight-A college kids.
We continued browsing and we noticed the same sales attendant continued to hover and track behind us closely. Eventually, 2 MORE attendants joined in. Now there’s 3 and my friend was getting ticked off. I thought it was funny! But she was very offended and we all left in a huff.
It’s hard to tell our age actual age (20s). We probably came off looking like a gang of broke teenager girls. Can’t fault them on that. it was in a seedy area, they probably get a lot of girls coming in to steal makeup out of vain desperation.
We didn’t wear expensive clothes, all of our sneakers were dirty, I was rocking my home haircut and the one boyfriend was wearing a dirtyMisfit jacket. We fit the profile for a gang of troublemaking punks…even though we were total dorks.
Honestly, I don’t know what the Ulta staff was thinking though. You can track people but it was so obvious…having 3 of them move right behind you. The best irony would be if another girl 2 aisles down from us wearing the $500 dollar shoes and $100 hair extensions looted $200 worth of makeup when the associates were busy profiling us. How else did ya think she be able to afford $500 dollar shoes and $100 dollar hair extensions? Amateurs!
5. Lamp Man
There are some really cool superheroes: Clark Kent as Superman. Bruce Wane as Batman. But there’s one superhero that has my heart in near totality and his name is Lamp Man.
When we first moved into our house I was on Craigslist furniture hunting like a madwoman. I spent hours looking specifically for mid-century modern pieces. It was our first house and I was very excited about my blank canvas. We decided to buy a house HALF the price of our housing budget so we had money left over to fill it.
I didn’t want to walk into an IKEA or any big box furniture store to get the same sofa as my neighbors. I wanted the old “Golden Age of Hollywood” glamor pieces and rare mid-century pieces and I was being VERY stubborn about getting them.
Our living room was empty for like…5 months because it took me that long to hunt down each piece in my desired price range…as it came on the market.
After 3 months of waiting, I finally found the perfect floor lamp but the sellers couldn’t deliver and it was across town; about a few blocks away from my husband’s work building. I told my husband how much I wanted it and he went to pick it up for me.
The bus home wasn’t far from the apartment where he picked up the lamp…so he took a giant floor lamp…onto the bus…during rush hour.
He told me EVERYBODY on the bus stared at him. Not surprisingly. Even the driver was grinning. They probably thought he was a hoarder or grifter with his wild hair and bushy beard.
When he came home with it (holding it like a fishing pole) I asked him why he didn’t just rent a car but…then…I realized it wouldn’t have fit in a Car2Go anyway. He saved maybe $50 not having to fetch a full-size car to pick it up.
But more importantly…how special is my husband?
Would most husbands be willing to ride the rush hour bus with a floor lamp and dangling light bulb on their shoulder for their wife?!?
(Noooo, because no other man should be that special! That’s my special guy! Oh…I totally thought he was going to rent a car…)
Ahaha, I’ll add more if I remember or if something new happens to us.
The most common assumption of our abject stealth is homeless for him and petty thievery for me. Hmm, interesting.
There were plenty of other instances but they’re not worth mentioning. There was the time hubby and I carried 5 chairs back home from another Craiglist ad a few blocks away. It was too close to get a car but still a good 5 to 8 minute walk on the main street. Everyone on the way back stared at us either with amusement or pity.
Like I said, I find it very amusing and not embarrassing at all. That’s what I mean when I say frugality is much more fun when it’s not required. You frame things differently and framing something can make all the difference.
Do you have any stealth wealth stories to share? Have you ever been profiled or type casted?