June 15, 2001
4:49 PM   Subscribe

I'm not really sure if I feel for these people or not. A lean job market is no picnic, but c'mon, there are other jobs out there. Maybe it is some sort of divine retribution for these shelter denizens after spending months cutting people off while yapping on the cell-phone behind the wheel of the leased Porsche. Yes, that was a run-on sentence.
posted by donkeysuck (20 comments total)
I remember reading somewhere that the count(y|ies) that made up Silicon Valley were renowned -- even at the time of the dot-com boom -- for having the highest rate of homeless people with PhDs in the world. You had people glad of the opportunity to sleep under their desks, because the alternative, given the housing market in the Bay Area, was to sleep in their cars.

I'd suggest that they move.
posted by holgate at 5:08 PM on June 15, 2001

No kidding, work at McDonalds for a few months and live at the shelter for $45 a week until you've saved up enough for a plane/bus/train ticket somewhere else. I have no pitty for someone making $100K a year who has no savings to fall back on. It's called being an adult, and having at a backup plan.
posted by bizwank at 5:30 PM on June 15, 2001

What I still want to know is why did the rug get ripped out from under the entire dotcom boom? Who blew the whistle and caused the hope and faith in its future to disappear? It's like in less than six months time someone screamed fire in the movie theater and everyone with money just started running for the hills.

I smell a skunk. I think it's behind that shrub...
posted by ZachsMind at 6:04 PM on June 15, 2001

damnit bizwank. you took both my points.

yeah, if these people saved up instead of spending their paychecks on star wars figures and lap-dances, they'd be ok right now.

the GOOD thing about the dotcom collapse is that i'm NOW just getting into it, so i know to watch my step.
posted by jcterminal at 6:05 PM on June 15, 2001

I lived in the Silly Valley for 3 years and couldn't get away fast enough. Unfortunately, I still have to travel there 6 to 8 times a year as part of my job and I absolutely hate the place. I've never been able to fathom why it is that so many Bay Aryans can't bear the thought of leaving their congested, overpriced, dirty, and increasingly miserable surroundings. I have several friends there who are either unemployed or seriously underemployed, yet when I ask them why the won't seek employment elsewhere they mumble something about the weather, restaurants, and how exciting it is to live there.

The point about not saving money is well made. I know several people ther who are gainfully employed and talk incessantly about buying a house there, yet they spend phenomenal sums of money on themselves and manage to save nothing.
posted by MrBaliHai at 6:12 PM on June 15, 2001

Dude, Star Wars figure Porn, what a freakin' great marketing idea! Any venture capitalists out there?
posted by machaus at 6:29 PM on June 15, 2001

2 years ago, this would have been an Onion link.
posted by jragon at 7:07 PM on June 15, 2001

The dotcom boom wasn't all fast cars and hot women. In the midwest we saw a lot of success, but few of us made any real money on "options" -- and now almost half of my friends, all skilled and competent workers, are out of work. While I don't know anyone who's close to being homeless, I can still understand how it can happen.

Except for the part about not saving money. But you do have to remember that a lot of the dot commers came from non-traditional backgrounds. Had I been smart enough not to get kicked out of college, I wouldn't have gotten the job with the Herman Miller chair. (Yeah, I meant to say it that way, you figure it out.)
posted by fnirt at 7:40 PM on June 15, 2001

What I still want to know is why did the rug get ripped out from under the entire dotcom boom?

A lot of people who landed in the Bay Area during the last throes of the dot-com boom were being "paid" mainly in options, rather than cash: not so easily convertible when the rent payment is due.

But I also think that the whole "live/work for today, don't think of tomorrow" thing was quite frankly necessary to keep the bubble in the air. Because anyone who gave time to think of the future would pretty quickly realise that... well, there wasn't one.

So people sustained the delusion while it lasted, and when reality broke through, it was like sunrise on a vampire's skin. Adult? No, of course not. But if people stopped believing in the delusion that certain stocks were "worth" their valuations, the same thing would happen.
posted by holgate at 7:50 PM on June 15, 2001

Pick a copy of Misfortune magazine, courtesy of Modern Humorist:

B2B: The Bezos-Buffett Dialogue
Two legends take time out from rat-catching to sit down with MISFORTUNE and discuss everything from making clothing out of fabric-softener sheets to assuaging their gnawing sense of hopelessness. (Their secret? Heroin!)
posted by waxpancake at 8:10 PM on June 15, 2001

Gee.. Now I kindasorta feel bad that I refrained whenever possible from clicking on bannerads cuz I thought it was silent protest against Duh Man stepping in and turning the Internet into snake oil. The Internet not being a moneymaker appears to have only hurt the little guys. The corporations are still going strong. Whoodahthunkit?

I am never going to get a grip on reality.
posted by ZachsMind at 9:42 PM on June 15, 2001

Top consultants and contractors once named their salaries in the valley. Now, even those who qualify for unemployment benefits soon discover the $40 to $230 weekly check will not cover an apartment here, where rent averages around $1,800 a month.

jesus christ, the point has been made before, but MOVE!! you know, i love san francisco and seattle with a passion and would thoroughly enjoy living in either, but why do that when my money gets me 40% more here in dallas and that affords me really great vacations in said cities? same thing with new york. my boyfriend thought it would be romantic to attend art school there and did so. he lived in a cramped ratty, roachy apartment while hustling four part time jobs as well as his course load. he never got to enjoy the city at all. he figured he could have gone to an equally fine school in a cheaper locale, worked two part time jobs and afforded a couple of very nice week long vacations to nyc per year, seeing and enjoying more in that time than he ever did while he lived there.
posted by centrs at 11:34 PM on June 15, 2001

Maybe it is some sort of divine retribution for these shelter denizens after spending months cutting people off while yapping on the cell-phone behind the wheel of the leased Porsche.

People who worked at internet businesses are certainly worthy of ridicule. I hope none of them ever get jobs again as penance for their arrogance. Scorn them, the losers.

jesus christ, the point has been made before, but MOVE!!

You there, with the roommates working a construction job, I understand you’re poor and can’t find better employment, but jesus christ, why don’t you fucking move? I’m sure you could find a better job somewhere else that will afford you trips to the city you currently live in. Don’t you have any sense?!
posted by capt.crackpipe at 12:24 AM on June 16, 2001

Want to also point out that some of us were working on cool, real products with poor management that ended up getting the rug pulled out from under them.
posted by owillis at 12:39 AM on June 16, 2001

I live in the Silicon Valley... it hasn't been easy here for a lot of people, but I have been largely isolated from the pain. For some reason, I appear to be just about the only high-paid contractor I know with something resembling job security... I work for a pre-IPO with money in the bank that needs documentation for their products, and I am the only technical writer in the company and one of the few out there that know the technology.

I can understand some of the pain that these technology workers are going through, but they have to take their share of the blame for not saving, and for moving here in the first place and expecting to get rich quick. They weren't only greedy, they were foolish too.

The valley is dynamic, but it has never been exactly rosy. There are always parts of the tech sector in decline... some years it's computer manufacturers, some year it's chip makers, memory. Sometimes it's software companies, especially those that Microsoft decides to compete against aggressively... Sometimes it's just the trend for businesses to keep their corporate HQ and engineering here, but move everything else out of the area to save money. I've seen huge IT and support departments completely liquidated, outsourced to Denver, wafer fabs sent to Texas, and a lot of people hurt because of it. The rest of the country just sees new jobs, without thinking about where they came from. The big difference this time is that everyone is getting it in the neck, but it's about time, really.

My real sympathies lie with the people who are the least guilty victims of this downturn, all the children whose parents are now homeless. We've been doing a lot of (very late) Spring cleaning here, and recently decided to get rid of a ton of stuff... clothes, games, and a ton of my wife's old teddy bears. I suggested that we go to The San Jose Family Shelter, because I had been there with a former employer of mine, helping them for Christmas, and I knew they were a good cause.

When I got there, I was stunned... They used to house maybe about a dozen families at a time, but when we arrived, there were hundreds of young kids, everywhere. Hundreds... As we put down our bags of donated goods and as workers started sorting through all of it, throngs of kids huddled around our old crappy stuff in excitement. It felt to me like the scene in Gone With the Wind where they panned back on all the dying and wounded soldiers... the difference between what I had seen just 18 months before and what I saw that day was that striking.

I remember when I visited the Christmas before last, touring the place. We had donated a lot of arts and crafts supplies to the shelter, and were there to spend time with the kids. It smelled of disinfectant and felt entirely too sterile a place for a kid to have fun. Around noon, all the kids had their lunch... two pieces of white bread, untoasted, with this brownish slurry all over the top of it, filled with canned green beans. I felt guilty, but I couldn't bring myself to eat that crap.

I met a young, sad-looking boy who said "It's okay. You don't have to eat it. I don't like it, it tastes awful." He looked tired and depressed. I bought him a soda, which was a big treat for him, and we talked. His father was gone all day at work, but despite working, he couldn't afford a place to live on what he was making. They were lucky though... they were part of a special program and the city would have a place for him to live in four months.

All I could think to myself then was that four months was a long time for an eleven year old to have to wait for a home. All I can wonder now is how long will all these new homeless kids need to wait...
posted by insomnia_lj at 10:41 AM on June 16, 2001

Don't try to snow us with your compassion. We'd rather harsh on imagined evil former Porsche-driving cellphone users. Schadenfreude rules, the meaner the better.
posted by rodii at 11:16 AM on June 16, 2001

Schadenfreude madenfreude. Get a roommate or three, sell your car, or better yet, call your parents back in Dubuque and Akron and Laredo and get them to send you a bus ticket back home.
posted by Dreama at 4:31 PM on June 16, 2001

i think you missed my point capt.crackpipe.
posted by centrs at 4:48 PM on June 16, 2001

YES! Move! Move far away! Get thee to a place thou canst afford! What are you? An idiot!

The previous comment has been brought to you by the Committee on More Parking and Cheaper Rent for Fooljay...
posted by fooljay at 8:08 PM on June 16, 2001

jragon, it was a Firesign Theatre album 2 years ago.

Thanks for the story on the children in the San Jose shelter, insomnia_lj. Whipsawing capitalism and "irrational exuberance" have created casualties we don't see on the evening news.
posted by aflakete at 12:01 AM on June 17, 2001

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