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I Wonder What All The Poor People Are Doing

South Beach, Miami
South Beach, Miami

As the second round of Corona buckets were ordered, I lifted up from our shaded arrangement to withdraw another set of Andrew Jacksons. I read the ATM receipt hoping the head rush from the hookah was still in tact as I focused in on my statement.

O My Word!

I shrugged off my financial dilemma and returned to the lush sofa, situated along Miami’s infamous Lincoln Road. I rested between a landscaped median and designer shops, watching half-naked bodies stroll up and down America’s sexiest city. As I inhaled another drag of the apple-mint hubbly, Lisa, a newfound friend, exclaimed:

I wonder what all the poor people are doing right now.

Cheers, Lisa.

Between the four heads, we ranged widely in account balances but prepared to live rich during the day trip to South Beach. After all, my company complied of recent graduates from my previous employer’s training program. The three South Africans surrounding me were hours from embarking a new journey on board various cruise ships, off to work for one of the world’s largest art gallery. Ah, the excitement I sympathized for the art dealers, about to work away on the high seas.

A career on board a grandiose monster of steel, crashing through the water by night, docking at a seaside paradise by day. A dream job, nonetheless. With little expenses thanks to provided accommodation and food, saving opportunities working at sea allows for a lavish lifestyle:
“I haven’t been home for three years. I choose to spend my vacations at my condo in Thailand” Described “T”, a veteran art dealer from Cape Town.

After dreaming of Phuket I listened to Lauren, my gallery friend I initially fled to visit, disclose her latest trip to Brazil. I beamed in gratitude reflecting on my own travels from the past year, all trips I initiated through hoarding money on the ship and generating global friendships. And though I resigned from the art gallery, I slipped right back into the social standards of the clique, proving myself worthy of conversation about artists, ports of call, and copious horror stories about the guests:

“Do they let you off the ship?”
“Do these stairs go down?”
“Which way is the front of the ship?” (While standing in front of a window, at sail)

The list goes on, but I’ll keep this post short and sweet.

Despite the absurd comments and taxing sea days on board the ship, the payouts outweigh the drawbacks. Jumping exchange from the Saffas to a Slovenian and everyone in between, I listened to stories of sacrifice about the decision to join an art gallery abroad. “My paychecks are greater than my parents combined, and I can save for myself while sending money back home”. This concept seems popular throughout my former colleagues, leaving loved ones to seize a tenacious opportunity.

Granting a life away, the professionals sign themselves up for the unknown. No one can foresee their future art team, itinerary, or salary. The art dealers among me drank in confidence, patiently awaiting their brief moment of freedom before embracing a fresh contract. In a melting pot of nationalities, economical backgrounds and career goals, we bonded over the misconception of outsiders. The adverse ideals of the cost of living in luxury. Understanding the confusion to work amid the honeymooners and retired. I threw myself back into the year I worked on board a cruise ship, and contemplated my return.

Though as influential as the art dealers were, I grounded myself in my own career goals. I have a plan, and a deteriorating checking account. I’ll continue to hold myself to a certain standard, however, eating well and traveling often. Because there’s a difference between being rich and living rich. They can be mutually exclusive, and for the time being, I chose the latter.

-JMM

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