I did something unusual the other day, I went into a salon to get my hair worked on. Usually I treat my stylists like my mechanic. I figure out exactly what I want replaced, go in somewhere that will do it cheap, and leave. This time was a new place. I live in the burbs in an area that maybe 20-30 years ago could have been considered rural. So despite being not far from The Big City, there is a very backwoods kind of feel to certain things around here.
I am used to hanging out with professional men in the more expensive burbs in town, or the occasional career-minded woman. At university are droves of mostly privileged young men and woman. Even at the local community college the working class I see is still very driven and ambitious. It's only the children of privilege who waffle on whether they will major in criminal justice or get an associate's in business. When coworkers ask me if I plan to have children it's easy to say "No, that's not for me." When someone asks me where I work it's a matter of course, everyone I interact with is either ambitious enough to be career and/or education focused or privileged enough that that much is expected of them at some point.
I had to check my privilege at the door of the salon, it was a whole new world for me. Mothers anywhere from 20 years old to 40, with three or four little kids at home and at least one of them a toddler. They discussed the barbie videos and cooed over every infant or small child somebody brought in the door. When my (probably younger than me) stylist asked if I had any kids I just said simply "not yet." I avoided questions about the future, pretending I didn't have it figured out. I learned with two kids at home she was saving up to get married. Whenever her and her spouse to be could afford it. When asked where she said "around here" so probably nowhere ritzy. A family member of another one of the stylists was next to me and talking about their respective kids and families. About a family friend who had four kids at home, whom they criticized for "getting rid of" who knows how many. Only a quick mention of the abortion they were likely against, yet critical of a woman having so many babies she clearly couldn't take care of. They were worried about her going back to jail and the woman wondering whether she could take one of the kids who was close in age and went to the same school as one of her own children. But her husband had warned her they "didn't have room" for another kid at home. Likely could not afford to feed and care for, not so much a lack of space. At one point the soon to be husband of my stylist came in and talked to her briefly before heading back to work. Both of them working on a Saturday, if he was on a break from work he probably wasn't in a very lucrative career as there isn't much out there.
It's not that I'm not used to running into working class people, but working class families not so much. People for whom being a hairstylist or a handyman is probably a good enough way to keep on living. That having child #3 was a joy to be looked forward to more than anything else in their life. They were all connected on Facebook and gossipped about what people had posted on there or what real life friends had cut off contact. I'm not on facebook so I couldn't really relate. There was no mention of the internet culture I am a part of, no mention of videos or news articles. No interest in "a study I read about the other day" or anything beyond the lives of their families. Even work just something that made having a family possible. A satisfied, mostly happy non-ambitious lifestyle.