I have the day off and given the season my plan for the afternoon is to catch up on a bunch of yard work. I'm not a yard perfectionist by any stretch. Nor do we live in one of those neighborhoods which tries to enforce lawn and garden perfection. But when one owns a lawn, one wants it to look nice. And as it's finally creeping up on the frost date, I want to be able to turn my attention to the vegetable garden in the next couple weeks.
What is more, now that I work for a company that sells lawn and garden products, and my neighbors know this, I feel a certain duty to not look utterly disgraceful. And I have this sense that somehow I'm staying in touch with my hard working middle class roots by doing all my own outside work and not being one of "those people" who hire someone to do it.
There's a lot of worry about "those people" at work, since they don't buy consumer lawn and garden care products. They may put down week killers and insect killer and fertilizers, but they're likely to buy in bulk and go with commodity brands. They don't buy the top shelf products.
This week I had a new employee starting on my team who hails from the Republic of Congo. One of the first steps is getting to know the products, so in the afternoon I took him out to Home Depot and Lowes to look over the relevant sections of the store and discuss the industry. After an hour of touring the garden section he asked me whether the company sold much into the developing world. We don't. He nodded and observed it seemed hard to imagine people back home buying plant food specially formulated for orchids or fertilizers that make your lawn greener while killing weeds.
I figured that this might be the wrong moment to explain that people worried the US was becoming too affluent to bother with our products. Still, I'll at least have the knowledge that in venturing out to trim my grass and mulch around the new apple tree, I am at least in union with many centuries of oft-mocked Anglo-sphere bourgeois before me.