even in a family obsessed with money, sometimes some things are priceless

even in a family obsessed with money, sometimes some things are priceless

My family is obsessed with the price of things. The two questions I hear most often are: “Have you eaten?” and “How much was it?” Talking about the price of something is like breathing for them. It is impossible to buy anything without dwelling interminably on the price of the object, the price it should have cost, the price it cost on sale compared to the normal price, the use of a reduction voucher and, if not, the reasons for the absence of a voucher.

My extended family lives in Hong Kong. My grandparents grew up there during the Japanese occupation. Like many people who have gone through periods of severe deprivation and bereavement, understandably they have become obsessed with security. Their children – my mother and her siblings – inherited this scarcity mentality. In short, they think a lot about money.

A way to classify people

I live in Los Angeles, I make a decent living writing for television. My mother and father live in Dallas, she is a kindergarten teacher and he is a part-time pastor in a small church. They live modestly and have some small savings.

I have been taking my mother to Hong Kong for years to visit the many relatives we have there.

For my family, money is not just something you accumulate at the expense of pleasure. It is also a means of classifying people on the social scale. Recently, we went to the Hong Kong Palace Museum. The visit lasted six hours and we had a lunch break at the restaurant of the museum. I ordered a latte which was rather weak.

After an hour of chatting, I felt the fatigue returning and got up to get an espresso – which would keep me going for the rest of the visit. When I came back, my eagle-eyed aunts noticed the cup in my hand.

“How much was it? asked Dai Ji Maa, the eldest.

— $30 (from Hong Kong, around 3 US dollars at the time).

– Wow! Quite expensive for something so small.”

My family held a conference and came to an agreement. It was too expensive. The cup was too small. The cash-to-dollar ratio was completely out of balance.

“It’s smaller, but there’s more caffeine, I argued.

– It’s okay, replied Kau Mou, my uncle’s wife. She must be rich.”

For the next twenty-four hours, I was thoroughly trolled for spending $3. It was as if I had caused the wealth gaps all by myself. All this in a good mood, but it proves that in my family no dollar spent goes unnoticed.

The next time I came back with a drink and they asked how much it cost, I overdid it: “It was free!” I said, brandishing a huge cup of cream.

#family #obsessed #money #priceless

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