03/08/2009 05:12 am ET Updated Nov 17, 2011

Half a Mill? Times Are Tough

Bankers who take taxpayer money to bail out their companies are facing a pay cut to $500,000 and a close eye on spending. Here in Fairfield County, CT home of several of America's wealthiest communities, the sound of gnashing teeth cuts through the chill winter air. I mean really, how dare the government put restraints on salaries or tell the bankers what they can buy with the money? By the way. I grew up living more like the women in the car than the woman in the grocery store. Today? My husband is out of work. Perspective is the great equalizer.

Let's imagine two well coiffed, Botoxed and manicured women from a fictional town in Fairfield County, "New Stamienwich" driving to a charity luncheon in Bridgeport, the largest and poorest city in Connecticut.

"Cynthia, are you sure you know where we're going? I do not want to get lost here. And we're running late as it is."

"Stop worrying. Although I'm starting to wish I'd taken the Range Rover, it has GPS. I let Cameron take it today, she's going up to Cornell for a college visit. I was late because Ping Pong ran twenty minutes behind on my nail fill."

"Ping Pong?" (Laughing.)

"She has a Vietnamese name I cannot pronounce. The restaurant is somewhere near the train station. We'll find it. Remind me, why are we trekking to this event?"

"Because Celia is the Chairperson and we need to support her. God, poor Celia. I've heard she might have to go back to work since, well, you know, since our husband's salaries were high jacked by the Boy Scouts in DC. It's a travesty."

"Don't I know it. I had to tell Magda we're cutting back her hours and this nail fill had damn well better last me two weeks. Hunter has given me a spending ultimatum. Can you believe that? We might even put the house on Fisher Island on the market as a rental this summer."

"Ew. Strangers in your house? That's horrible. God, where are we? It's hard to believe we're only twenty miles from home. Wait -- is that a satellite dish coming out of that apartment window? Unreal."

"And you can bet there's a flat screen TV inside."

"Whoops, that's my phone ringing -- will you grab it? I don't have my Bluetooth on and I am not getting pulled over here."

"Sure. Ooh, is this the new Jimmy Choo handbag? Gorgeous! I have to get one. 'Hello, Cynthia's answering service! Hi, Celia, yes, we're on our way... What? Oh, crap! We forgot. I'll tell her. See you in a bit, sweetie.'"

"What did we forget?"

"The luncheon is for some food bank and we're supposed to bring a bag of groceries."

"What, a check isn't enough? We're a long way from Balducci's. Don't look at me like that!"

"You're awful! There's a Stop and Shop. Let's go in and we'll grab a few things."

Tick Tock.

"Hurry up - we have enough mac and cheese and peanut butter in this cart to feed all of Bridgeport. Line seven doesn't look too bad."

"Pssssst. Look at that -- she's buying steak."

"Oh my God, you're right. And an awful lot of Pepsi. What's wrong with store brands?"

"Shshshsh! She'll hear you!"

"May I have your Stop and Shop card, ma'am?"

"Oh - I don't have a card. That woman who just left. Looks like she's eating high off the hog tonight. Is that even allowed on food stamps? You know, buying steak?"

"That's Cathy Jackson. Her husband died last year, she lost her job in October and her 19 year old son just got back from Iraq. I'm guessing she's having a welcome home dinner for him."


"Have a nice day, ma'am."

Tick Tock.

"I'll call Celia and tell her we're on our way before she has a fit. Put the groceries on the back seat, Jackson's hockey equipment is hogging the trunk."

"Can you believe that welfare woman? Hasn't she ever heard of Hamburger Helper?

"As if. What a waste of our taxpayer money."

"Let's go. I'm starving."

"Me too."