Best of Silicon Valley - Taking Stock of Our Assets

[ 'Best of' Index | San Jose | Metroactive Central | Archives ]

[whitespace] Ways 2 Feel Big

Feeling small? Sometimes it's the little things that count

By Gordon Young

IF LIVING in the Bay Area is so damn great, if the economy is so robust, and if technology is making our lives so much better, then why the hell is everyone so cranky around here? It seems as though everyone thinks everyone else has it good. If you feel like you're missing out on the good life, here are a few simple ways to build your self-esteem, soothe your psyche and create the illusion that you're beating the rich at their own game.

  • Always opt for the spacious, double-wide handicap stall in public restrooms, unless it's already occupied. You may be forced to live in a damp basement studio for $1,100 a month in the real world, but you can take comfort in the knowledge that you control the most prime piece of real estate in the bathroom while you take care of business. Think about it: Bill Gates could walk in and even he would be forced to settle for a simple urinal, shoulder to shoulder with complete strangers, while you luxuriate in the Taj Mahal of toilets.

    COST: Nothing (excluding possible fines for violating the Americans with Disabilities Act)

  • Go to Palo Alto or Los Gatos on Friday or Saturday afternoon and secure a prime parking space. Then kill some time--grab a beer, go to a bookstore, do a little reading in a coffee shop, enjoy a nice walk. These are enjoyable activities, but the fun really starts around 8, when the khaki-pants brigade starts their invasion. When the parking situation gets really horrendous--cars parked on the sidewalk are always a good indicator--head back to your car. Linger as you insert the key into the door. Once you have attracted the attention of an SUV desperately in need of a space, get in your car and, once again, kill a little time. Once the SUV owners are starting to wonder what the hell is going on, get out of your car, make eye contact with the gas hogs, and mouth the words "So sorry" with an exaggerated frown. Then have a good laugh and head back to the bar. Repeat as many times as necessary.

    COST: $0

  • Become a regular at a bar by being friendly and tipping big. Nothing beats being well known (in a good way) at a bar. And as a former waiter and bartender, I know that nothing works better than generous tips and a low-key attitude. And it all evens out in the end. When the bar fills up with rich dotcommers, you'll be the one who gets free drinks and fast service, not them.

    COST: Tip 25 percent on all drinks for at least three months

  • Avoid road rage by being unfailingly polite in all traffic situations. Just rise above all the petty concerns associated with driving. After all, do you think the clowns in the Mercedes SUV care if you give them the finger? You get all worked up, and they get the pleasure of thinking they screwed the little guy once again. Relax. Your calm, laid-back demeanor will thoroughly confuse them as they wonder, "How can that guy be so happy when he's driving a Camry?"

    COST: $0

  • Whenever you are about to leave any place where anyone is within earshot, look at your watch, mumble "Oh God" and hurry out. This gives you the appearance of having an active social life and/or an important job.

    COST: $0, unless you need to buy a watch

  • Don't buy extended warranties on anything. They're a rip-off. Do you think the manufacturer would offer you this option if they thought their product would break? A salesman I know at an electronics store told me they refer to extended warranty sales as "selling the cheese." It's considered pure profit.

    COST: $0

  • Have at least one item in your wardrobe that is top of the line. In most cases, you'll have to settle for a good pair of socks. Try cashmere. They feel great, and you can walk with pride knowing that even the richest prig in the world (excluding royalty, who may, at any given moment, have on a pair of ermine stockings or some other bizarre extravagance) doesn't have a nicer pair of socks than you do.

    COST: $35

    [ San Jose | Metroactive Central | Archives ]

  • From the September 28-October 4, 2000 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

    Copyright © 2000 Metro Publishing Inc. Metroactive is affiliated with the Boulevards Network.

    For more information about the San Jose/Silicon Valley area, visit

    Foreclosures - Real Estate Investing
    San Real Estate