The man smiled and said: "Yes, that's what I said, all right."
The interrogator glared at him, then barked: "Why did you say that?"
"Why?" the man said. "Because I am happy."
"Then tell me this - do you deny that you are a member of the middle class?"
"I suppose I am, although I'm not sure what part I'm a member of. Upper- middle, lower-middle or middle-middle. Does it matter?"
"Don't try to evade the issue. I'm talking about the forgotten middle- class. Do you deny being forgotten?"
"To tell the truth, I haven't thought about that. Who forgot me?"
"The government. The power structure. Everyone. That's why you are forgotten."
"Oh, I don't care. They probably have more on their minds, anyway."
"You don't care about being forgotten?"
"Not really. My family remembers me. So do my friends, and the people at work. That's enough. Any more, and the cost of sending Christmas cards would be overwhelming."
"You deny feeling pain, suffering and hurting, and wanting someone to understand your hurt?"
"Honest, I feel fine. Used to have a little back pain, but a chiropractor popped it out. Want his name?"
"So you feel fine. And I suppose you don't have a sense of uncertainty about the future, a feeling that you don't know what's going to happen?"
"Of course I do."
"Ah-hah! So you do share the national anxiety that the future is bleak."
"No, you said I had a sense of uncertainty about the future, and I do,
because nobody knows what the future holds, right? It could rain, or the sun could shine."
"I'm talking about the big picture: the sense of foreboding that the nation is adrift, society lacks direction, we are falling behind, the rich get richer and the poor get poorer."
"I don't know, most people I know have one or two cars, a roof over their heads, one and a half TV sets, a stereo, beer in the fridge . . ."
"Are you saying that you are better off today than you were 10 years ago?"
"No, I'm not saying that."
"Than you admit sharing the sense that conditions have grown worse, that you fear we are on a long, downhill slide."
"I didn't say that. You asked me about 10 years ago. Ten years ago, I didn't have this bald spot on top of my head and I didn't need bifocals, so naturally I don't feel as good as I did 10 years ago. The only people better than they were 10 years ago are people who are 9 years old."
"You mention the young. So tell me this: Do you believe that your children will be better off than you? Or that their children will be better off?"
"See? You do share the forgotten middle-class's foreboding that the American dream will no longer be within everyone's reach."
"I don't have any foreboding. But it's natural. This country isn't getting any younger, you know. We had all those immigrants come here who couldn't speak English and took lousy jobs. So their kids went to school and got better jobs. Then the next generation went to college and did even better. Now what? Everybody can't wind up running a company or being a professor, so it was bound to level off. But don't worry. Get enough insurance and when you croak, there ought to be enough to plant you and maybe give the kids a downstroke for a three-flat."
"This is very peculiar. I hope you realize that you have all the wrong attitudes and that we might have to disqualify you from any future polls or man-on-the-street interviews."