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Alyssa Mayo: The silent passengers in California

Alyssa Mayo
Other Voices

I am born and raised Californian. Both of my parents are born and raised Americans. They received their educations, developed their own businesses, and worked hard for every cent they made.

They bought land in California and built a home from the ground up. I grew up working beside them, learning the value of a hard-work ethic.

I went to college and discovered it wasn’t for me. I’ve completed continuing education courses and developed my skills for my career. I’ve worked under people I admire, and people I don’t, because that’s what I needed to do.

I’ve traveled to Third-World countries. I’ve also traveled to first-world countries. I’ve studied other cultures. I’ve studied different religions.

I am as middle class American as they come. But because I live in California, I am surviving … far from thriving.

I believe in helping others. I’ve created fundraisers, I’ve donated my time and money to causes. But I also believe that you cannot contribute to others or your community without a strong foundation in your own life.

I haven’t suffered like some, but I haven’t prospered like others. I am as middle class American as they come. But because I live in California, I am surviving … far from thriving.

I work 50-plus hours per week. I manage our family-built company. After over 30% of my income is taken for taxes, I make less than $40,000 per year. I am 32 years old. No kids. Never been married. And I cannot afford to live alone. I only do so because of the generosity of people who love me.

I have no health insurance. I make too much for free health insurance. Yet, at $500 per month with a $5,000 deductible, I make too little to afford the basics.

Every day, I watch people that I respect and love leave California. People who I admire for their strong work ethics and amazing values. But they’re tired. They’re tired of having what they’ve created stripped from them. They’re tired of watching the home state they love crumble around them. They’re leaving the homes they built with love, sweat, and blood, so they can do more than just survive.

I talk to people about our current issues in California. So many rely on what the media portrays or what politicians state and promise. They listen to talk show hosts, news reporters, celebrities … very few stop and open their eyes and look at what’s in front of them.

In California, I see homelessness rising, hard drugs becoming more accessible, hard work and morals disappearing, self-reliance, and self-awareness, becoming foreign concepts, crumbling roads, power shutoffs, and family businesses closing.

Accepting responsibility for your actions no longer matters. “I made a mistake” is a four-letter word.

I’m sitting here, waiting for the next power shutoff from PG&E and I feel defeated. I’ve called my clients and canceled their appointments. Clients who need my help and I am unable to help them.

We have purchased a generator that our small, family-owned business can’t afford, but it’s been back-ordered again. Back-ordered because so many Californians have purchased generataors, that they also can’t afford, just so they can have the simple luxury of turning on their lights and refrigerating their food.

I’m afraid of the backlash of sharing my story. I’m afraid of the effect it will have on my business that I’ve worked so hard to develop. I’m afraid of the friends, and clients, and community members, who I will lose because of my speaking out. But I’m also tired.

I’m tired of being a silent passenger on this train to Hell. I’m tired of being spoken for, and represented by, people with no real comprehension of what I’m experiencing. What so many of us are experiencing.

California is my home. This ranch I love is my home. If I could pick up the land and move it, I would. If I could gather my friends, and family, and my clients who I love, and transport them to another state, I would.

I know that I am not alone. I know that there are other middle American Californians who are struggling silently. And I understand the defeat that you must feel. Please know that you are not alone either.

California will get worse. I don’t know what the next downhill slide will be. But I’m sure that it will result in losing more hard-working Americans in this state. For those of us who remain, feebly bucketing out the ever-growing rising water, we will continue to hope for a miracle. A miracle to save our home. A miracle that may never come.

Alyssa Mayo lives in Penn Valley.


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