In the Real World
Believe it or not, there are lots of jobs where you'll need to know algebra—including some exciting ones involving explosives. Especially jobs where you're hired to blow up inequalities.
Check out the US Military site and search for algebra; it appears in quite a few job descriptions. You know, like You + Algebra = America.
Algebra is useful because it provides a convenient way to solve lots of different types of problems. If we can turn a problem into an equation or inequality, then we can solve the problem by solving the equation or inequality. We don't need to think about the original problem until it comes time to actually write down the answer, when we need to make sure we're answering the right question.
It's like the bus that takes you from Point A to Point B, and you only need to wake up five minutes before you get there to make sure you're getting off at the right stop. Point B, in case you've forgotten.