Friday, September 16, 2005

"Being Poor"

The Chicago Tribune's John Scalzi has delivered one of the most poignant descriptions of poverty I've ever seen. Don't miss it.

Being poor is a box of crayons and a $1 coloring book from a community center Santa.

Being poor is checking the coin return slot of every soda machine you go by.

Being poor is deciding that it's all right to base a relationship on shelter.

Being poor is hoping the register lady will spot you the dime.

Being poor is feeling helpless when your children make the same mistakes you did and won't listen to you beg them against doing so.

Being poor is a cough that doesn't go away.

Being poor is making sure you don't spill on the couch, just in case you have to give it back before the lease is up.

Being poor is a $200 paycheck advance from a company that takes $250 when the paycheck comes in.

Being poor is four years of night classes for an associate of arts degree.

Being poor is a lumpy futon bed.

Being poor is knowing where the shelter is.

Being poor is people who have never been poor wondering why you choose to be so.

Being poor is knowing how hard it is to stop being poor.

Being poor is seeing how few options you have.

Being poor is running in place.

Being poor is people wondering why you didn't leave.


Hat tip: Eloy

1 comment:

Geo_Chick said...

We went thru a few years of being really poor when I was a kid. It meant all those things and more. I now know we can live on beans and eggs as your sole sources of protein. There is also that free cheese and peanut butter you can get from the shelters and those are a treat. As a sick kid it was knowing that my being sick and having to go to the Dr meant that our family would have to go a lot longer without meat, or any treats. It was the embarrasement of a free lunch and dirty looks at the store using the food stamps. And still being hungry so often. It was thinking of halloween as the once chance a year to get candy so you had better make that stuff last. The thing you don't get if you haven't lived it is the guilt. I mean I was a little kid and I felt it so deeply. I wanted things and felt guilty for wanting, I was jealous and felt guilty for that, my family was hungry and I was guilty for eating what I did. The list goes on, and there needs to be a safety net for those who can't make it alone. We were doing OK and then my dad was severely injured in a work accident. The insurance ran out, mom had to quit work to take care of dad, and we lived on welfare. People don't realize how close so many are to the edge.