Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Hot Under the Collar

This morning I got a bit hot under the collar in regards to a comment made by DH. I snapped back that he was being a snob, and then he was upset because I wasn't allowing him to have an opinion. I'm sorry I snapped, and we both are coming from different points of view here. The comment was about people who work at fast food joints, and that's all I'll go into.

Here's my thing. If you haven't been poor and lived not knowing where the money will come from to pay rent and buy groceries, then I have a very difficult time when people judge those who are living that way. Are some living that way because they prefer it? Sure, but let me assure you that it is not the life of luxury that some would make it sound like. Having to use food stamps (in those days anyway) and getting medical assistance to pay for doctor visits is not fun. I vividly remember paying with food stamps at the grocery store and the looks that the cashier or the person in line behind us would give my mom. I remember the blue paper card you had to give the medical receptionist for insurance and everyone knowing what that card was. It meant you were poor and couldn't afford health insurance or food on your own.

I've heard poeple say, "oh they can just go get a job" about someone on assistance. Well, it's not that simple. Many are women, mothers in fact. Well, there is the issue of daycare. They need money to get the kids into daycare, but can't pay for daycare until they have a job. And they can't work the job until they have daycare. And if they work at night, who will watch the kids. You have to find a nighttime sitter or daycare person. Maybe the person was laid off from their job. Maybe they had a major medical illness that bankrupted them or caused them to lose their job. Or what about the woman who has been a stay-at-home mom for years and something happens where she is on her own, she has no higher education possibly. Where does she start? Sometimes working at a fast food joint is all they can get. But you know what, they are working. Why does it matter where?

The first time I realized we were poor was when I was so excited to have gotten a new pair of jeans. Then when I got to school and was showing them off, someone asked where I got them from. See, they were purchased at Goodwill. And then I found out that other people don't buy clothes at Goodwill. What a memory, huh?

I grew up loved and cherished. I know that I was rich in so many other things, things that money could not buy. Money is not everything. Yes, it helps if you have it. And I enjoy being able to buy things for my kids that my mom couldn't buy for me when I was little. But what I want to pass on to my kids is that no matter where you come from, they are special and can do anything they want when they grow up. I want them to be proud of themselves and do good things for others. At a time in our society when "things" are important, I fear the loss of humanity at times. Being kind to another, simply smiling at someone can change that person's day.

So, if I get a bit hot under the collar when someone talks about "those" people in poverty, that's just how it is. My mom did everything she could to keep me clothed and fed, and eventually work her way off governmental assistance. The majority of individuals who need assistance may just need a helping hand to get back on their feet, who knows? You don't know their personal situation so please do not judge them.

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