Wednesday, September 21, 2005

John Scalzi: Being Poor

(In case you don't know... )

BEING POOR
By John Scalzi
Chicago Tribune

Being poor is knowing exactly how much everything costs.

Being poor is getting angry at your kids for asking for all the crap
they see on TV.

Being poor is having to keep buying $800 cars because they're what you
can afford, and then having the cars break down on you, because there's
not an $800 car in America that's worth a damn.

Being poor is hoping the toothache goes away.

Being poor is knowing your kid goes to friends' houses but never has
friends over to yours.

Being poor is going to the restroom before you get in the school lunch
line so your friends will be ahead of you and won't hear you say "I get
free lunch" when you get to the cashier.

Being poor is living next to the freeway.

Being poor is wondering whether your well-off sibling is lying when he
says he doesn't mind when you ask for help.

Being poor is off-brand toys.

Being poor is a heater in only one room of the house.

Being poor is hoping your kids don't have a growth spurt.

Being poor is stealing meat from the store, frying it up before your
mom gets home and then telling her she doesn't have to make dinner
tonight because you're not hungry anyway.

Being poor is not enough space for everyone who lives with you.

Being poor is feeling the glued soles tear off your supermarket shoes
when you run around the playground.

Being poor is your kid's school being the one with the 15-year-old
textbooks and no air conditioning.

Being poor is thinking $8 an hour is a really good deal.

Being poor is relying on people who don't give a damn about you.

Being poor is finding the letter your mom wrote to your dad begging him
for the child support.

Being poor is a bathtub you have to empty into the toilet.

Being poor is stopping the car to take a lamp from a stranger's trash.

Being poor is making lunch for your kid when a cockroach skitters over
the bread, and you looking over to see whether your kid saw.

Being poor is believing a GED actually makes a difference.

Being poor is people angry at you just for walking around in the mall.

Being poor is not taking the job because you can't find someone you
trust to watch your kids.

Being poor is the police busting into the apartment right next to yours.

Being poor is not talking to that girl because she'll probably just
laugh at your clothes.

Being poor is hoping you'll be invited for dinner.

Being poor is a sidewalk with lots of brown glass on it.

Being poor is people thinking they know something about you by the way
you talk.

Being poor is needing that 35-cent raise.

Being poor is your kid's teacher assuming you don't have any books in
your home.

Being poor is $6 short on the utility bill and no way to close the gap.

Being poor is crying when you drop the mac and cheese on the floor.

Being poor is knowing you work as hard as anyone, anywhere.

Being poor is people surprised to discover you're not actually stupid.

Being poor is people surprised to discover you're not actually lazy.

Being poor is never buying anything someone else hasn't bought first.

Being poor is picking the 10-cent ramen noodles instead of the 12-cent
ramen noodles because that's two extra packages for every dollar.

Being poor is getting tired of people wanting you to be grateful.

Being poor is knowing you're being judged.

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.

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John Scalzi is the author of "Old Man's War."

Article Link: Copyright © 2005, Chicago Tribune

2 comments:

Susannity! (Susanne) said...

People are probably going to laugh at the ramen one, but it is SO true. You can't afford soda or anything yummy to drink, so you look at kool-aid as a special treat, but you can't afford real kool-aid, so you buy the cheaper copy that gives you 12 packets for a buck. It's funny because only some of our oldest friends know where we've (my husband and I) been in our life. My husband and I sometimes sit in our big ass 4600sf house in an upscale neighborhood populated by those with bank and look at each other and marvel at what we have accomplished, and what we have attained. But you never forget, and it still stays with you and the decisions you make even with more money than you ever dreamed possible for your life - isn't that funny? I thrill when I buy real kool-aid. =)

My hobby said...

thanks, although I've heard from different instances similar remarks, I never read something as complete as yours about being poor.
and I am poor.
but I have a question.
once we had a a jewisch-american film director, and teacher at the art-school of chicago show some works at our cinemathèque in karlsruhe (south germany).
one of his works was a really loose movie about chicago. it was more like puzzles of night life and beyond all hollywood standards, an absolute culturally voyeuristic fetish. Someone had a question regarding a wonderful scene at a train station showing many black americans coming back from work. He said the guy saw him with the big profi camera and asked him for some money. He answered: "...and I gave him some money...because he was poor."
At that time I thought he meant that that guy was more culturally poor because he was not able to understand his passion for filming the city, its soul. I so it more in spiritual terms.
But as more time passed I become more and more keen on the direct sense of the word. And that's why I was so glad to read it.