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22 September 2010

Gah, stop bringing back those memories, jerk.

(Not really a jerk).

Not sure if anyone saw all those boring rice posts I made on Twitter last week. But last Thursday, in the morning I put a cup of rice in some water to soak the starch out, then went to work.

At work I discovered there was actually a Mefimeet that evening, and I had nothing on. But I spent most of the day thinking, "Crap, I would have liked to go to that, but I can't because the rice won't keep another day."

Eventually I realised I could just throw away the damn rice. I have a full-time professional job and I can afford loads of rice.

Sorry for the guys who can't.
posted by TheophileEscargot 22 September | 05:09
That was what growing up was for me, happy that's not my lot any more but I can still appreciate what that's like.
posted by octothorpe 22 September | 06:28
I had some good $800 cars in my day because I bought them from a mechanic.
posted by Obscure Reference 22 September | 07:41
i hate it when people who have never themselves been poor or known anyone who was poor think poor people choose to be poor.

posted by sio42 22 September | 08:13
yeah, ditto octothorpe.
posted by gaspode 22 September | 09:03
Wow, great post. These three especially hit home:

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

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

Being poor is people wondering why you didnít leave.
posted by bearwife 22 September | 11:26
I have thankfully never been in these situations, but it's startling to realize when someone you're close to has.

My partner/fiance (anyone want to come up with a new word for that?) grew up with some of these things, and certainly knows people who had less. And he's doing well now, but... okay, here's an example. He needed a laptop, so instead of going to or even Best Buy he bought a low-end used one at Mr. Money. It was missing a bunch of keys, including the tab and shift, so he moved the Q or something over. He ended up buying a new one, but it was a $200 Compaq that had no external sound. So one day it was on the fritz for some reason or other, and he started grumping about it out loud, saying, "Why do I always have these crappy things that don't work?" And here I was on the other end of the couch with my little MacBook Pro (because I had the luxury of being picky), realizing that that's what he still thinks he has to buy.

The part that gets me is not just the present aspect of this situation; it's the unseen past privilege that allows middle-class-and-up folks able to do okay for comparatively less. So my parents have a nice house, in a good area of town, because my grandma gave them the down payment and served as their "banker." (An advantage I won't have.) We can drive legally -- a skill required for many jobs -- because even if we hadn't been able to pay any parking/speeding/expired plate/no insurance tickets (which we probably wouldn't have had anyway because we could, you know, pay for our plates when they were due), someone could have covered for us before our licenses got taken away.

So... yeah.
posted by Madamina 22 September | 12:11
Yes, being poor truly sucks. Gah, I hated having to buy clothes from Goodwill, but at least we got new, if cheap, underwear. Throw that in on top of being abused and neglected and homeless a couple times, it's a pretty fucked up childhood.
posted by deborah 22 September | 14:45
Nuc, did you choose this because of the Angry Rich blog dust-up? If not, where'd you find it? Nah, don't give away your secrets.
posted by dhartung 22 September | 17:09
Being poor and being in the advanced classes in elementary school was brutal. No one fucking likes you; the poor kids think you're all snooty and the rich kids laugh at your kmart shoes, thrift store jeans and taped up glasses. There's part of me that always that poor kid from New Jersey.
posted by octothorpe 22 September | 17:19
Yep, growing up poor, hand-me-down clothes, eldest child of a (gasp!) divorced single mother. We shopped at cheap stores, but we had food, we had love, and we had a roof over our heads. When I started working, I saved as much as I could, even bought my mom a new-for-her used car when hers cost too much to fix.

I am financially okay right now (poor choices in past husbands doesn't help, lol) but very cautious when it comes to money. I've worked since I was 16, own my own home, drive a car from this decade, and my kids and I have computers, dvd players, and gaming systems. We've got love, food, and a roof over our heads. That's the most important thing.
posted by redvixen 22 September | 18:29
Yeah, eldest child (of four) of a divorced single mother in the late 60's when kids like me were referred to as coming from a 'broken home'. My Mother worked herself to exhaustion every day just to make ends meet and ended up emigrating to get out of the rut of never seeing sunlight Monday - Friday for a large part of the year, because the only job she could get involved her catching a bus to arrive at work before dawn and not leaving the office until after sundown. In those days, divorced women were virtually unemployable (loose morals, obviously) and were the subject of all sorts of cruelty from arsehole bosses who could do what they liked knowing that the women had no choice but to take it.

I was in this position myself for a couple of years (only one child, though) and it really brought home to me what she went through to give us the best she could.

One of the comments came close to bringing a tear to my eye:
Being poor means that you laugh hysterically when you watch the financial planning segments of the today show, because the thought of starting a college fund for your child is so far beyond the pale that if you don't laugh, you'll start crying and never stop. (my emphasis)

To me, though, being poor means always having to say you're sorry. Sorry to the landlord, sorry to the electricity company, sorry to the phone company but, most of all, sorry to your child/ren. Sorry that they get the same boring food every day because you have to budget so tightly to make sure they get reasonable nutrition, sorry that they can only have a friend sleep over if they come after dinner because there's just no more food, sorry they can only go to the movies as a very occasional treat (and you sneak your own popcorn in), sorry that they have to walk to school in the rain because there's no money for fuel. It just goes on and on until you end up just feeling sorry about everything.

I'm doing OK now, financially, but I don't think you ever get over being poor. It's still there in your head - the knowledge that you could easily end up back there. This is something that people who have never been there simply don't have - if you've never been there, you don't have that fear of ending up back in the same situation. How much worse this sort of situation must be in a country without free health care is inconceivable to me. I do get some inkling, though, every time my son has another round of surgery when I think 'if we didn't have access to free health care, there is no way this surgery would be happening, ever'. When I think of how much the surgery has helped him, it makes me angry that so-called 'civilised' countries deny this absolutely basic right to their citizens.
posted by dg 22 September | 22:26
Thankfully I didn't grow up poor, nor am I poor now. My wife, though, was born into a home without electricity or running water, and vividly remembers having to wear the same pair of sneakers for three years (including upstate New York winters) because her parents couldn't afford another pair. By the time she got new sneakers, her toes had been poking out for some time.
posted by Doohickie 22 September | 22:36
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