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There's no way to structure this coherently. They are random observations that might help explain the mental processes. But often, I think that we look at the academic problems of poverty and have no idea of the why. We know the what and the how, and we can see systemic problems, but it's rare to have a poor person actually explain it on their own behalf. So this is me doing that, sort of.
Rest is a luxury for the rich. I get up at 6AM, go to school (I have a full course load, but I only have to go to two in-person classes) then work, then I get the kids, then I pick up my husband, then I have half an hour to change and go to Job 2. I get home from that at around 12:30AM, then I have the rest of my classes and work to tend to. I'm in bed by 3. This isn't every day, I have two days off a week from each of my obligations. I use that time to clean the house and soothe Mr. Martini and see the kids for longer than an hour and catch up on schoolwork. Those nights I'm in bed by midnight, but if I go to bed too early I won't be able to stay up the other nights because I'll # my pattern up, and I drive an hour home from Job 2 so I can't afford to be sleepy. I never get a day off from work unless I am fairly sick. It doesn't leave you much room to think about what you are doing, only to attend to the next thing and the next. Planning isn't in the mix.
When I got pregnant the first time, I was living in a weekly motel. I had a minifridge with no freezer and a microwave. I was on WIC. I ate peanut butter from the jar and frozen burritos because they were 12/$2. Had I had a stove, I couldn't have made beef burritos that cheaply. And I needed the meat, I was pregnant. I might not have had any prenatal care, but I am intelligent enough to eat protein and iron whilst knocked up.
I know how to cook. I had to take Home Ec to graduate high school. Most people on my level didn't. Broccoli is intimidating. You have to have a working stove, and pots, and spices, and you'll have to do the dishes no matter how tired you are or they'll attract bugs. It is a huge new skill for a lot of people. That's not great, but it's true. And if you # it up, you could make your family sick. We have learned not to try too hard to be middle-class. It never works out well and always makes you feel worse for having tried and failed yet again. Better not to try. It makes more sense to get food that you know will be palatable and cheap and that keeps well. Junk food is a pleasure that we are allowed to have; why would we give that up? We have very few of them.
The closest Planned Parenthood to me is three hours. That's a lot of money in gas. Lots of women can't afford that, and even if you live near one you probably don't want to be seen coming in and out in a lot of areas. We're aware that we are not "having kids," we're "breeding." We have kids for much the same reasons that I imagine rich people do. Urge to propagate and all. Nobody likes poor people procreating, but they judge abortion even harder.
Convenience food is just that. And we are not allowed many conveniences. Especially since the Patriot Act passed, it's hard to get a bank account. But without one, you spend a lot of time figuring out where to cash a check and get money orders to pay bills. Most motels now have a no-credit-card-no-room policy. I wandered around SF for five hours in the rain once with nearly a thousand dollars on me and could not rent a room even if I gave them a $500 cash deposit and surrendered my cell phone to the desk to hold as surety.
Nobody gives enough thought to depression. You have to understand that we know that we will never not feel tired. We will never feel hopeful. We will never get a vacation. Ever. We know that the very act of being poor guarantees that we will never not be poor. It doesn't give us much reason to improve ourselves. We don't apply for jobs because we know we can't afford to look nice enough to hold them. I would make a super legal secretary, but I've been turned down more than once because I "don't fit the image of the firm," which is a nice way of saying "gtfo, pov." I am good enough to cook the food, hidden away in the kitchen, but my boss won't make me a server because I don't "fit the corporate image." I am not beautiful. I have missing teeth and skin that looks like it will when you live on B12 and coffee and nicotine and no sleep. Beauty is a thing you get when you can afford it, and that's how you get the job that you need in order to be beautiful. There isn't much point trying.
Cooking attracts roaches. Nobody realizes that. I've spent a lot of hours impaling roach bodies and leaving them out on toothpick pikes to discourage others from entering. It doesn't work, but is amusing.
"Free" only exists for rich people. It's great that there's a bowl of condoms at my school, but most poor people will never set foot on a college campus. We don't belong there. There's a clinic? Great! There's still a copay. We're not going. Besides, all they'll tell you at the clinic is that you need to see a specialist, which seriously? Might as well be located on Mars for how accessible it is. "Low-cost" and "sliding scale" sounds like "money you have to spend" to me, and they can't actually help you anyway.
I smoke. It's expensive. It's also the best option. You see, I am always, always exhausted. It's a stimulant. When I am too tired to walk one more step, I can smoke and go for another hour. When I am enraged and beaten down and incapable of accomplishing one more thing, I can smoke and I feel a little better, just for a minute. It is the only relaxation I am allowed. It is not a good decision, but it is the only one that I have access to. It is the only thing I have found that keeps me from collapsing or exploding.
I make a lot of poor financial decisions. None of them matter, in the long term. I will never not be poor, so what does it matter if I don't pay a thing and a half this week instead of just one thing? It's not like the sacrifice will result in improved circumstances; the thing holding me back isn't that I blow five bucks at Wendy's. It's that now that I have proven that I am a Poor Person that is all that I am or ever will be. It is not worth it to me to live a bleak life devoid of small pleasures so that one day I can make a single large purchase. I will never have large pleasures to hold on to. There's a certain pull to live what bits of life you can while there's money in your pocket, because no matter how responsible you are you will be broke in three days anyway. When you never have enough money it ceases to have meaning. I imagine having a lot of it is the same thing.
reply to post by OneManArmy
Omg now you mentioned it lol I thought somebody poor wrote this what a mistake to make ... uhm.. can I flush this thread pls
I can relate to what this woman says. Why do people think so many poor smoke? Because they are just stupid? No, it's because when your life sucks that bad, your constantly exhausted, hungry, a cigarette helps quite a bit. Dollar for dollar, there is far more "not being hungry" in a pack of smokes than ANY food product out there. Five bucks is one healthy meal. Five bucks in cigs is countless meals skipped because you were able to go without due to the cigs. Poor people aren't stupid, they are smart for their situation, it's impossible to think long term when your immediate survival is at stake. And having such struggles wears on your mind as well, mental health is just as important as physical help, and the vices the poor have are able to give them some whiff of happiness, stability, pleasure, etc. A break from the day to day grind of failure, anger, sadness, pain, exhaustion, and endlessness.
Poor people aren't poor because of these things, they do these things BECAUSE they are poor. As the article mentions, what is the point of saving up money? To make a single large purchase? That doesn't benefit your life, that's just another gadget to have. Saving money only betters your life if you have enough to live properly in the first place, which poor people don't.edit on 23-11-2013 by James1982 because: (no reason given)
reply to post by 0bserver1
Killermartinis is this women's non-de-plume, the name of her blog. Considering some of the responses, it's probably wise not to use her real name.
I've been there. Right out of school got married, had a kid, rented a trailer and off to the working world. Most jobs are just enough to keep you from going under. Any big expense comes along and you find yourself selling off whatever you have just to pay the bills. I lost more guitars that way...books too.
Many jobs won't even give you meal breaks and smoking helps curb the hunger pangs enough to get you through the day. Employees basically have no rights at all, no mandatory breaks, no benefits for most jobs. I was delivering pizza as a second job only to find out our manager had been ripping off all the delivery drivers. We never got our money back he stole.
It took me learning a skill as an apprentice with no pay while I worked a paying job at night to move anywhere. After 20 years of busting my butt I finally had a decent clientele established only to become disabled. Social security turned down my first application (as usual) so lawyers end up getting a third of the money they owed you - that you paid in to the system while working.
It's a racket out there and very, very hard for anyone born in poverty to move up.
I worked for over 20 years before I had 1 week's real vacation where I could afford to travel and do things. Every time I had vacation was an excuse to find some side work for extra money. WooHoo. I can understand her apathy, it nearly gets everyone whose broke.
Excellent writing I agree.
reply to post by OneManArmy
I sometimes thin of what will my financial future hold just like you, OneManArmy.
I am wheelchair disabled since 2010, and living with my parents. I was going to school, but hurricane sandy put an end to that, and i am stuck up 9 steps in the first floor of my parents house. Can't even leave the house unless i call an ambulate service that takes me to a medical only appointment.
Due to boredom, i have taken up weed again. Several times i have put stopped it, first to concentrate better for school, then for God. I failed at that then i put it down again, trying to commit myself.
It's funny, you know this vice costs you money much needed money, but in order to destress and get away from daily life, you are willing to forego many things in order to continue this vice.
I am nowhere near your level of hardship, but i feel you.
Trust in God, and i hope things pick up in your life man.