Poverty Is For “Other” People

Why don’t they get a job? You would never be caught dead begging for money or digging in someone else’s garbage. Don’t they have any pride?

That’s what most people are thinking even if they don’t say it out loud; and some do. Every where you look there are pan-handlers jockeying for position at the most lucrative intersection or the prime location; outside the liquor store. You can’t drive down a back alley without seeing someone climbing into a dumpster or someone pushing a shopping cart full of their possessions. It has become so common place you hardly take notice any more.

Why don’t they get a job?

They must be drug addicts or alcoholics, or maybe they have a mental problem; certainly they don’t have an education, children, or job skills.

These people couldn’t have been YOUR neighbor a few years ago, their kids couldn’t have been over at your house playing not that long ago. You don’t know anyone who would be reduced to begging for money, do you? Well, IF you did know someone in that position they got there by their own doing, they must have made poor choices; you know YOU would never be that desperate. It could never happen to you, could it?

What ever did happen to that nice young couple that lived next door? Such a shame their house got foreclosed on and they moved away; they were good neighbors, hard working, always friendly, they’d watch the house when you went away and such cute little ones; remember when the first one was born, all the neighbors got together and had a baby shower? Nice little family………wonder what ever happened to them. Well, you know how it is` every one is so busy these days; you promised to keep in touch, take the kids once in a while but just never got around to it. I’m sure they’re doing fine, they were young, they’ll recoup¤

Or when the company you work for was down sizing, what a shame “Stan” was laid off only 10 years from retirement, just when the kids were finished school and oh yeah, their daughter was getting married, that’s right and then they were going to concentrate on saving for retirement. Stan had 10 years to really sock it away, too bad……wonder what ever happened to good old Stan….he must have gotten a job somewhere by now.

What about the woman you always talked to when you both went to pick up your kids from school, she showed up looking like she’d been really crying a few times and kept to herself mostly but you and her had a few good chats, she was really nice and had a pretty smile. Then one day she wasn’t there any more, her kids had switched schools, then they came back but you never saw her again. You asked about her and heard she was in an abusive relationship and she finally left the asshole, good for her! She must be doing so much better without him, she must be happy now, just her and the kids without him beating her down emotionally and physically. Good for her she finally left.

That nice young couple? After they lost their house and moved into a rental, he was laid off from the job he’d had for 6 years at the mill and has been getting work off and on ever since, she is working two part time jobs, one at a big box store and the other one at a bank, she gets 20 hours a week from each place which means she doesn’t get benefits or her stat holidays paid and sometimes works 16 hours in a day because she gets scheduled at both places on the same day. They try to schedule their shifts so one of them is home for the kids because day care is so expensive and it’s hard to find a day care that will take kids for a few hours, they want full time children because they are only allowed so many children at one time and can’t keep a slot open for a few hours.

After the stores close he goes out dumpster diving, often times he finds things he can repair and resell at the flea market, sometimes he finds toys for the kids, or even food, he doesn’t make a whole lot of money but it is what keeps their heads barely above water and food on the table. They fight a lot these days, the stress is getting to them; the kids have started to have behaviour problems and the oldest one started school but hates it because some of the other kids saw their dad dumpster diving and now tease them at school.

Times are tough for everyone, I’m sure they’ll get back on their feet if they just work hard. Right?

Good ol’ Stan, didn’t you know?
He’s a greeter at WalMart, you know the guy who gets you a shopping cart, smiles and says “Hi” when you walk in.

He got unemployment benefits for a year and then they had to start using the little bit of severance package he got because you can’t collect welfare if you have any money and they had to sell one of the cars because welfare won’t pay if you own two cars over a certain value. It was so degrading for Stan to go into welfare, paid into it his whole life, always worked, and he was treated like a second class citizen when he finally got up the courage to go in because they can’t afford to pay for his heart medication on the little bit they make. He was choking back tears when he left the office. He sure didn’t ever think he’d be asking for a hand out, he believed if a person worked hard they would be ok. Everything they had Stan had worked damn hard for but they remortgaged the house for their daughter’s wedding while Stan still had a job and now they were afraid they are going to lose the house. Forty years Stan worked, raised his family, was a good provider, his wife had worked once the kids got into school and she has gotten a part time job now at a grocery chain store and often works until midnight. It bothers Stan that this is the time of their life they should be enjoying each other, kids out of the house, they’ve done their time, they struggled and they did it side by side; always looking forward to this day. He’s been looking for a good paying job but now a days every one hires over the internet and Stan never even had a resume in his life, he walked into places, asked to speak to the manager and walked out with a handshake and “You start Monday.” Now you don’t even see a person plus they look at his resume and see that he is almost 60, the companies he has talked to say he is over qualified, he tells them he doesn’t mind starting at the bottom but they don’t call back, so here he is at WalMart, putting a smile on his face and handing you your shopping cart.

The woman who left the abusive relationship? Well she isn’t doing so well, her ex husband decided to make her life hell and went for custody of the kids and won, she didn’t have money for a lawyer and he lied about her and got people to back his lies. Losing the kids almost killed her, she could barely function for almost a year and it breaks her heart that she lives in a one bedroom apartment in a bad area and she can’t provide a nice place for the kids to come and visit. They say it is ok they love her but she knows at their dad’s they have everything all the other kids have and even if they don’t say it she feels they are ashamed of her. She was with her ex for 10 years, she had a job but he wanted her to quit when the kids were born. She didn’t mind being home raising them, her husband had a good paying job and even though she had to account for every penny he gave her and never had money of her own; he gave her enough to keep the house and the kids looking presentable. As the years went by though he got more and more abusive and controlling, it seemed he was never happy no matter what she did and she was always walking on egg shells. Sometimes she could feel the tension in him building and she knew she was going to get hit. She would try to not react when he pushed her buttons but eventually he would blow and she would get punched in the head and told he’d had enough and wanted her out.

He did it one too many times and one day while he was at work she packed up the kids and her clothes and left, with no money, nothing. He tried to get her to come back, put on the “I’m so sorry, it will never happen again” routine she’d heard so many times in the past, but she was strong this time, she was determined.

He got reinvolved almost immediately and told every one that she was crazy and he’d suffered through years of hell with her and now he’d found a woman that understood him and appreciated him. He moved the woman into their house, just slid the new woman right into her role as his wife and the woman is so cocky and rude to her; she must believe his lies too. Sure someday after a lengthy court battle she should get ½ of the house but she can’t afford a lawyer and he’s got the best; besides she doesn’t think she has the strength to keep fighting him.

Maybe he was right; maybe she is nothing without him.

She is getting welfare, which barely covers her rent and food from the food bank but having the kids come and stay always put her behind financially and the hydro is going to be cut off today; so she puts on her coat and heads out in the rain to ask for spare change at the liquor store.

Hopefully she’ll make enough to keep hydro off her back for another week. It’s getting harder and harder to believe she is better off, maybe getting hit once in a while wasn’t so bad after all.

You don’t know anyone who begs for money or digs in other people’s garbage, it’s not your problem. Whose problem is it?

Posted by Carrie the Lady Witha Truck

28 thoughts on “Poverty Is For “Other” People

  1. Androgoth

    This is a thought provoking posting Carrie
    and homelessness can happen to anyone,
    one should think about that…

    Have a great evening Carrie 🙂

    Androgoth XXx

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    1. ladywithatruck Post author

      Androgoth, thank you for coming by for a read and your comment.I know a little about homelessness first hand so I can speak with some authority on the subject. Believe me, once I was a home owner, had retirement funds, and credit I didn’t think it could happen to me. Never say never!I’m glad you thought it was thought provoking; that was my intent.I hope you had a spectacular evening and thank you for the invite to your corner of blogville i will be popping by for a visit soon.Good night my friend Carrie:)Sent from Samsung Mobile

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  2. lexiconlover

    I am college educated, thought I made all the “right” decisions et cetera but homelessness and poverty happened to me as well. Damn right it can happen to anyone. Damn right never say never. Reserve judgment of others….lest it may happen to you one day….

    Great post Carrie 🙂

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    1. ladywithatruck Post author

      Lexi, thank you! When I got to be 40, with over 60% equity in my home, a rental property, $25,000 in retirement funds invested “safely”, my vehicle paid for, my kid only a couple years from graduating, a blemish free credit rating, education, I took a sigh of relief; I thought ever bring homeless wasn’t even a remote possibility.

      There is going to be more and more of it too because it is still a misunderstood problem and in Canada anyway if you are a drug addict you are excused from looking for work and get way more money on welfare and its easier to get subsidized housing. Also they don’t help people until they have lost everything. It would be way cheaper for the government to be proactive and help people stay in their home.

      I can really get on my soap box with this topic!! Lol
      Thanks so much for commenting, nice to have you back. I missed you.
      Hugs
      Carrie

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  3. WordsFallFromMyEyes

    This is an excellent write, Carrie. I particularly liked the opening, the blunt opening. I indeed have seen people in the city on the streets – there was one girl (about 19) just sitting on the cold concrete outside a store, a cup on the ground before her, her head on her knees, and her hair dangled down so you couldn’t even see her face. Only the cup asked, and said it all. And I wondered, as I passed on my way back to the office after my lunch break, why couldn’t she get a job – what is her story – who could give her that hand which guides her to change, for she’s young enough to redirect – and where are her mother & father/do they know/do they allow this to be the “end” result of the daughter they… well, did they raise her, or damage her?…

    Really got me thinking, Carrie. hope you are well today 🙂 N.

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  4. Denise

    Wow. Am just reading your post about poverty. Living where I do I see this kind of stuff everyday and lately I’ve been filled with an overwhelming sense of sadness. Not just for the people who endure but for the way the rest of society, you know, “the better thans” veiw them. I just had an experience directly related to this earlier today on the bus. It made me cry. It also made me thank God, literally, for what I have. After all, but for the grace of God who knows where I or anyone would be right now. God bless and thank you for being brave enough to write things others may not want to hear.

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    1. ladywithatruck Post author

      Denise! Thank you do much! I have talked via text message since you posted this but wanted to introduce you to everyone ! This is my good friend Denise, JC’s sister, who helped me so much during the last few months with JC, stayed with me when I was a basket case , basically was my rock during the worst time of my life.

      Thanks Denise 🙂

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  5. ladywithatruck Post author

    Noeleen, thank you so much!! Any compliment from you means alot because you are so talented!

    Re that young girl; who knows why she is in that position but once a person is there it is so hard to get up out of it. It is not so easy to get a job when every day your only focus is survival. Where will you wash up what public bathroom will be the least conspicuous, (that can take a couple of hours) where and what will you eat, where will you be safe to sleep far enough away.from the public that the police won’t wake you up and tell you to move along yet not so remote that a young girl would be in danger and raped or/and killed or some nut job decides to beat a sleeping homeless person to death for the fun of it. once you are homeless, more than likely you don’t have to”interview” clothes and even if you got a job how would you ever keep it when you don’t have a place to sleep?
    And even IF the person managed to work two weeks and get a cheque, that still wouldn’t get them into an apartment and even if by chance they managed to work long enough to get an apartment, they have absolutely nothing to put in it. It is simply too overwhelming for alot of people. Plus the hit your self esteem takes when you are homeless. The way you described her she obviously wasn’t feeling too good about herself.

    Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs says that a person has basic needs and they go up in levels. A person must have the basics in life before they move to the next level. I will have to do a post on it. I am not explaining it right. But in essence if a person is struggling just to survive that is all they focus on.

    The answer is prevention and if that isn’t possible then get the people off the street and deal with any other issues later. For a person to successfully get off drugs or whatever they need the security of a safe place to call home.

    I heard of a really good story from a woman who was homeless. I ran into her about a year ago and stopped to give her $10. She looked close to my age and you could tell she had tried to look nice. I asked her if she’d mind telling me why she was in the position of having to beg for money. I told her I had been homeless myself and things were much better for me now. She said she left an abusive relationship and just couldn’t afford to pay for an apartment. I wished her well, asked if I could give her a hug and left. I saw her several times after that and always gave her a few bucks. She was always wearing black slacks and a nice jacket and always had a sign that said she was willing to work. Anyway I didn’t see her for months and then she was back in her usual spot. I asked how she’d been and she beamed at me.
    She told me she’d been in her usual spot outside the grocery store when a man about 30 stopped and talked to her, asked her story. When he came back out of the store he handed her $100 cash and $100 gift certificate for groceries and then offered her a job.

    She had been working on his farm doing whatever he needed done, they had ripped out fences, trees, put in gardens, painted and cleaNed inside. He had run out of work and wouldn’t have anything more for a few morsel days and she was broke. He had asked her if she was ok for money and she couldn’t bring herself to say she wasn’t so she came down to make a few bucks until she could work again. She had a place to live and you could tell she was feeling empowered.

    It warmed my heart to hear someone reached out to her like that.

    Not everyone feels comfortable approaching a strange on the street and asking them their story; I certainly would not have done it a couple of years ago but with what I have been through I have a good opening line and I always say, “I hope you don’t mind”, or “if you don’t want to tell me that’s ok”. But most people want to share their story, they want someone to listen to them, ask their name, care, recognize that they are a person and not just a homeless person with their hand out.

    That got really lengthy!!! I do get on my soapbox about it. 🙂

    Thanks for your comment and questions Noeleen, I wish more people wondered, “what’s her story” instead of just looking the other way.

    Have a glorious day!
    Carrie

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  6. countingducks

    This is a painful and powerful read. I know someone on Canadian welfare payments, and it seems a harsh and judging system. People disadvantaged and judged in this way say so much about the heart of the society we live in. I’ve only just found your Blog but I am saddened and moved by this post, because it rings so true to me

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    1. ladywithatruck Post author

      Countingducks, thankyou so much, powerful read; wow that’s the kind of reaction I love. I hope it gives people cause to stop and think. It can happen to anyone with the economy as unstable as it is. At 40 I never would have imagined I would end up in an abusive relationship and then subsequently homeless and struggling to get back on my feet with nothing. Its has been phenominally hard and I think I am a strong person with job skills abduction an education. I sure am glad words don’t have calories because I’d be obese from all the words i’ve had to eat the past 10 years.

      Thank you so much for taking the time to comment.
      Carrie

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