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. Michelle

    Wow! You write so well. Thank you. People need those of us who have been there and done that to speak up, I think. Maybe I will start writing more about my experiences too as you are most inspiring. Very informative and moving post!


    1. ladywithatruck Post author

      Michelle, thank you so much! You should start writing about your experiences, nothing will change if people aren’t made aware and I know you have had more than your share of struggles and you are an excellent writer.
      Thank you for stopping by and the positive feed back.


  2. Noel

    I manage a social service program in the US that helps people in poverty to become self-sufficient. The program is free to anyone with dependent children who are on public assistance (Welfare). What I notice the most is what amazing parents our clients are and how they want a better life for their children. However, the stereotypes persist here as well and I often find myself angered by the words of people who can’t possibly understand how my clients feel or the challenges they face. You might want to check out “Bridges Out of Poverty” by Ruby Payne and Phil DeVol. They have done extensive research into the culture of poverty and the reasons it persists.

    On a very personal note, I stumbled upon your blog this morning while I was looking for information on survivors of emotional abuse and dealing with my narcissitic ex. Happy to say I am almost a year out of the house and into my recovery. It helps me immensely to read how others have survived, so thank you for your brevity and willingness to share your experiences!!


    1. ladywithatruck Post author

      Noel, thank you for stopping by and taking the time to comment. I will definitely check out Bridges Out of Poverty. I am trying to start a company with govt assistance designed to help women get back on their feet after an abusive relationship. It is difficult when you are living in poverty yourself to help others, it takes so much longer to get where you have to be. But I have time if not money. 🙂 I think that is wonderful you work to help people get to a better life; a hand up not a hand out. In Canada it seems our programs designed to help people better themselves fall short of the mark, they go only so far and then the person is left no better off than they were, instead of spending the little extra to get the person to the point of total self sufficiency which in the long run would save the govt so much money. They don’t seem to think in the long term, how a little extra now could have such a positive effect generations from now. I don’t think the people who work in the positions of case workers are trained well enough in Canada either, they are there because the job pays well not because they have a desire to help others. It is always a pleasure to meet someone who does the job because they believe in what they do. I am sure your clients appreciate your attitude, a positive attitude from you would be a great motivator for them; someone who believes in them and is cheering for them. You must get a lot of fulfillment from your job even though it must be heart wrenching sometimes.

      Its so good to hear of a person who is moving on and survived a relationship with an N. They cause such devastation the victim feels they will never be whole again. It does help to hear other’s stories, to know you are not alone and to hear of people who do go on to live happy healthy lives.

      Mostly I talk in terms of the narcissist as a male because that is my frame of reference but I know that female narcissists are just as evil and cause just as much damage as the males do. I have often thought that it must be even harder on the men because society tends to think the man should be immune to emotional abuse and if the woman gets violent and then turns it around the police are more apt to believe the woman; mind you my ex used to be able to sway them to believe him. Either way they are toxic people and any one who gets away from one is better off in the long run.

      All the best to you with your work and your N free life.


  3. countingducks

    I have added you to my Blogroll, by the way, because your words need to be read by a wider audience in my opinion. Having said that, I ‘m not sure that my Blogroll is a source of many new readers, but its the thought which counts.


  4. Yikes

    Carrie this was such a nice post and something I have thought about more than once.

    Growing up I wasn’t rich, but our home was paid for, I went shopping every weekend, we were always at theme parks and going to the movies.

    My grandparents paid for my car and apartment and most of my expenses.

    But as the recession in America dragged on & family members retired, money became tight. I actually had to move back in with my family and sell my car to make ends meet. I never thought that things would get so bad (and it was a huge blow to my self-esteem).

    As far as narcissistic people, I’ve realized they just cannot relate to “poor” people, even if they aren’t wealthy themselves!

    My ex N (still trying to figure out if he is, despite the fact that others have assured me he is) assumed that all Democrats were on welfare and looking for hand-outs. He didn’t even try to understand that people may not be able to find work, or that the jobs that were available weren’t even worth the drive (not that I am looking down on any jobs, but a family of four cannot survive on a McDonald’s paycheck) or they were so frustrated that they just gave up.

    To him it was just about laziness and selfishness. His cold demeanor was a complete turn-off. His need to sneer at Democrats and Obama supporters was troubling. I used to love politics until this election year (particularly the last three months of it). It was so nasty and Republicans became unrealistic snobs in my eyes, so yes, I distanced myself.

    The ex N noticed and shunned and mocked me for it.

    He refused to see both sides.

    I am still trying to make it day to day. Finances have gotten a little better, but it is still a day to day process. My heart goes out to people who had to refinance or foreclose on their homes, turn in cars that couldn’t be paid for, tell their children that Christmas will have to come after the sales or will be cut significantly, or who are facing eviction or living on the streets.

    As for those people like my ex who believe that if you “just work and work and work, you won’t ever need the government”: Like my mother always says, “Just keep living.” It can happen to anyone. Just keep living. Life has an interesting way of putting you in your place.


    1. ladywithatruck Post author

      Yikes, I always thought if you worked hard you would never be homeless or worry about going hungry. By the time I was 40 I thought I was in the clear financially but boy was I ever wrong! Between the economy tanking and JC staying up all night sabotaging my truck and I found out that isn’t true.

      I have had to eat a lot of words the past few years. I was always charitable but I didn’t understand what living in poverty was like and the thing is; with the world economy the way it no one is immune.

      JC never seemed to notice that we lived in hell holes. Every time we broke up I would get a decent place to live and he’d weasel his way in and piss off my landlord or something. Then when we were together we always ended up living in some hell hole and I would hate it and he’d seem perfectly fine with any dive he could find. But then I over heard him talking to his family on the phone and describing where we were living. I thought, “does he live in the same place as me? Because that sure the hell isn’t where I’m living”. He just made up stuff, its all about appearances and bull shit. if you can lie about it and make people believe you then that’s as good as if it were the truth. Warped way of thinking, ut then they are known for that; being warped.

      Thanks for commenting and thank you for the kind words of praise!



      1. Yikes

        My ex is probably still on Twitter and FB (I wouldn’t know because I finally blocked him. Yea!) screaming about liberals, Obama, moving to Texas, welfare Democrats, blahblahblah. Shut up already!



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