I've seen several people link to this post, but I had to as well. It's really moving -- not only the post itself but the comments.
As a summary, the post is about what it means to be poor. The ones that stand out to me are the ones impacting children. A few of them are:
- 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 a box of crayons and a $1 coloring book from a community center Santa.
- Being poor is your kids getting excited on Dumpster-hunt day, because that's the only time they get to eat "real food" like cookies, fresh fruit and desserts.
- Being poor is staying with a man who beats your kids because you can't afford to keep them out of foster care without his salary.
- Being poor is scrambling under the car seats to make up enough change to get two happy meals to split between a family of 4 - and everyone is ecstatic when you do so.
- Being poor is finally realizing that when your Mom says you can be anything you want, she doesn't really believe it, but feels she has to keep saying it anyway to keep the whole family from falling into despair-based lifestyles.
- Being poor is discovering that that letter from Duke University, naming you as one of three advanced students in your class invited to test out of HS early into their scholarship program, is just so much firestarter because the $300 it costs to take the test may as well be $3 million.
- Despair is finally realizing, at nearly 36 and with a barely-afforded AA in English from a community college, just where you could have been by now had you had $300, and what that missed opportunity has truly cost you.
I'm pretty much a "pull yourself up by the bootstraps" kind of guy, but this post even got to me.
I can remember living alone with my mom and her working at a minimum wage just to keep us going. We lived in unsafe places, got free lunches at school with a "special" card, made a $0.19 packet of Kool-Aid last two days, and put gas in our car in increments of $1 or $2 at a time (this is when $2 actually bought more than 2/3 of a gallon). But I never really felt poor. We had each other and as long as we were together, things were fine. Plus, I just knew that this was only temporary for us. That we were both destined to be in a better spot financially. Several decades and lots of hard work later, we are in better places financially.
Can all poor people aspire to this or were we just "lucky"? After reading this post, I'm not sure.