With wealth distribution so completely out of whack, an instruction manual seems in order for the 90% of us dwelling at the low end of the scale.
For starters, poverty is nothing to be afraid of. Like most worries, the perception is worse than the reality. How do I know? I’m poor. I wasn’t always, but I am now and have been for some time. You see, I lost everything. Twice. Every book, every heirloom, every sock, photograph, every stick of furniture.
How? Why? How!?!
Well, I’m a difficult woman. Although, on reflection, being ‘difficult’ was somewhat less of a problem than being a ‘woman.’ Difficult men occupy corner offices; difficult women are in unemployment lines. On the other hand, being underpaid and patronized is pure psychic income and more motivating than wealth or fame. Plus, it’s tax-free. Indignation can be jet fuel. In fact, it turned me into a pretty decent copywriter — and an unmanageable smartass.
If I didn’t get fired, I’d quit in a huff, so the specter of poorness was ever-present — either as a grim reality or a looming threat. I learned a few things, yes, but not how to knuckle under.
My advice, should you find yourself in lean times, is don’t complain. Especially about high prices, hardships, bills, deprivations, anything having to do with money. The financially stable interpret complaints as thinly-veiled panhandling and will distance themselves PDQ. Expect to be ghosted.
Also, if it gets to the point where you have to choose between your car payment and rent, make the car payment. You can live in your car, but you can’t drive your apartment. I heard that somewhere and it’s true. However, living in your car is like living in the space shuttle. The center console is no one’s friend. The back seat is the better option.
Hang on to what happifies your life or brings comfort, let go of the rest. For me that was a few books and my willful, but beloved, dog. He was an impractical luxury I couldn’t live without. On the practical side, I packed clothes, my laptop, portfolio, a stack of résumés, my cellphone, and decamped to the car. I rented a post office box, too, for the normalcy of an address.
Lots of places are open 24/7 and have bathrooms. Some parks have facilities, too, as do fast food places, book stores, gas stations. Malls and libraries have a more limited schedule. To maintain appearances, join a cheap gym or fitness place where you can shower and keep up with basic hygiene. You will survive. It’s not forever. You’re a decent, upstanding citizen no matter what.
What gets drowned out by loud, intolerant voices is one simple fact: being poor is no more of a sin than being rich is a virtue. It’s a circumstance, not a short-coming. Don’t apologize. Stand up straight, instead, hold your head up, look everyone in the eye, and carry on. Everything will be okay, just you wait and see.
copyright © 2023 the whirly girl
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