January 17, 2012

The Poor Are People, Too (January 17, 2012)

Yeah, I've been known to buy potato chips, jujubes, and the occasional 6-pack or bottle of cheap wine.  So what? Want to make something of it?!?  Huh . . . DO YA!?!

I'm sorry if I'm being a little bit defensive.  The fact is that I have had some remorse in using my precious dollars to buy these things, and so I'm sensitive to being questioned about them.  That said, buying these things served an important purpose for me.  So, despite some second thoughts, I will likely do it again.  Here's the thing . . . brace yourself as it may come as a shock . . . I'm human.  There, I've said it . . . the truth is out.

Okay, I jest.  But, seriously, I believe a double standard is applied to those living in poverty compared to others.  I've touched on this before (. . . Double Standards? . . . Not All Bad Is NOT All Good . . .) but now I want to dive into the emotion behind these actions that give rise to the double standard situations. 

Recently I was having an extremely challenging day.  I hadn't slept well.  I was feeling a little down.  I was worried about a few things (okay . . . everything).  It was really freaking cold weather and I couldn't even go for a decent walk.  And, alas, I began feeling a little sorry for myself.  In that state of mind, I yearned for some comfort . . . a break from the drudgery of the day.  I decided that I was going to treat myself to some wine, some chips, and the makings for some onion dip.  Sitting on my shoulder, my conscience whispered in my ear, "That's not the best use of your money."  So I finger flicked the little fella from his perch, grabbed my keys and cash, and went to the store.  I didn't care if it was smart or not, I needed it.

It's entirely possible that somebody at the store recognized me as That Poverty Guy and made a disparaging judgement about me.  Perhaps something like, "Yeah, right.  He sure has it tough. Not!"  On several occasions people have reminded me of the people in "poverty" they have seen buying fancy food with food stamps, or collecting social services while wearing a fur coat, or living high on the hog while panhandling all day.   They share these stories with me as evidence of why poverty is not so bad or how the poor abuse the system.  Without a doubt, some people will abuse the system but the truth is most do not.  More importantly, we have no idea what is going on for another person.  We can't judge them.  We can't think that we would act any differently unless we have experienced what they have.

Sure, I could beat myself up for indulging myself in a moment of weakness just like the guy standing in line behind might have.  However, we all fall subject to temptation.  We all make an impulse purchase, or speak without thinking, or get ourselves in over our heads in some manner from time to time.   Does that mean we should all be judged by others?  I don't think so.

The poor are people, too.  Those in poverty will try to indulge themselves just like anyone else.  Those in poverty will have tough days (perhaps more than most people) and yearn for some comfort.  Those in poverty will make some bad choices based upon emotions just like we all do.  Yet it doesn't mean that they don't need a helping hand to get on their feet again and protection for their basic human rights.  Unless we cut others some slack, we cannot expect others to cut us some slack.  It's only fair.

Phase II - Struggles of the Working Poor Daily Report
Day 76 - 78 (January 15th – January 17th)

Weight at Beginning of Project:  233 lbs
Weight at End of Phase One:  216 lbs
Weight at Start of Phase Two: 221 lbs
Weight at Start of Today:  217 lbs
Available Funds:   $10.20 (leftover) + $7.50 (Jan 15) + $8.00 (Jan 16) + $7.50 (Jan 17) = $33.20
Funds Spent Today:  $32.09 (Purchases)
Remaining Funds:   $1.11

New Loan:  $0.00
Loan Payment Due Today: $0.00
Loan Payment:   $25.00
Outstanding Loan: $25.65 as at Jan 14th (originally $50.00 Loan on Jan 3) @ 3% per month = $25.73 Owing as at Jan 17th . . . full re-payment due January 31st (or earlier)

Items Purchased:   $3 Gas, 2 Hot Ciders, Ranch Dressing, Bag of Potato Chips, Half Dozen Eggs, 6 Bananas, 3 Small Tomatoes, 6 Apples, Bottle of Cheap Red Wine
Free Stuff:   Nil

Gas Purchased* & Remaining:  $3.00 (i.e. 2.71 litres @ $1.109 per litre . . . 27.1 km @ 10 km/litre) + 3.14 litres (gas remaining) = 5.85 litres (58.5 km)
Driving Today:  22.3 km (i.e. 2.23 litres)
Gas Remaining:  3.62 litres (i.e. 36.2 km)
*Will not include any fuel or driving related to work that is paid for by work.

Hey!!  I'm That Poverty Guy . . . let's make a world of difference together.

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  1. Thank you Sean! This is such an important point! It's is one's place to judge themselves, and nobody else!

    1. Oh yes, I have judged; you are sooo right.

    2. We all have . . . and we have to vigilant to not do so. To judge another when it is not our place to do so is poison to them and poison to ourselves. And who wants poison?

  2. how do we know the reasons for what we see? it could be for ur child...a thank u for a support worker....we dont know..we simply cannot judge!
    But i hate to hear u feel guilty....don't......
    everything in moderation....and u r telling us..so thx for your honesty...and i say
    "enjoy every last jujube!!!!!"

    1. You're right on all account! And, yes, I enjoyed the jujubes!!