Tuesday, April 21, 2009

What Does It Mean To Be Poor

Being poor is hoping the toothache goes away. Being intentionally poor is telling others where to get their tooth fixed for free.

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 living next to the freeway in the most toxic part of the city. Being intentionally poor is doing so on purpose so you can live with your poor neighbors.

Being poor is wondering if your well-off family member is lying when he says he doesn’t mind when you ask for help.

Being poor is getting toys for your kids for free, from out of a dumpster or from the dollar store. Being intentionally poor is doing so with joy.

Being poor is a heater in only one room of the house. Being intentionally poor is welcoming that one room to the homeless outside your door.

Being poor is hoping your kids don’t have a growth spurt.

Being poor is not enough space for everyone who lives with you. Being intentionally poor is when you do get a place, it fills up right away.

Being poor is relying on people who don’t give a damn about you.

Being poor is stopping the car to take a lamp from a stranger’s trash. Being intentionally poor is regularly going through dumpsters in order to find good food for all those you know in need.

Being poor is people angry at you just for walking around in the mall.

Being poor is the police busting into the apartment right next to yours. And secretly being glad about it.

Being poor is hoping you’ll be invited for dinner. Being intentionally poor is inviting others to diner to share the poor fare you have.

Being poor is your kid’s teacher assuming you don’t have any books in your home. Or enough money to buy your kids decent clothes.

Being poor is crying when you drop the mac and cheese on the floor.

Being poor is knowing you work as hard as anyone, anywhere. Being intentionally poor is knowing your work is doing some good.

Being poor is people surprised to discover you’re not actually stupid.

Being poor is people surprised to discover you’re not actually lazy.

Being poor is a six-hour wait in an emergency room with a sick child asleep on your lap. Being intentionally poor is that same wait with a mentally ill friend.

Being poor is picking the 10 cent ramen instead of the 12 cent ramen because that’s two extra packages for every dollar.

Being poor is needing to shop at Winco because it’s cheaper, but not being able to drive there because the gas or bus fare is too much.

Being poor is getting a fare hike on the bus to pay for a million dollar train to take the white collars to work.

Being poor is needing to buy a 800 dollar car with poor environmental quality and then being preached at because the car is “ruining the environment”. Being intentionally poor is having to make the decision between two sets of values.

Being poor is meeting everyone you know at the soup kitchen at second half of the month when you all run out of food stamps.

Being poor is getting tired of people wanting you to be grateful. Being intentionally poor is being grateful to God for what little you have.

Being poor is knowing which service worker is sincere, which is judging you and which hates her job.

Being poor is losing your job and getting an increase in your rent the same month, and so losing everything. Being intentionally poor is still having options when that happens.

Being poor is getting yelled at by the phone company because you can’t pay your bill and are calling to make arrangements.

Being poor is a cough that doesn’t go away. Being intentionally poor is giving your homeless friend a couch when the hospital tells him to leave the day after his surgery.

Being poor is working harder for less. Being intentionally poor is giving what little you have to those who have even less.

Being poor is a $200 paycheck advance from a company that takes $250 when the paycheck comes in.

Being poor is people who have never been poor wondering why you choose to be so. Being intentionally poor is actually choosing poverty and knowing why.

Being poor is seeing how few options you have. Being intentionally poor is choosing to live with fewer options so that those who have no options may have some.

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