It’s blog action day so let me tell you a story.
A long time ago, before I so gloriously stumbled into the internet, and all things tech related, I was on my own in a big city in the Northeast. I had lost my job and was fresh out of college, and relied on public transit to get around town. Since I was fresh out of school, I did not have a lot experience, and so it was tough getting a “real job”. Money dried up quick, so did credit and anything I had saved. One thing lead to another and very quickly, I found myself having a hard time surviving. I had a landlord who understood and thus let me go rent and utilities free, during this time. What made this time even more worse than it already was if that’s possible, was that it was in the middle of the winter. It was indeed, one of the darkest of times for me. I was young, healthy, poor and I was more than anything, hungry. Me. Poor and hungry. Wow.
I did have a roof over my head but that was it. I had no way to get around because I didn’t have a car, and I had no money for bus fare. So anywhere I had to go, required me to get a good hour to 2 hour jump. Finding any work close by was impossible. There was none. Every day was spent looking for a job, any job.
Things were coming to a head. One night, after spending the whole day in the city, I walked into a convenience store. I had not eaten in over 2 days. I had to eat and I made a decision. I stole food. I didn’t steal the food for fun, I stole but for the simple fact that I HAD to. I stole an apple and some cheese, maybe some other things, I can’t remember.
I went back to that store a few more times after that, and repeated it. Same drill every time. Oh and there was also a manager at Burger King, where all the homeless people hung out, who would give out burgers and fries some time and she always made sure I got some. I was this far removed from being homeless and hungry. I don’t think you realize what’s that like! I didn’t have a mental illness, I just had too many factors at the time working against me and it kept me down.
How do you think others might feel right now who are stuggling with poverty?
It was about survival for me. I hated myself for doing it and I had zero self esteem and felt totally defeated from doing it. Down, out, humiliated but resolute to not let this go on, were my initial thoughts. My other thoughts were, If this is how I am, then what can it be like for others who have families, no shelter, no job and no options?
For me hunger was a motivating factor to make an effort every day to get A job. Even if I had to walk 2 hours in each direction to get there. At that point, one cannot be too choosey about work of any kind, and I was finally able to get a job where they actually fronted me some money so that I could get back and forth from work.
From that subsequent job, I was able to slowly pull out of the funk, the despair, the hunger, and the realization that I was not that far removed from others, who I might have, at one time in my life, stupidly questioned, “why they couldn’t get their shit together”. Pure ignorance on my part.
It’s a humble thing to know that you can’t afford to eat and I’m also sure that a lot of people just need a break just like I got. But then again, maybe what people might need, or want, is simply a warm meal. Have you ever taken then time to think about that?
Times might suck right now, but you can make a difference Today.
Thank you. It must have been so difficult to write this. I can’t imagine being in those shoes of yours. I am participating in BAD as well and just wanted to get out and read some other people’s blogs.
I have been there a couple times myself. One time I had a job, but I lost my apartment and I started sleeping behind the store where I worked. One of the guys I worked with came by one day and found me and he offered me the spare room at his place until I got back on my feet. The ironic thing about this is that the guy who rescued me was the one everyone made fun of and always picked on, but after that day whenever anyone said anything in front of me I replied, “You know, all of you guys knew I was living out behind the store, but he was the only one who came and offered me a place to say.”
“One medical emergency, one car accident, one missed paycheck, or one lay-off notice and a middle class family can descend into poverty.” -Voices for Action, Poverty in Michigan
And that is the truth.
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