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This is one of the best descriptions of a poor American woman's life I've ever read.
I related to this on so many levels, it scared me. I seldom considered myself poor, even though my monthly income of 1000.00 is proof, I always had most of the stuff every other American household had- refrigerator, tv, computer......

This Is Why Poor People's Bad Decisions Make Perfect Sense
It made Perfect Sense to me, especially when I was a single mom decades ago, but It makes me sad that not much has gotten better for the single moms these days.

Convenience food is just that. And we are not allowed many conveniences. Especially since the Patriot Act passed, it's hard to get a bank account. But without one, you spend a lot of time figuring out where to cash a check and get money orders to pay bills. Most motels now have a no-credit-card-no-room policy. I wandered around SF for five hours in the rain once with nearly a thousand dollars on me and could not rent a room even if I gave them a $500 cash deposit and surrendered my cell phone to the desk to hold as surety.

Nobody gives enough thought to depression. You have to understand that we know that we will never not feel tired. We will never feel hopeful. We will never get a vacation. Ever. We know that the very act of being poor guarantees that we will never not be poor. It doesn't give us much reason to improve ourselves. We don't apply for jobs because we know we can't afford to look nice enough to hold them. I would make a super legal secretary, but I've been turned down more than once because I "don't fit the image of the firm," which is a nice way of saying "gtfo, pov." I am good enough to cook the food, hidden away in the kitchen, but my boss won't make me a server because I don't "fit the corporate image." I am not beautiful. I have missing teeth and skin that looks like it will when you live on b12 and coffee and nicotine and no sleep. Beauty is a thing you get when you can afford it, and that's how you get the job that you need in order to be beautiful. There isn't much point trying.

Cooking attracts roaches.

---

And this 'bad habit' is always thrown in our poor face.

I smoke. It's expensive. It's also the best option. You see, I am always, always exhausted. It's a stimulant. When I am too tired to walk one more step, I can smoke and go for another hour. When I am enraged and beaten down and incapable of accomplishing one more thing, I can smoke and I feel a little better, just for a minute. It is the only relaxation I am allowed. It is not a good decision, but it is the only one that I have access to. It is the only thing I have found that keeps me from collapsing or exploding.
My conclusion after 61 years, it gets easier to be poor when alone. When young, single and poor with a baby or two to feed, working 2 or 3 jobs to pay the bills, never getting a break no matter how much ambition, education, love one may have and mostly just a worn down ill body at the finish line and some 'phews' I made it, my kid made it (meaning still alive) just not a whole lot of 'stuff' to prove one's success, somehow it does feel okay. Cause there are always, unfortunately, more people worse off. That's the true Sad part in my opinion. How bad does it have to really get?

As they say- It is what it is.

Originally posted to roseeriter on Sat Nov 23, 2013 at 01:25 AM PST.

Also republished by Invisible People and In Support of Labor and Unions.

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