Unless you’ve lived through it, you can’t understand poverty. Not really. Mentally put yourself in their shoes all you want, but it’s nearly impossible to imagine anything beyond the very surface point of “I don’t have any money — I sure wish I did.” But the problems that poor people face are so much deeper than that. Especially if you’re a adolescent who’s already trying to survive the five-year onslaught of demon juice that builds you question your own existence in the first place. Adding poverty to their already-towering piling of horseshit only builds it so much worse.
I have an immense amount of empathy and respect for those kids, because in most cases, they’re in a situation they can’t control. They only have to grit their teeth and ride it out until they’re old enough to take the reign themselves. In the meantime, they’ve learned a few things about poverty that the average American will never understand. For example …
# 5. That Stinky Kid At School Probably Can’t Help It
Remember that scene in Willy Wonka [ or Charlie ] And The Chocolate Factory in which Charlie observes some money on the street, and then spends it on candy because he’s a selfish little bastard? In an actual impoverished family, there would have been a whole lot less “You shouldn’t sell that ticket you observed, ” and a whole lot more “You fucking bought what ?! We’ve been out of milk for a week! We’ve been wiping our ass on old newspapers and selling blood to keep the lightings on! We’re out of sugar and butter and eggs and bread … “
The remaining hour or so of that movie would have just been that list, and nowhere in that exacerbated rant would you hear the word “deodorant.” Because when you’re hurting for the essentials, deodorant is a luxury. So is laundry soap. The average person doesn’t set much believed into which soap does what task — you only buy it because you know you need it. But when you’re poor, the whole soap industry is a cruel, ridiculous gag. There’s one various kinds of soap for your body. Another for your hair. A soap attained specifically for dishes. Another for laundry. In the eyes of a poor person, if you have hand soap on the bathroom sink, you might as well be Bill Gates.
Don’t patronize me, asshole .
So in a lot of poor households, there are two kinds of soap: a bar that you use for your ass and hair, and a big-ass receptacle of the cheapest dish soap you can find for dishes and laundry. Because 40 ounces of cheap laundry soap expenses about five times more than an equal sum of cheap dish soap. What you don’t realise until you’ve lived through ghetto laundry is that laundry soap is designed with a sort of perfume smell — or at least with chemicals that are made specifically to eliminate crotch funk. Dish soap isn’t. So using that builds even “clean” clothes still smell weird.
There’s also a pretty good chance that you don’t own a washer and dryer. When I was a kid, there would be A Gathering at the beginning of each month. An nearly supernatural migration of the poor, who had just cashed their welfare checks and now had between two weeks and a month’s worth of washing to catch up on at the laundromat. Laundromats are hygiene prostitution: expensive and eerily sticky, so you don’t go very often. Many times, you find yourself digging out the least dirty outfit from the hamper, because it’ll be another week before you can afford to go back and clean your clothes again.
“While I’m at it, I think there’s room for me to get a quick bath.”
So now you’ve done your laundry, but you’ve utilized all of your dish soap in the process. Your clothes still smell various kinds of weird, but it’s better than what it was. Now your dishes are piling up because you have no money to buy more soap until you get paid again. The longer they sit, the worse they smell. You haven’t changed the junk in got a couple of days because it’s not full yet, and when you’re poor, you learn to waste nothing — not even a simple garbage bag. The cat’s shit box requires changed, but litter is waaaay down on your list of budget priorities. There’s a pretty good chance that at least one member of your household smokes. And it doesn’t take long for all of that to work its way through the house and into your favorite Nickelback shirt. Which oddly builds the shirt way more Nickelback than it was when you first bought it.
The worst portion is this: You know how if you put on perfume or cologne, you stop reeking it after about 30 minutes? The same thing happens with funky stink odors. You going to see school, thinking you reek just fine, but your classmates start screaming from 50 feet away. Before you know it, you’re being relentlessly taunted, and you have no idea why.
“You don’t deserve to be in our hip graffiti room! ”
And the argument of “clean your house and take a shower” isn’t always the answer. Take all the rains you want — if you don’t have deodorant, you’re going to start reeking like sweat in a couple of hours. If you don’t have the chemicals to clean your home, then you’re only wiping stuff down with a wet cloth, which doesn’t do shit for the stink. And don’t even start with that “They’re only too lazy to clean” bullshit. I mentioned in this article that 91 percent of government benefits go to the incapacitated, elderly, and working households. Of those who have the ability to clean, many of them are running two part-time jobs a day, while their kids expend eight hours at school and the other 3 hour doing homework. Time is every bit as depleted as their income.
# 4. Your Seems Are Based On Your Parents’ Artistic Ability
Haircuts were the bane of my existence when I was a kid. Paying for one is out of the question, so you have to get them at home. Mommy could never get my hair even on both sides, so I looked like someone had stapled a wig to my scalp. Dad would do it when he was 30 beers deep, so I’d come out looking like Moe from The Three Stooges . If your mothers suck at cutting hair, then you set that shit off for as long as possible. Fuck fashion, that is why a lot of poor kids have long hair or buzz cuts. If you’ve ever seen a poor person come to school with a entirely bald head, it means that either his mommy fucked up the haircut so badly that it was less humbling to only shave it, or he got head lice and they couldn’t afford the shampoo to kill them, so they define his head on fire.
And you can’t only throw some mousse into a bad haircut and make it all spiky like you meant to go for the shaggy boulder superstar look. Recollect the deodorant thing I only fucking talked about ? Hair care products are even further down on the list of necessities. They might as well be sandwiched between “new Porsche” and “that awesome spinny blade thing from Krull . “
Your parents’ artistic ability also dictates how you seem from the neck down. Clothes are hand-me-downs, so you either have to be fine with wearing jeans that haven’t been in style since your mom’s hymen was intact, or you hope that she knows how to spruce them up with dye or scissors or some sort of artwork that builds you look like a grungy alternative rebel.
Or an insufferable hipster twat .
Sometimes, as was the case when I was in high school, the world determined to pull its unlubed fist out of your asshole only long enough to give you a breather. My breather came in the form of heavy metal and eventually the Grunge Era, and it felt magnificent. Holey, ripped-up jeans came into manner, and that meant that every single shitty pair of gasps I owned were finally not embarrassing to wear. Even the severely stained ones were awesome. In fact, the more stained and nasty they were, the very best they looked … and trust me, I was nuts-deep in nasty stained gasps. Good luck sleeping tonight with that image in your head.
Again, my mom’s artistic talents came into play, but this time it was a good thing. She knew how to attain ripped jeans fray correctly so that they didn’t look like I only stabbed them a bunch of times with a steak knife in a fit of fury … which I actually did. She also knew that if you added only the right amount of bleach to the wash, it would attain the jeans seem sort of stonewashed. Shut up, it was in style at the time.
Surprisingly, that artistic touch had a practical effect. When I entered high school, I grew really tall really fast, so most of my jeans were about three inches too short. But I found out that when you cut pits in them, the weight of the denim builds those rends open up, which builds the legs artificially longer. So after sprucing them up with a pair of scissors and fits of maniacal giggling, all of my old, tiny jeans were back on the market. And trust me, in the 1990 s, the dames loved humen in tiny ripped-up jeans.
Hey, come along, my eyes are up here .
Well , not when I wore them, but when other guys did.
But as happy as I was that the Grunge Era attained looks a lot like a strolling garage sale acceptable, it had some pretty heavy drawbacks. That’s because …
# 3. Fads Can Destroy Your Ability To Buy Clothes
Grunge was both a bles and a curse. The upside was that we already owned most of the stuff that was get popular. We were always stocked up on flannel shirts because the Dollar Store sold them for got a couple of bucks, so we’d get tons of those at Christmas. Old shoes, combat boot, army jackets … all of that stuff received from Goodwill, Salvation Army, and garage sales. And if all else failed, you could just put one across dad’s run clothes and you fit right in.
But once that fad kicked in, holy shit, our shopping was fucked virtually overnight. The price of flannels jumped to $40 a piece. Combat boots and thermal undershirts expense as much as that high-priced preppy, sporty shit that all the rich kids were wearing a few years earlier. And it wasn’t only a case of everything getting more expensive. There was something weirder at work.
DEVIL DOG !
See, we shopped at Goodwill and Wearable Toilet Paper because we had to. When shitty clothes came into style, everyone else started shopping there because they wanted to. Since middle-class and upper-class kids had the money to buy “new” clothes, they flooded those stores and bought all of the very best stuff. Which, back then, entailed the shittiest stuff? It’s still hard to get onto straight in my head, even after all these years. The point is that they bought out the clothes that were now in style.
Meanwhile, your family is still on the same clothes budget, which means that you still only go shopping once a year( when you get your tax return ). So by the time you have the ability to buy new stuff, it’s like proving up to a Thanksgiving dinner in January. All that’s left is bones, mold, and the corpses of those who only didn’t have what it takes to handle the feast.
Now you have to find new places to shop, because even my mothers, who couldn’t give less of a shit about how we dressed, were like, “No, we’re not buying this. You couldn’t even get away with wearing this shit ironically. Your classmates will beat you down out of sheer principle, and they would be justified.” Garage marketings excluded, the next-cheapest place for clothes shopping was Walmart. But even then, you’d be able to buy one pair of jeans for every five that you could have bought at Goodwill.
But wait, it gets worse. Because when you blend the three points I only talked about …
# 2. It’s Nearly Impossible To Induce Friends
Because of the shitty clothes and the bad odors and the horrible haircut, you’re ostracized in school. Not only from run-of-the-mill bullies, either. I don’t believe I’m astonishing anyone by saying that kids can be assholes, but it gets so much worse when they want to look funny and edgy in front of their friends, and then you walk by.
They can’t fathom the idea that you didn’t attain the choice to seem and reek like that. They see you as a lazy, stinky asshole who never rains and doesn’t give a shit how he looks. You can’t explain to them that it’s out of your hands, because 1) that would be humbling as fuck, and 2) they still wouldn’t understand it. They can’t. They’ve never lived through it. They will never understand what it’s like to opinion three dollars as a saving grace. To have to replace “shampoo” with “chicken” on your list of priorities. So they make fun of you, and that shit hurts like you wouldn’t believe. You walk away, wanting to die.
And for some reason, the theme to The Breakfast Club is playing .
But even if you’re luck enough to get hygiene products like that, you still have problems stimulating friends, because you can’t afford to go out with them. I can’t even begin to explain how embarrassing it is to have to turn down simple things like a journey to the bowling alley or a night at the movies because the only way you could go is if one of your friends paid for your shit. It gets so humbling that you eventually only start stimulating up excuses as to why you can’t go out, and eventually you just come off as an antisocial prick.
So you end up coagulating with other poor people, because they understand what it’s like to have to do poor people activities — cards, campfires, lying about cow-tipping. And don’t get me wrong here; I’m not saying that impoverished friends aren’t real friends. But they always came with an unfortunately common drawback.
In my experience, many of those households were stressed to the breaking point. So much so that it attained it almost impossible to visit for more than a few minutes at a time. Dad is coping with the stress by pounding brew. At least two people in the house are constantly arguing. Since you’re a guest, they feel like they have to feed you, but they don’t have the entails, so more stress and remorse heaps up. It doesn’t take long to feel like a burden, even if all you did was stop in to say hi. Eventually, you figure out that it’s only less of a headache to stay home.
Just you, your yard, and your stupid annoying elephant .
After a few years of that, you ultimately reach the end of this terrible, shitty time. Graduation is right around the corner, if you haven’t already dropped out. You’re ultimately able to start your own career of “something to do with being rich” and fix this shit, so your own kids will never have to go through it. And that’s when you find out the worst thing of all …
# 1. You’re Expected To Carry On The Family Tradition Of Staying Poor
One thing that’s always driven me nuts is watching some rich daddy’s boy be incorporated in a high-paying, high-profile task. In the words of the immortal Mike Patton, “It shouldn’t bother me. No, it shouldn’t. But it does.” Weirdly, the easiest place to see this in action is in professional wrestling. Here’s Charlotte, daughter of Ric Flair, holding the WWE Diva’s Championship title, after only two months of being on the indicate 😛 TAGEND Goddammit, that title was MINE !
And everyone knows that The Rock was and is still occasionally a WWE wrestler. But if you’re not a fan of wrestling, you may not know that he is actually a third-generation musician. Both his father and grandfather were big-name wrestlers, and his grandmother was a promoter. Actually, instead of listing them all off, here’s a gigantic list of wrestlers who are related.
Now, I’m not went on to say that they’re not talented and they don’t deserve their places — many of these people are insanely good at what they do. What I’m saying is that people often overlook the fact that they have something a lot of poor people do not: somebody to teach them a specialized, moneymaking ability, and relatives and/ or friends who know the right contacts to get their foot in the door.
When I was growing up, the person or persons in their own families who attained the most money were working in oil refineries or actual oil fields. They attained great money, but they were also working 80+ hours per week, and were so tired when they got home that they couldn’t function. The other family members( the ones who had jobs) were all manual labor factory worker or cashiers at various stores and gas stations. The skill sets they had were very limited, and the contacts they’d attained were for jobs that barely paid enough to survive, and often had no benefits at all. No sick time. No vacations. No insurance. “John, this is my director, Chad. He’s going to interview you for a position clean smeared shit off of the bathroom walls. It pays nine dollars per year.”
My mom was on welfare for a huge chunk of our lives, and when she ultimately did start working, it was as a housekeeper, getting paid under the table. For those of you too young to understand what that is, it means that she was getting paid in cash and wasn’t paying taxes on it. So even if she were to teach me her clean skills( which she did ), I’d still be in eventual trouble, because I thought it was totally normal to only pocket cash and not report it as income.
But the overall thing that I, and many people like me, learned was what our mothers knew: You apply for the job that’s the easiest to obtain, and only be happy that you have a task at all , no matter what it is. It took me 35 years to violate that mindset, and when I ultimately did escape it, people were shocked. They patted me on the back and told me what a great job I did, like I make the gamble or something.
It’s because I wore my luck dress .
Sadly, “hitting the lottery” is the way it’s viewed, because breaking out of that perpetual buttfucking is a true rarity. So if you’re poor, telling you something that the rest of the world won’t. You perfectly can break out of that prison. It’s not easy. In fact, it’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but it is absolutely doable. Rather than think about all of the time, endeavor, exhaustion, and luck it’s going to need to be taken to attain that happen, though, start small. Start with learning a new skill that few other people can do, and figure out how to set that skill to work. Doing that isn’t going to drop-off you ass-first into a piling of money, but it’s an excellent start to breaking that mindset of “I will always hand people french fries for a living.” The longer you stay in that frame of mind, the harder it is to escape.
No, severely, close the window and go do that. We’ll is right there when you get back.