walkitout (walkitout) wrote,

ramblings about people I don't know

I was at Julie's Place last night with T., who had, as usual, a waffle and chocolate milk while I had, equally as usual, vegetable soup, decaf tea and toast. The table across the aisle had two women and one man carrying on an earnest conversation about Life. One of the nuggets of wisdom offered up by one of the women: I start out thinking, I'm going to change, but then I do things I know I shouldn't be doing. [Hmmm. Wonder what juicy confession will follow? Drinks too much, maybe? Hopefully this isn't a small NA group; that could get a little weird. I mean, I'm _pretty_ sure T. has limited understanding of this kind of stuff, but you never know.] Like, I go into a casino. [Ruh roh.] And that's okay, if you have a little extra money [but dangerous]. I just have to remember that's not a way to get ahead.

This _is_ wisdom. This is _not_ dangerous, no matter how tender the ears. But yowza. Yeah, that's an important thing to know; I guess it always worries me when that's on the list of salient things to keep track of.

I remember reading, again, recently, that when The Grapes of Wrath (the film) was seen in Eastern bloc nations, viewers were puzzled. How can they be poor, they wondered. They have cars!

With that firmly in mind, I offer a link to the NYT's article "The New Poor", which is about the added fraction of people who will be chronically under- and un-employed going forward (this isn't new; it happens every time there's a recession; however the effect is probably a lot bigger and more national this time, instead of being isolated geographically to a region where all the jobs got up and ran away to pick on people who live further south).


At 4 pages online, the article is worth the time, but it weirded me out. Ms. Eisen (who is, I feel sure, a generally responsible and decent woman), has been unemployed for a couple years now, relying upon food from a church.

[quote begins here]When her name is called, she steps into a windowless alcove, where a smiling woman hands her three bags of groceries: carrots, potatoes, bread, cheese and a hunk of frozen meat.

“Haven’t we got a lot to be thankful for?” Ms. Eisen asks.

For one thing, no pinto beans.

“I’ve got 10 bags of pinto beans,” she says. “And I have no clue how to cook a pinto bean.”[quote ends here]

Her husband and her adult daughter are on disability. She has been unemployed for two years. True, her car broke down recently, but presumably before that she had the ability to get to a library. She says she's going to e-mail a couple job prospects, so she has some access to computers. And in all that time, with 10 bags of pinto beans, she couldn't be troubled to learn how to cook them? For that matter, her _husband_ couldn't be troubled to learn how to cook them?

My mother's excuse was growing up on welfare and the family being so poor they couldn't afford meat but only beans. And even then, they were better off than the family that sent their son to school with only lard between slices of bread for a sandwich (yeah, I really did write that). I think I've mentioned before (in positive tones) how my father's mother had a half acre garden because money was so tight that was the only way they could afford to eat. Once my parents had money, there was no way in hell they were going to eat beans (altho to be fair, I distinctly remember baked beans with hot dogs at least a few times). I came by my money issues directly from my parents; like my father (born in 1934, natch), I deal with the possibility of being poor by overcompensation.

I do think that we owe every member of our society some assistance when times are bad. I really do. I'm a big ole tax and spend liberal. But I also think that maybe it's okay to eat beans once in a while. For one thing, they're very heart healthy, thus improving the odds of avoiding high blood pressure and heart disease. Also, the fiber might help with colon health. And they're cheap. Also, reduces carbon impact.

Sorry. Just having a moment here.

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