Thursday, October 22, 2009

Screw Charades, I'm Playing Broke Bitch Today...

Sometimes I am completely baffled by life. Let me 'splain,

I am a United Way Captain for my job. We are famously involved in raising money and doing community outreaches every Fall for the charity, and due to my involvement with charities in general, I was nominated as a Captain by my boss for our department. Not like it's rocket science, but still it was a great gesture and surely I like doing it. Not to mention I get to rub elbows with a Patriots player at some point, but I digress.

So at our meeting last week, I was made aware that the "Leadership" of our company had participated at our kick-off for the UW in a "Poverty Simulation" exercise. Um, what?!

These 6+ figure salaried people sat in a room together and pretended they were in situations that would help them understand what it was like to be poor. I was completely dumbfounded. A week later, I sat there, listening to this and I was kind of upset. I lightly said to the woman next to me "They could have just come to my house", and I think she thought I was joking.

I don't know how this made them feel individually, if it gave them insight or was more like practicing for a play or what, but I was completely baffled. Having been through financial and emotional Hell the past few years, I started to tell a synopsis of things to that woman who thought I was joking.

I am a single mother. I get no child support and have to deal with the court system and restraining orders because my son's father is an addict and not exactly an upstanding citizen. I have received fuel assistance, I get WIC, Food stamps and used to get welfare. I had even received help from the Vincent St. DePaul Society. I gladly accept hand-me-down clothes for my child and I live paycheck to paycheck.

It sounds like a Lifetime movie when you think of it. Overcoming abusive relationships, raising my child alone. Being behind in bills month after month. Even at some points collecting unemployment. Dealing with utility shut-offs and wondering how you can survive on Ramen noodles with no gas for heat.

I am lucky I am able to be slightly more adept now with a steady and decent job that I love, but nothing is ever cast in stone.

So after my brief history, the woman says to me, "well at least you are ok now." What an assumption! I may be off some of the help, but not all. These forms of assistance don't pay attention to what you pay out a month. They look at everything BEFORE taxes are taken out, which to me has never made any sort of sense at all, since that is clearly not what you take home to pay bills with.

On paper I look ok, look like I make enough to survive. For one person. According to some accounts I make 133% over the poverty level, for a family of 2. To them poverty level is making minimum wage and having 37 children, most likely not fathered by the same person and living in a shack.

Poverty has many levels and affects people day after day. Yes there are definitely people far worse off than I am, but that doesn't mean it’s been easy my any means. I think it’s time they update their system, or at least take into account factors like your rent and bills and take a look at your income after taxes.

My mother has been struggling with disability and can't get help because she "makes too much money". How is that humanly possible when the 62 woman got let go from her job because she had been out disabled too long? When her disability barely covers her rent, let alone utilities and food?

So needless to say, as far as I have come, I still have a long way to go to secured financial independence, and with the economy in the toilet I doubt I will be fully out of the woods for some time.

Moreover, I can't believe they would play "Poverty Simulator" like it was some sort of fun party game. Screw charades, I want to play "Broke Bitch" today....



  1. Every poor person knows what it's like to be rich, because they've all fantasized about it many times, but not many rich people have fantasized about being poor, so they just don't understand..

  2. It does seem a little offensive - like turning real people into charactertures.

  3. Amen sista. You're singing my song. The people that really need help, can't get it. But, sure, the jackass who has 19 kids to 8 different scumbags can sit on her enormous ass and cash out. Fuckers. On the bright side I mentioned you in my last post!! Have a look see.


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