There is Nothing To Be Ashamed Of
You Are Not Alone
The state of the economy of today has caused many changes in the lifestyles of the American People. The once hoity-toity upper class has now become the middle class. The once stable middle class folks are now pushing the limits of the poverty level. It has put a thumb down on all of us. Unforeseen circumstances can turn things around 180 degrees on all of us.
I had a good middle class job. I was a successful butcher, making a good wage. I was saving money and investing in the company stocks. Then I became injured on the job. It was a clear cut case, but the company that I worked for, year in and year out kicked me to the curb. I had lost the use of my hand and couldn’t hold a knife anymore. They had no more use for me. The workers comp claim was a joking fiasco, denied all the way, and I ended up with a pittance of a settlement and to fend for myself as far as my medical expenses were concerned.
The money that I had saved and earned from the stocks was gone in three months, all taken by medical bills. I couldn’t find a job that paid any more than a hair over minimum wage. A 55 year old man with a gimpy hand isn’t worth much these days when jobs are at a premium. I tried mowing lawns and doing yard work…I’m not as young as I used to be, but I kept at it. It was not enough. I tried running a café, but it was a dead end proposition.
Soon we couldn’t pay our bills. The low paying jobs paid enough for the power bill and gas in the car or truck. We had to alternate car payments every month, constantly a month behind on them now. But each month we were sinking deeper and deeper into the quagmire of debt. Eventually we couldn’t feed ourselves.
So, for the first time since the kids were all babies, I swallowed my pride and we went down and applied for food stamps. And we got them. It was easy. I felt awkward in the social services office. I felt like I didn’t want to be associated with all of the other people in there, the dregs of society and the losers, the bums and the druggies.
But I was wrong. There were people there my age, and people that were in their thirties and forties. People that were clean and well dressed, people that still hung on to their pride. There were people there that were in the same boat I was in. No stereotypes, just the unfortunate victims of our nation’s bad politics. People just like me. I felt no shame to be part of that crowd. I felt camaraderie.
I began to see the same people at the Labor Dept. office. We all had a common cause. We began to talk, to share information and to try to help each other out. We were all in this together. We were all on food stamps, we were all looking for jobs, and we all became friends. We soon learned to pool our resources and share supplies that we had gotten at the food pantries. What one person couldn’t use, another could. We’d trade and barter. And then once or twice a month, we would all get together and share everything we all had with one another at a giant pot luck dinner.
Is this what it was like in the 40’s when war rationing created shortages here at home? Was this what it was like during the depression? Hard times seem to bring people together. Maybe it is different in the inner city, but in this small mountain community, it is the way life is. As it stands right now, I literally haven't even a penny to my name...a far cry from 2 years ago. But I am confident that the Good Lord will provide.
If you are on food stamps or some other government aid, don’t hang your head low. Don’t be ashamed. You are not alone. Keep looking for work, both above board and under the table, continue to be a useful member of society and always give thanks to the Good Lord above for what you are getting. Many people have it much worse than you do.
©2012 By Del Banks
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