and now for a word from the unentitled

There’s something about being poor that’s very akin to walking on thin ice. Every move seems a perilous venture. The trick is to step lively and light. Do not fall.

I fell. ¹

And at the worst possible time in American history. The poor and the elderly, the disabled and mentally challenged, we’ve all been labeled undesirables, marginalized and vilified, and dismissed as undeserving drains on decent society by politicians. Keep in mind, these are the same men who live with their hands out, seeking financial contributions from wealthy donors to promote their particular brand of intolerance. They’re the same men who exempt themselves from oversight and tilt the playing field in their own favor.

My sin, the cause of my financial collapse, is both dental and a misguided choice of college major. You see, I went with English, a notoriously feeble option compared to, say, petroleum engineering or molecular biology. I like language and ideas more than money, although I made a fairly good living as a copywriter in advertising until I aged out at 56 — that’s ancient by any creative standard. Except my own, of course; I still believe I’m charting new territory.

In the aftermath of a layoff, I drafted hundreds of cover letters, sent hundreds of not unimpressive resumes. I sought assistance from headhunters and placement firms, trolled the Internet and classifieds, pestered former colleagues, filled out endless job applications. In the end, I found myself in the lobby of an insurance company hugging my portfolio like a flotation device, heart pounding in my ears. An interview with the HR representative, a grim woman unencumbered by personality, convinced me to abandon hope.   

Not long after, I was living in the car. Eventually, maybe inevitably, everything I owned was seized by a storage company to cover the $13,000 storage bill.

My smile became a victim, as well. Dental care is a luxury I can’t afford and no one is eager to hire a woman with what amounts to a prominent disfigurement. My teeth were the final nail in my coffin as a job seeker. So I’m standing knee-deep in the smoking smithereens of what was once a great life. Where to lay the blame for this unwelcome and drastic change of fortune isn’t at issue. I was the decision-maker, so the responsibility is mine.

Politicians freely scorn the poor as lazy and devious, criminals all, because we’re easy pickings. We’ve no lobbyists working on our behalf, no piles of money to throw in campaign coffers; we’re unable to curry the favor of the government representing us. The hypocrisy and deceit in Washington is absolutely staggering.

But you know what? Down here at the bottom of the social scale, I’ve encountered some of the finest people on God’s green earth. People whose motives I don’t question, people I trust and admire beyond measure. They’re the ones who provide the actual assistance — whether in healthcare or housing or simple friendship– and they do so with unexpected grace and consideration, not disdain. Help isn’t an easy thing to ask for, but is so desperately welcome in crushing times of need. We’re only human, after all; we fail. Fortunately, there are still some who are more human than others. May it ever be so.

copyright © 2017 little ittys


¹ This isn’t an apology or a solicitation for pity. It’s a recounting of events, with a hearty ‘kiss my ass’ thrown in for this deeply corrupt administration.

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5 thoughts on “and now for a word from the unentitled

  1. God, you are such a survivor! Seriously. And it interests me that your degree is in English. That’s what I started going for, thinking it would give me options (plus I love literature). Then a divorce left me scrambling to beef up my clerical pay with a business administration degree. Working days, going to school at night…minimum wage is a killer…oh wait, I got off point here. I guess I’m trying to prove that even though I am presently married to someone who manages money better than I do and keeps me from going broke making art, I have been down that road of hanging on by a thread and feeling like the “powers that be” are against you. It puts hair on your chest.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. A little Nair took care of the hairy chest issue. And you’re right, we’ve all been down similar paths. The surprise is, I’m fine with poor. I love my little apartment; I adore the people I’m surrounded by (including you and Rache); I’m content with my life. Politicians, though, are desperate to finance a tax cut for donors, so under the bus we go.

      Liked by 1 person

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