The Working Poor (Poverty In America)

 

In one respect, Ann was typical of the low-wage working people I spoke with across the country – in New Hampshire towns, North Carolina fields, and Los Angeles Housing Projects.  They were white and black, Latino and Asian, native-born and newly arrived in America, and they were not gripped by rage.  Ann did not point a finger of blame.  She did not make sweeping criticisms of society at large.  “I got myself into this, I made the choices,” she said plainly.  “In spite of the fact that the credit card companies are taking advantage of people, that they’re really awful in charging such awful interest rates, I made the choice of using them.  I haven’t used them in a couple of years.  And plus I can’t answer the phone.”  She did not answer the phone because she hated to hear the bill collectors.  “They have all kinds of tones of voices,” she said.  They left alarming messages on the answering machine, like, “Call this number immediately.”

Always when she talked this way she then apologized for “complaining.”  But I was an instigator in her complaints, I suppose, for I kept asking questions.  What does this feel like?  What do you think about?  How foreign does the zone along the edge of poverty seems to someone who grew up in middle-class comfort?  “Nobody really wants to know that sometimes $2 is a significant amount, and $25 always is tremendous,” she said, as if this condition still amazed her as well.  “Tell me it’s not true for ordinary, everyday people.  Is it the same?  I mean, normal life” — she gave a despairing laugh — “before life was like this.  I can’t remember.  I can’t remember what it was like.  I mean, every day and every night when I’m trying to fall asleep, there’s this worry hanging.  Is the car gonna make it through because I haven’t maintained it properly?  How am I gonna get this?  I know I have to do this.  How am I gonna get it done?  How am I gonna stretch to get these bills paid?  If one extra thing happens — .”       – Excerpt from The Working Poor Invisible in America by David K Shipler

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DJRoboBiscuit

Expert on Life (Movies, Books, Television, Gaming, Tennis). Aspiring Novelist and Philosopher. Big Fan of Satire and Parody.