Friday, July 28, 2006

Alright. Time for a rant.

Morgan Spurlock, the guy who made Supersize Me, is on Oprah right now. He and his fiance did this thing where they decided to live on minimum wage for 30 days. He's talking about how hard it is, and Oprah is preaching about the number of working poor.

OK. I'm offended by this. I'm offended that these people, who were raised in profiled, think that they can now empathize with the working poor because they spent 30 days living at the poverty line.

I have news for them. They can't.

I grew up in a family where we lived paycheck to paycheck. The most my dad ever made in a year was $18,000, and we were a family of 3. My dad lost his health insurance, which really only covered hospitalization, when I was a freshman in high school. There were times when things were so tight that we got food stamps because without them, we wouldn't have been eating.

When I was little, I never had new clothes. They either came from the thrift shop or from hand-me-downs. In high school, I got two pairs of pants (never jeans), a skirt, and five tops and a pair of tennis shoes. That had to last me all year. I was in a public high school with no uniforms. Even though it was an inner-city school, I still stood out among my peers, who tended to come from middle class families since I was in the gifted and talented program. I don't remember my parents ever getting new clothes, except on my mom's 50th birthday. Her brother gave her $100 and told her she had to spend it on herself.

I can't remember my mom ever going to the doctor in my whole life until she had a heart attack my sophomore year of high school. My dad would only go when he had an ear infection bad enough to make him cry (his ears had been damaged by his years as an artillery instructor in the Army during WWII. The VA wouldn't acknowledge that that's where his problems came from, and therefore wouldn't help him).

Every time we thought that we would be getting ahead of the game, something would happen and we'd fall behind again. We never went on vacation. My dad worked six or seven days a week, 10 hours a day. My mom worked 40 hours a week.

But you know, we made it. And I always knew that as bad as things were for us at times, there were people who were worse off. My dad gave money whenever he had it to St. Vincent DePaul, or to the Children's Hospital Free Care Fund. If he'd be approached by a homeless person, he'd buy them a meal. Everytime he passed a Salvation Army kettle a Christmas time, he'd put money in. And he taught me to do the same.

So forgive me if I am offended by multi-millionaires thinking that they know what it's like and that they can preach at the rest of us how good we have it just because they spent a month around minimum wage.

That's why I haven't gone to any of the agencies here that offer help to the poor even though I have struggled this month. I know that if they helped me pay my electric bill, that's one person who really needs the help who will have to go without. I know that if I go to the food bank and get a couple weeks of food, that there is a family out there who will have to make due with a little less. I know that if my church helps me out with gas money and food money, that the is someone else who needs help more who may not be getting it.

On Monday, I will be starting a job that pays very well. It'll take me a couple months to catch up from these six weeks, but when I do, I will be relatively secure. I will continue to help people who haven't been as luck as I have, because I KNOW how hard it can be, and not just for a month.

It offends me that they think they know what it is like, even though they had the security to know that they were going back to their multi-million dollar, priviledged lives in 30 days. And before you Oprah-philes out there start telling me how much good she has done with her money, and how she grew up poor, I know that. But she is so far removed from that world, that she doesn't know what it's really like.

That is the end of my rant. We now return you to your regularly scheduled misanthropy.

1 comment:

Tim said...

I agree with you 100%. I can't stand Oprah, and think she is all about the publicity, not really caring anything about the poor people she supposedly helps. But that's just my opinion, only God can judge her and the others like her.
Your life growing up sounds a lot like mine. We always wore hand-me-downs until there was no one left to hand them down to, and we never had money to spend on luxuries and a lot of times none for necessities, but my dad always had enough for the collection basket at church.
I do wish you would rethink about going to the food bank for help if you need it. I work with our local one through the store I work for, and they are always glad to help anyone out, and a lot of times they have too much food - especially the perishibles like dairy and meat - and end up throwing them out. They are really some amazingly nice people who would be hurt if they thought someone wouldn't come there for help. I'm sure it's like that in most other places too, so while I admire your convictions I also want you to realize that you're not taking food from someone else by going there.
By the way, GOOD LUCK on starting your new job!!