Just Hanging Out On My Soap Box....

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Hey there.
Good morning.
So, you saw the title.
I am totally all up on my soap box this morning so if you are not in the mood for that kinda post...
well, you know.
This is not meant to come off as a lecture, just a little venting and a reminder---for myself included because I am guilty of judging as well, I admit it.
And it's not a good trait.

This was already on my mind lately because I keep seeing these e-cards on facebook-you know the
one about the person on their iPhone while using a Link Card--- and then an interaction at the
grocery store yesterday left me feeling bad and sad and wondering what will become of this
crazy world...
Yes, all of this from needing milk, cheese, tortillas, bread and grapes.
Good Lord, keep this mama out of the grocery store!
I am talking about women + men and families and children and public aid, government assistance,
food stamps(or Link Cards) as we call them here.

Yesterday a woman in line ahead of me at the store had a shopping cart filled with food and was
paying with her Link Card(food stamps).
And Yes, she fit the "stereotype" many of us have in our heads as someone who relies on government assistance; she had
several kids with her, she was a very young mom and she appeared to be pregnant.
As she was shuffling her kids and pushing her cart out of the check-out the woman behind me
made a "ughhhhhhh" sound and rolled her eyes at the girl so I would see.
I could hear the woman huffing behind me a couple of times and I purposely would not turn
around to make eye contact with her.
Then when I was paying the woman made a comment to the cashier somewhere along the lines of
"Well, it must be nice...."
That's all I heard.
This, my friends,  makes my blood boil.
The judging of people that we do not know.
People whom which we have absolutely NO idea of what their story is, or their circumstances.
It makes me sad.

And it makes me wonder...
Could we never, ever imagine ourselves in a situation where we would need some type of assistance? A helping hand of some sort?
Are we really that far removed from "people like that'?
I know I'm not.
Could a job loss, separation/divorce, abusive relationship, catastrophic illness or other family hardships not land
us there in that same place one day?
It could.
Is it only because people "don't want to work"?
I don't think so.
My husband has been looking for a different job since he graduated with his Masters Degree a year
and a half ago with no luck.
Thankfully he has a job, but it just goes to show that actively looking for a job right now does not
necessarily mean you will find one.
Could I sit here and say that I could never, ever imagine myself in a similar situation?
Absolutely not.

And what gives us the right to judge like this, anyway?
It is not my place.
Do I think we have a serious problem in this country as far as people using our welfare system as a
way of life rather than a means-to-an-end in a temporary situation?
Do I think that women purposely have children knowing they have no way to support them but knowing that
they can rely on government assistance?

I am not naive or clueless to this way of life, I am not the white mom in the suburbs that has no idea
what goes on in "those kinds of homes" or with "those kinds of people".
I have seen a lot of it and have been in their homes and know a lot of "those" families.
I have worked with many, many women and children that were in this exact situation and many or
most of them did have children knowing this way of life was how they would get by.
It is a cycle and a way of life and it is sad. And depressing.
And yes, very frustrating.

I don't have the answers.
And I do not think it is a problem that our government can simply fix and I don't think that judging people
when we do not know their individual situations, 
is going to fix it, either.
I will also not sit here and say that I have never ever judged, of course I have.
But I guess what really got to me and what made me just feel really sad and discouraged was that
this was a woman saying this within ear shot of another woman, another mom.
And within ear shot of her little kids.
Sure, they probably didn't hear her and if they did they probably didn't understand,  they were
pretty little, but still.

Like I said, I don't have the answers...and I don't think there is just one.
I think it has a lot to do with poverty and parenting, hardship, culture, self-respect, self-esteem,
education or lack there of, family situations, generational cycles, single-parenting, poverty,
absentee fathers....the list goes on.

I was raised in a two-parent middle class home.
My parents are still married.
My dad always worked and my mom didn't work until we were older.
We never wanted for anything, we have a large extended family and lots of support.
And as adults, with families of our own, we still have it.
Everyone cannot say the same thing.
Lots of people, like the mom from the grocery store, may not be able to say that even ONE thing
on my short list is true for her.
Not even one.

It's just something to think about.


  1. Good stuff right there my friend. I have a masters degree in social work and you my friend are spot on. A large majority of the people that I worked with in a homeless shelter in San Antonio, TX had some sort of mental health issue. It is so very tricky because on the outside they look fine, perfectly capable of working hard, carrying their own weight. But they were not able. They needed help. Untreated mental health issues can easily lead to self medicating with drugs and alcohol and now you have even bigger, worse problems. I think most of us are just one breath away from being in a situation where we cannot help ourselves...we need outside support. To whom much is given...much is expected.

  2. i like this post, amy.
    i can hear what you're saying.
    it breaks my heart when people are so hurtful and just plain mean to each other too.
    thats just not what this life is about.
    and it bothers me that people feel so stuck in certain positions and have been taught that this is just what they should expect from themselves.
    heartbreaking....all of it.

  3. i was that woman nearly three years ago.
    one day, my husband made a six figure income, and the next, we lived off of $300 a week unemployment.
    lost EVERYTHING(materially).
    it FOREVER changed my mind on the issue of judging others and their situations.
    we had to use 'that' money to make it through, and God is so gracious, we did make it.
    thanks for this, girlie.

  4. thank you for this.

    i also grew up middle class, with health insurance and all my other needs met etc. which was why i was so humbled when 14 years ago i got pregnant right after getting married and had to get medicaid to pay for my prenatal care. my husband and i had both just started new jobs and neither of us had been employed long enough to qualify for insurance through work yet.

    i was only on medicaid for about 3 months before we got insurance (thankfully, the state i lived in at the time had JUST passed a law stating that pregnancy couldnt be considered a pre existing condition!) but that was an eye opening and as i said, humbling time.

    i made a couple of promises to myself back then:
    I would never be in that position again. ( I haven't. But honestly, sometimes stuff happens beyond our control. So much of it is the luck of the draw.) and i would never again judge people who were. i have never judged.

    I know there are people who abuse the system. But there are also just a lot of people like me.

  5. I love this, Amy.

    I have always taught in impoverished areas and I hear all about these stories. I don't have the answers, either. Although I am burned out at work, I try to focus on the fact that I am trying to give these students a way out through education. I just spoke with a former student who has custody of her 17-year-old brother because their mom is detoxing, AGAIN. I mean, really? How can we judge these kids...who turn into adults...what skills/tools were they given? Anyhoo, I'm rambling now, but it's nice to read something with compassion. xoxo

  6. When I was in elementary school my Dad broke his back at work. He was out of work for a long time. Both of my parents had always worked. It took 2 incomes to survive in our house. Loosing an income was devastating. I remember my parents getting food stamps at one point. I also remember a holiday when the only reason we had a nice dinner was because of food pantry delivery from a local church. I also remember my parents filing bankruptcy around this same time. I'd say, yes, I can imagine being in that situation. Thanks for writing this.


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