On my street, a father gets laid-off while his wife is pregnant with their second child because all of the factories are stopping their second and third shifts. The mother will get no ice-cream in the middle of the night, no flowers in the hospital or even the chance to buy an outfit or a toy for the new baby –to which everyone comforts her by saying, “It’s ok, the baby won’t notice or understand.”
Dinner table discussions revolve around how to make a box of cereal, some milk, three eggs, two potatoes and a zucchini last four more days until the food stamps kick in again, or what they should spend their last seven dollars on since they need dish soap, toilet paper, gas for the car and shampoo –don’t even think about light bulbs or batteries for the smoke detector until payday.
On my street, the utility companies come around and turn off everyone who’s even a little late, because if they have to come out for one or two, it’s just more efficient that way; and then many go without electricity for days until they can pay twice the bill (on payday) to get it turned back on, in the meantime trying to salvage food in a cooler, and taking the kids to the library because it’s either air-conditioned or heated—depending on the season –and it’s free.
On my street, many people have degrees, but they have to dumb-down their resumes because they are often over-qualified for available jobs, and they have learned to lie about already having insurance, because employers don’t want to pay for that, but even if they do have insurance, they can’t afford to use it.
On my street, mothers walk their children in second-hand strollers, wearing second hand clothes, suffering from a broken tooth they can’t fix because the check engine light has been on in the car for three months, and they don’t have the money to get it fixed, and they watch the other mothers sipping lattes in the cafes remembering when that was them once, and holding on to the hope that maybe one day they can have the money in their pocket for a cup of coffee.