Not Being Poor
A Rebuttal to a Whiny Screed by John Scalzi
To not be poor...
...know exactly how much everything costs.
...don't let your kids waste their lives being indoctrinated by watching TV.
...buy $800 cars because they’re cheaper than fixing a newer one.
...know regular dental care and insurance is cheaper than tooth-rotting sweets.
...take care of your home so your kid's friends will want to come over to yours.
...don't be ashamed of saving money or accepting handouts.
...move far away from the freeway.
...buy a month's worth of rice for the price of one short-lived box of Raisin Bran.
...take a well-off sibling at his word when he says he doesn’t mind when you ask for help.
...buy off-brand toys.
...run a heater in only one room of the house.
...don't have "friends" who would steal $5 off your coffee table.
...plan for your kids to have a growth spurt.
...teach your kids stealing meat from the store is wrong and unacceptable under all conditions.
...buy Goodwill underwear.
...everyone who lives with you earns their keep.
...know the difference between inexpensive shoes and cheap shoes is not price.
...teach your kids to learn despite 15-year-old textbooks and no air conditioning.
...know $8 an hour is way more than most people on the planet live on.
...know most people don’t give a damn about you no matter how much you make.
...work an overnight shift under florescent lights if need be.
...don't give your body to a man who you would have to beg for child support.
...be grateful you have a toilet.
...stop the car to take a lamp from a stranger’s trash.
...keep your kitchen so clean you won't have to worry whether a cockroach will skitter over the bread.
...know a GED actually makes a goddamned difference.
...don't shop at the mall.
...marry someone whom you trust to watch your kids if you must take a job.
...call the police to bust into the apartment right next to yours if you know they are criminals.
...talk to that girl even if she’ll probably just laugh at your clothes; maybe she won't.
...invite others for dinner, however humble.
...sweep up a sidewalk with lots of brown glass on it.
...improve your language, knowing others learn about you by the way you talk.
...earn that 35-cent raise.
...make sure library, free and cheap books fill your home.
...go find 120 soda cans to earn that last six dollars for the utility bill.
...pick up and eat that dropped mac and cheese on the floor.
...work as hard as anyone, anywhere - then leverage what you've earned.
...don't be stupid.
...don't be lazy.
...spend the six-hour wait in an emergency room with a sick child asleep on your lap talking to the cashier about payment options and plans.
...never buy anything someone else hasn’t bought first.
...pick the 10 cent ramen instead of the 12 cent ramen because that’s two extra packages for every dollar.
...teach your 14 year old to live with choices s/he makes.
...make people tired of you being grateful.
...know you’re being judged.
...buy a box of crayons and a $1 coloring book from a community center Santa.
...check the coin return slot of every soda machine you go by.
...know you can always find or make shelter.
...don't spend that buck on a Lotto ticket.
...don't hope the register lady will spot you the dime.
...if your child makes the same mistakes you did, and won’t listen to you beg them against doing so, let go.
...don't ignore a cough that doesn’t go away.
...don't lease a couch.
...failing any other options, collecting cans included, you can survive a few days without $200 waiting for your paycheck to come in.
...take four years of night classes for an Associates of Art degree.
...sleep on a lumpy futon bed.
...know where the shelter is.
...know that many people who were poor are now not because they chose not to be so.
...quit sniveling over how hard it is to stop being poor.
...use the options you have.
...at minimum, run in place.