Saturday, October 12, 2013

Living in Poverty

I had a job interview yesterday that asked me my experience with poverty.  So many memories came flooding back.  Memories that I don't necessary block, but I don't think of them daily.  I know money doesn't define who you are, and for what reasons would I ever talk about this.  There are 2 people in my life that I have shared my families experience with, and had never planned to disclose it in an interview.

Obviously this question took my by surprise, so I was only able to share a small bit of my experience due to my emotional state at the time.  I need more preparation for stuff like this.

My family went from living in a large, beautiful home, in what people would call the ritzy area of town, to living in a run down old commercial building with no heat or a/c.  I didn't think of us as rich or as poor, but we had everything we needed in both places.

I am not sure what happen, but suddenly we lost our home (I didn't know this at the time) and we were moving.  My parents rented an old run down building  and decided to start a thrift store, and our family got to live in the store.  We all had our own bedroom, consisting of enough room for a mattress and some clothes.  We refer to it as a shelf.  We lived in part of the storage areas, with curtains acting as our door, and we used space heaters to take the edge off in the winter.  All of our clothes and shoes came from the store, even panties and socks.  I don't recall getting anything new except my awesome Guess bag for school.  We used bags, not back packs at this time in the 80's.

There was one bathroom in this building, and this is where we would sponge bath when needed, with a pan of water mom would heat up on a stove that had come in the thrift store in our make shift kitchen.  We all used the same hot or warm water to clean ourselves....YUCK now that I think about it.  Once a week we would go to friends of the family and church to take turns showering in their single wide trailer, which was huge, and they lived like rich folks to us.

We had very little money to live on, but I didn't know this.  Every week my family would load up and go dumpster jumping for food that had been thrown out.  Our main place of jumping was Albertsons, so we called it Uncle Al's.  We got some great food there!  Yogurt, break, Captain Crunch cereal, bread, and fruit filled deserts that were super good.  My mom would go once or twice a week to help clean out the deli or produce section of a grocery store, and in return she would get to split the old produce that they were going to throw away with the other helpers.  This program was called Helping Hands, and it helped keep food in our bellies.

Our family was never big in going out to eat, hello, there were 8 kids in our family.  I recall two special occasions where we bought a bucket of KFC and took it to the park, and another time we all went to McDonald's for dinner.

After my dad died, my mom started a tradition to take the family to dinner once a year on my dad's birthday.  This was a big treat to go out to eat.

Being rich is a state of mind.  My parents always talked of everything we had, not what we didn't have.  I believe I choose my path in life far before I came here.  I would not change my past for it has made me who I am today.

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