The Poor Shouldn’t Smoke?

“I was in line at the store, and this woman in front of me paid for groceries with a Lone Star card, and then bought a pack of cigarettes with cash! OMG, can you believe it? And she had an iPhone and a fancy purse, I mean, what is wrong with this country…”

I can totally relate to what you are saying. And by “relate” I mean that I have also paid for food with my Lone Star “food stamps” card and then bought cigarettes with my debit card. I did that today, actually. OMG, right?

I am your nightmare. I am a drug addict with an iPod, checking his Facebook on his phone, carrying a $100 backpack wearing name brand skate shoes buying smokes and letting your tax dollars pay for his meal. Boo! If that’s all you know about me, that sentence probably makes you angry and shake your fist at “liberals.”

Here’s what that sentence doesn’t tell you. I’ve qualified for food stamps for a while. I didn’t want to take advantage of it…principles, pride, ego, whatever…I was going to get by on my own. But then I had to start making significant payments to probation, and I was not going to be able to afford anything. I was working during the slow period at the restaurant, living in a sober house and wearing nicotine patches that were given to me. I was eating leftovers from staff meals at work. In a stressed-out tearful phone call to my mother, she encouraged me to keep doing the right thing and to apply for food stamps, because it would be temporary until I paid off probation and the monthly breathalizer fee. So I did.

I skateboard and bus to a restaurant where I bust my ass 8 hours a day as a dishwasher. I don’t drink or do drugs anymore…sober 15 months. I bought these shoes in March with part of my income tax return. The iPod is second-hand from my family. My phone is a cheap piece of shit. I bought my backpack at Goodwill for $12 after looking for one for a month.

I get my music, books and movies from the public library. I don’t buy or own much. I buy cigarettes with money I have leftover after paying all my bills and rent, and I buy them instead of patches because it only costs me about $20 more to actually keep smoking. That’s my luxury purchase…a pack of smokes to enjoy and relieve a bit of stress every day so that I don’t turn around in line at the store to someone eyeing me and tell them, “Eat a smelly cock, sea cow.” That’s me being selfish and flawed, and I’m comfortable with it.

You’ll never know why the lady in front of you bought smokes, because you’re not her, and you have no idea what her life has been like…and given your lack of empathy, you won’t bother to find out. It must suck being so angry at the fact that there are 7 billion people on the planet that aren’t you. Grr. We all can make assumptions and snap judgments with little to no information. However, decent people tend to let it pass or recognize what they’re doing…as opposed to jumping online and voicing every awful thought in their heads. Maybe you don’t need to spill out all that bullshit from your big dumb brain into social networking.

But hey, if you want to play the snap judgment game, let’s play. You like to ask questions like “how can someone buy beer instead of saving money”, or “how can that poor person afford a tablet.” Let me ask some questions, then.

How can you sit there and watch that football game on Sunday instead of playing with your kids who haven’t seen you all week?

How can you buy the biggest flat screen TV in the store instead of putting that money away for your kid’s college fund and continue watching your perfectly acceptable existing TV?

How can you consider yourself faithful to your wife when you go to a strip club for lunch on a weekly basis?

How do you consider yourself a religious person when you ignore parts of the Bible that conflict with your poor-hating fuck-everybody-but-my-family-and-friends sensibilities?

How can you eat that when you know you want to lose weight and get healthy?

Why do you choose to stay in that failing marriage while cheating on your spouse instead of putting forth an effort to make it work?

Why do you expect rich people to give to charity when you won’t donate just a little bit of your time to helping someone else in need?

Why do you think you’re the only one who has suffered and experienced pain?

Why can’t we all just be perfect and adhere to our personal morals every second of the day? Why do we have to be so…human?


Originally published at www.9thcircleofheck.com on December 6, 2013.

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