Thursday, January 22, 2004

The Intrusion of Hardship

An eviction notice is masking taped to Apt. 12C. A middle aged woman lives in 12C along with son who attends a local community college. She always greets me in the stairwell with a friendly smile and pat for the boys.

What happened? Until recently, I saw her regularly return from work in the evenings. Her son was not one of the boyz hanging out selling drugs. Why the eviction? I'm not sure, but possibly her brother's murder over Christmas time pushed her over the edge. When her son found out, he punched a hole in the front door spewing blood everywhere. There were screams and an ambulance. Later, her smile was gone, and her hair uncombed. I haven't seen her in weeks. Maybe she returned to her family in the DR. The half-known stories of an apartment building.

I bring this story up, because I feel an eruption of my inner commie. Sunday's magazine story on the working poor focuses on the story of a woman stuck in one crappy minimum wage job after another.

Yes, she is partly in her position due to bad decisions and to irresponsibility, but she has also had some bad luck. She had four children; the last had an IQ of 59. A rough childhood, slimebag husbands, childcare problems, illness, lack of teeth -- all these circumstances have kept her poor.

She has received help from the government, but that does not seem to be enough to improve her lot in life. No, she's not a beggar or starving, but she's not doing well either.
So often the crises that devastate the poor are family related.

The author writes,
Money may not always cure, but it can often insulate one problem from another. Parents of means could have addressed Amber's handicaps without uprooting themselves and discarding their assets. They could have purchased services; brought their own skills to bear and walled off their house, their jobs and their lifestyle from the intrusion of hardship. In the house of the poor, however, the walls are thin and fragile, and troubles seep into one another.

Though our landlord is trying to push out the long term residents of the building with their rent controlled apartments, the working poor are here with me. There's Angela in Apt. 11B raising a 13 year old daughter and a 3 year old grandchild. Out of work for a year because of her poor credit rating excluded her from retail jobs. The old Asian woman in 11C works long hours somewhere. One homeless man slept under our stairwell for a week last month.

I feel very close to those people not only because I can hear them thumping around next door. Address their needs, and you get my vote.

Things to Read
Google Bombing makes the Times.

J. Lo and Ben are now really over!

$470,000 buys you a four bedroom house in Dallas or a one bedroom apartment in Manhattan.

Things to Remember

Not only are we going to New Hampshire ... we're going to South Carolina and Oklahoma and Arizona and North Dakota and New Mexico. We're going to California and Texas and New York. And we're going to South Dakota and Oregon and Washington and Michigan and then we're going to Washington, D.C., to take back the White House! Yeeeeeeah!

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