Tuesday, November 8, 2011
Today, I had lots and lots of conversation with people about money, lack of money, and how the jacked up distribution of resources in this country is effing with everybody's lives.
Person 1: Needs thousands of dollars worth of necessary (not cosmetic) orthodontia she has been putting off for a few years and can not afford. Is considering taking financial help from her father for the first time in her adult life - something she realizes is a privilege to even be able to consider.
Person 2: Has a friend who was diagnosed with breast cancer last summer and due to health care red tape has not yet begun to receive any care for it. The friend can not afford care anyway, and is leaning toward choosing to die slowly from cancer rather navigating all the health care bullshit to have her family go into debt they can never get out of. The person I spoke to has $23,000 of school loans. Started to pay them off, dipped down well below $20,000, then was hit by a car while riding his bike, and is now back up to $23,000 in debt due to medical bills. Tried to have a conversation with his student loan company on the phone about why he can not afford to pay his bills and was hung up on.
Person 3: Works for Peet's. Called in on the day of the General Strike to say he was not coming in. Upon returning to work, learned that his employer told his fellow employees that he had called in sick.
Person 4: Has thousands upon thousands of dollars in school debt. Was a public defender for about five months after law school before being laid off in the midst of the economic nosedive about two and a half years ago. Has not been able to find employment that is in line with his skills and his law degree since. Recently returned to school. Found out five days ago that through some mix-up with the financial aid office, he either had to pay them $9,000 by today or be dropped from his classes. Went to financial aid office to beg his way back into classes. Still owes that $9,000 he does not have.
These are just the notable ones. I do recall vaguely that at least three or four other people came in and our conversation quickly veered toward our broken economic system and the myriad ways it causes people suffering.
I thought I would keep it to myself that this is not new to me. That my people have been suffering for a long time . . . that immigrants, queer folks, brown folks, women, and others have been experiencing this stuff for generations. It is not new to us. But instead I listened, sympathized. Empathized, even. Been there. Am there. Done that. Doing that right now. Yup, we're all fucked. Yup, it's going to have to get way worse before it gets any better. Yup, between our broken economic and political systems and climate change, it's going to get a lot lot lot worse. Yup, yup, yup. Let me buy you this cup of coffee.