Pecan Pie

Social Anxiety from the South

Friendship. Ur doin it rong.

Well, it finally happened.

Not because I am atheist.

Not because I am liberal.

Not because I am loud, provocative and offensive.

I lost a friend because I am poor.

It didn’t start out that way.  It started out as a typical Facebook debate over liberal and conservative ideals.  Welfare was brought up, as usually happens no matter what the original topic is, and I reminded my friend that I am a government assistance recipient.

It isn’t much.  My son receives Medicaid and SNAP (the new name for the federal food stamp program.)  We recently voluntarily gave up his WIC benefits because I felt we did not need them.

I take a lot of pride in the contents of my friends list.  I did one of those “who’s on your list” things about a year or so ago.  Most of my list is composed of people who are opposite of me in almost every respect.  Religion, politics, education, financial situation, sexual orientation, marital status, you name a demographic variable and my friends are different than me.

I think that’s awesome.

Back to the story.

This friend became upset because I did not choose to take him up on a job offer he presented to me several months ago.  If I remember correctly, this offer was presented as I was choosing to return to school to begin my graduate degree.  The decision had already been made, I had come to an agreement with my family about the support they would give to help me achieve this goal and I had already accepted a job on campus.  If I remember correctly…it’s entirely possible that I have the timeline wrong.  If I do, it means the offer came as I was graduating last summer (pretty sure that isn’t it) or it came after I had already begun classes, taken a job and would be unable to do something different.  Quitting in the middle of the semester is grossly irresponsible financially for a number of reasons.  Not the least of which is that any financial aid received gets all messed up and withdrawing with F’s or I’s doesn’t work the same way at the graduate level as it does as an undergraduate.

Not that any of this even matters.

There is a pervasive idea in this country that if you are poor, you are undeserving.  You must work your fingers to their bloody bone, never have anything nice, always be miserable until you climb up bruised and beaten to the next tiny rung on the social mobility ladder and you’ll be grateful about it whether or not you actually reach the next level.

Because I am poor, I must try and get a job any place I can, shun any chance at happiness or goal fulfillment, never buy anything new, hide my face away inside my home so that no one gets the wrong idea that my life might actually be good and never draw out of a system I have paid into consistently.

I should not use my talents to get the education I need to have the career I want if I am poor because it might mean 1/10000000 of 1% of the aid I receive might come from someone who does not think I should have it.

(Wonder how well that will work when I start demanding the money I pay in taxes only go to those in need and NOT fund war or farm subsidies or corporate welfare.)

I have a great life.  I have a wonderful family.  I am happy and fulfilled.  I work a job I love that provides me with a small salary, great experience and allows me to go to school at a significant discount.  It adds to my employment capital, AKA the “thud factor” on the curriculum vitae that I will provide to the school where I earn my PhD.

I’m angry that I feel like I need to explain myself.  I’m not doing anything wrong.  I’m sad that someone would choose to judge me and refuse my friendship over $300 per month that buys food and only food for my family.

When I was strung out, I hid away.  I never applied or received any assistance from the gov’t.  Thank Bob my family thought I deserved to survive or I’d probably be homeless and still strung out right now.  It wasn’t until I decided to go get those things I want for my life and had a family to support that I applied for assistance in the first place.  It wasn’t until I decided to make something of myself that I asked for help.

And this is why I know it isn’t about welfare fraud or welfare drug users or welfare queens, whatever the hell that even is.

Because I’m not any of those things, but I am still undeserving, I am still a leech on the system; I am still filthy liberal scum.

Guess what?

Friendship. Ur doin it rong.

Written by thelittlepecan

August 26, 2011 at 1:29 pm

13 Responses

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  1. HeyThelittlepecan. Just a quick note to let you know I’ve read your blog and I really love your honesty, but I was especially moved by this piece. I know you wrote this awhile ago, but I like it so much I’m commenting on it regardless! You’ve done a really great thing pursuing your studies and adjusting your work-life balance. I’m glad you’re happier and that you can see it’s better to leave behind people who don’t support you. I’ve been through a couple of these moments in my life now, where I’d rather live on next-to-no money while I pursue a change in direction, and I can only commend you and anyone else who does the same. Thanks for sharing.

    The Other Sociologist

    November 10, 2011 at 11:01 pm

  2. Awh buddy, obviously dude is not a ‘friend.’ I started college in 88′, seems like we have had similar -let’s call them “adventures”, still in college and am working poor. The hype from the right is just like you mentioned, “welfare queens” what the fuck is that. I’m waiting to hear from medi cal cause I don’t have insurance, am I a leech on the system, or you, no we’re just people that need help. Awesomeness and good luck,

    Heart, Kriss

    btw The decision to get an education as opposed to earning 300 more dollars is the correct decision.

    krissthesexyatheist

    October 7, 2011 at 1:09 pm

    • Oh, I’m confident in my choice, just sad to find people so closed off from any way of looking at life than their own.

      thelittlepecan

      October 12, 2011 at 1:43 pm

  3. I’m not trying to borrow trouble, I’m just speaking from my own personal experiences and what I see around me. To clarify, what I’ve seen isn’t so much out-ant-out fraud as people that have become so reliant on it that they’re unwilling to take the steps to improve themselves to where they can be self-sufficient. And some of the fault, as I pointed out, is the weak economy that’s making it difficult to earn a living wage, and the fact that many government programs don’t allow people to get ahead to where they can get off them. You earn a little more money or work a second job, your benefits get immediately reduced or cut off, resulting in a net gain of zero. Nobody can get ahead that way. This I DO know from personal experience, because my wife, before I was married, was a single mom like yourself struggling to feed the kids and stay ahead, and I was helping her.

    I have to admit I’m a lousy debater, because I tend to speak from the heart and my personal point of view rather than rely on statistics, which can be easily manipulated to mean anything. Also I try to keep things simple, sometimes too simple. That, as well as the inherent confrontation and nastiness factor, is why I’m reluctant to discuss politics, in person or on my blog. I just hoped to add a little something of my own, not that you’d necessarily agree with me, but perhaps you’d see from my angle. I guess I’d rather just agree to disagree.

    The Real Dave

    August 26, 2011 at 10:25 pm

    • I’m sorry. I have to admit, I’m pretty sensitive today. For a number of personal reasons, but one of them was because I was “defriended” over someone assuming things about me and the way assistance works so, I apologize if I came off rude.

      I’ve sort of been defending myself a lot lately, it seems.

      I’m a huge fan of statistics and while their reporting is often misleading, government statistics are usually pretty reliable. They pay statisticians a fair amount to make sure they know exactly where their money is going. It is the government, after all 🙂

      thelittlepecan

      August 26, 2011 at 11:12 pm

    • And thank you, for reading.

      thelittlepecan

      August 26, 2011 at 11:12 pm

  4. Right now my family’s in the same boat. Started a new job three months ago and was so broke the first couple months we had to get food at the local mission while waiting on our SNAP benefits. Things are slowly getting better though, and hopefully this time next year I’ll be making enough to where we won’t need them anymore. I’m also getting Medicaid for our soon-to-be-adopted grandson and not one bit ashamed of that. Until he’s adopted I can’t put him on my insurance at work and kids need to have coverage. Period.

    I consider myself a moderate conservative with some libertarian leanings, which probably would put me at odds with a lot of your beliefs. I do believe there needs to be some sort of safety net for those more unfortunate than others, but of the kind that helps people back on their feet, not keeps them in a cycle of dependency and poverty. Like the old parable goes, it’s good to give a man a fish and feed him for a day, but better to teach him to fish and feed him for a lifetime. I also believe that true charity is given voluntarily because you want to, not because the government mandates you do so because you happen to make more money than other people. Virtually all my conservative-leaning friends subscribe to this philosophy.

    I don’t see, at least from my point of view, an attitude in this country that the poor are undeserving. What I do see is a lot of people getting fed up with those who sponge off of and abuse the system, thinking they are entitled to handouts from the government and don’t have to work or better themselves (this does not include the genuinely disabled), while the rest of us struggle to keep our jobs in a bad economy and pay taxes to support these people. And, like I pointed out before, too many government programs for the poor keep them locked in a cycle of poverty rather than let them get ahead to where they can make it on their own two feet. So there’s this backlash not so much against the poor, but against the abusers of the system and the system that sustains them.

    You have a child to take care of and you are working your hardest to better yourself and him. That’s nothing to be ashamed of. The ones that base their friendship on your income, or even your political leanings, aren’t your friends and never were. Better that they go on their merry way.

    The Real Dave

    August 26, 2011 at 9:00 pm

    • The idea that welfare fraud is rampant is what I’m talking about. People are fed up over something that is NOT a real problem. Tiny, TINY percent. Tiny.

      And if you’re actually interested, I’ve got plenty of sources that back that up. But, usually when that starts no one really cares, they’re just more interested in being pissed off about something they have no idea about.

      Yes, it is about being undeserving. Because I am the “success” story of gov’t assistance. But, I still hear (this isn’t the first time, just the first time from a friend) about how it’s wrong for me to receive it.

      Most people wailing on about PA don’t have the first clue about what it is, what it’s like, what the statistics are, how it works, what the requirements are, etc. Obviously you’ve got some of those covered, but if you think fraud is rampant, then you don’t have the stats part covered and I do.

      Stop borrowing trouble and worry about something that’s ACTUALLY defrauding the American people, like those things I mentioned…CORPORATE welfare, war and subsidies.

      thelittlepecan

      August 26, 2011 at 9:30 pm

  5. I was just looking at the list of “people you may know” that FB always gives you the other day, and I noticed that probably about 15 or so of the people on that list were people that I HAD been friends with on here in the past…which obviously means they deleted me at some point. I really don’t care anymore. I am totally open about everything I do, I am open about how we are losing our house, how Chris is getting sued for a credit card he never owned, etc etc. People need to know this shit happens or people like us will just keep getting blamed for it. I am sure many people who delete me don’t agree with things I post. I’ve gotten in debates about the welfare thing (and other similar subjects) on other peoples’ pages where I ended up pissing pretty much everyone off…I still don’t care. If one person listened and didn’t respond, then I did what I wanted to do. I don’t even get welfare, or any assistance, never have. We don’t qualify because they don’t look at garnishments, they see his whole paycheck as income even though his fucking student loan is taking $500 of it a month…not to mention stealing our taxes when they promised him they wouldn’t. But you know what? I still own my horse, she is my best friend in the world and I would never let her go because of money. And we still go out to eat once in a while, and we still do fun things here and there….and I still turn down jobs that I know would make my life absolutely miserable. Why? Because despite being poor, I am happy this way, and happiness is better than having money. Having everything taken away from me has actually shown me that, and I’m grateful. If we ever do become comfortable again in our finances, or maybe even well-off, I will be much more equipped to use that money in the best way to make us happy instead of just getting stuck in the materialistic rut I was in years ago when I HAD money. I am happier now. If people who are still well-off can’t admit that’s ,possible, that is their own problem, and something they need to learn…probably the hard way. If you can’t attempt to be understanding of someone in a bad situation, then the only way to learn to be sympathetic is to be forced into that situation. Unfortunately, with everything crashing all around us, those people will have a much harder time dealing with it than we will. Be proud of yourself, don’t let people like that get you down 🙂

    Ok, that was like a whole other blog….sorry. LOL

    -Becky

    MetalCowgirl

    August 26, 2011 at 7:17 pm

    • Don’t be sorry! I ❤ you and I appreciate you.

      The note about taking jobs that make you miserable. That's dead on. Last fall, I worked a temp job that I was SO happy to have. I quit after two weeks because I was that unhappy. Jim said he could literally see me wilting every day I went in.

      I won't live that way.

      I just won't.

      thelittlepecan

      August 26, 2011 at 7:26 pm

      • That’s one of the problems…people expect you to live that way. Especially if they have a job they hate! They so want you to suffer just as much. But suffering at a shitty job isn’t part of life, its their choice to keep that job, whether they want to admit that or now. Its built into our society to expect people to suffer to stay alive, its part of the slavery. Truth is, we don’t need money to stay alive. The more people who figure that out, the more fucked the greedy assholes in power will be 🙂

        MetalCowgirl

        August 26, 2011 at 7:58 pm

        • I want very much to move somewhere with my friends, my family, my loved ones…where the jungle meets the beach and where we will be left a lone. I want to live in a society NOT built on nothing but credit. Where what the government does or doesn’t do won’t actively affect my life. Where I can help people who need it

          Where I can be happy and the people I love can be happy.

          thelittlepecan

          August 26, 2011 at 8:20 pm


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