Monday, December 15, 2008

I know how to be poor.....


Had a very interesting conversation while at Target today. We were picking up the much needed meds for Jonathan when I spotted a woman I knew from Micaela's old school. I'll call her "S".

"S" and I never really got along, mainly because it seemed like her daughter went out of her way to make Micaela feel bad that her clothes weren't as fancy. Her daughter even once un-invited Micaela from a playdate when she found out we lived "across Main Street"...

I was STUNNED when this woman came up to me and greeted me as if we were BFF, ya know. She was all huggy and how-are-ya, what you been doing...and I was just speechless. She ended up stalking me around the store, telling me her story. Like I mentioned "S" lives in the nicer section, newer bigger houses...newer bigger everything, in fact. She and her husband both drove BMW's, they vacationed twice each season, blah blah blah....Well, skip to the part where she lost her house. Yikes. All of a sudden, petty differences and playdates don't really matter. I told her, sincerely, how sorry I was to hear how hard things were for her. And she blurts out, "Well, what about you, Suzanne....? I mean it must be REALLY hard on you. Your husband makes next to nothing. I heard Micaela was getting reduced lunches.." (and she sneers "reduced lunches" like it's the freaking plague...)

I just stopped walking... she almost splashed her Caramel Machiato into my back, I'd stopped so suddenly. I turned to her, and calmly said, "No, "S", we're not hurting that bad...because I know how to be poor." And it's true, all the things she'd said. My husband does not make a fortune, but his job is an important one that has more security than many jobs in the civilian community. Not to mention HE LOVES HIS JOB. Also my daughter did get reduced lunches. It's not a crime. We needed help for a while. "S" couldn't believe that I was totally okay saying the "p" word aloud. Poor is not a word some types of women can utter. I told her that she, too, could get by on less. That she could learn to live without the glitz and glamour. To offer some perspective, she's now living in someone else's basement.

She ended up crying that she has no idea HOW to be poor. So in a way, not being wealthy has been a blessing to me. I am prepared if things get worse. Greg and I have a PLAN. We talk frequently about what we would do if gas cost $6.00 a gallon. What all we would give up. What would happen if we lost our house (which we won't). We talk about it, and "S" said she and her husband never talked about it AT ALL.

In the end, she apologized for seeming rude, she says she's just not herself these days. I told her that I would help her. With recipes, tips and techniques. I am even going to teach her how to shop at thrift stores! She looked pale when I mentioned it but she'll come around. For her sake, I hope she does. She has a LONG way to go....she looked in my cart where I had a few packages of dried beans and she said, "What do you do with those?" to which I replied, "cook them...." and she sighed deeply and said, "I know.....but then what do you do?......" She looked confused when I simply said, "Well, we eat them..."

As I left her, Adam was sitting in the cart, singing Christmas carols. We were both singing "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer". And I felt so much better, connecting with my kids, rather than filling my basket with STUFF. It might be a smaller Christmas, but man, am I blessed. We have each other, a warm house, love and health. All of my needs are met and I truly want for nothing. I am blessed.

I intend to share my blessings! How 'bout you?

10 comments:

FXSmom said...

Wow...she didn't know what to do with beans!!!!

Christy said...

Been living poor all my marriage! :) Yet you and I and many others are rich in so many other ways!!!

Like you our Christmas is smaller this year than previous, mostly because they just don't need all that stuff and have too much the way it is! We're doing a major rehaul of their toys this week and I'm going to be an example myself with my junk. We don't need so much "STUFF"!

Funny you mentioned dry beans...I'm making black beans tomorrow in the crockpot and can not wait! Beans and rice with some homemade bread! :)

SB said...

I love Red Beans and Rice, with sausage...and my homemade cornbread....if you have a cast iron skillet, I can share the recipe for THE best cornbread EVAH!

kayokat said...

You are a better person than most! It doesn't sound like "S" has truly hit rock bottom yet, she doesn't sound humbled, AT ALL. Thanks for setting such a good example, and being the better person. (and not scratching her eyes out!)

Barbara said...

Great story. So much to be grateful for. I often think of those pictures of people in the Soviet Union with the nearly-bare shelves in the "grocery store." We don't really have a clue what it means to be poor, do we?

You're a great story-teller, Suzanne.

Anonymous said...

You are right Suzanne. Money does not mean everything. It can make life easier you know, but it can't hug you, say "I love you", or smile at you, laugh with you, or hold your hand. You know as well as I do that there is no substitute for that special moment when your child comes up to you for no reason at all and says, " I love you Mommy!". Have a blessed life Suzanne! You deserve it.

JB

Anonymous said...

Great story... it wasn't what I expected to read when you started. I feel badly that she lost her house, yet she still mentioned reduced lunches???? Thinking about it more, maybe she wanted more info on free lunches because she might be at that point for her kids. By the way, I'm used to living poor-ish, but I don't like beans... never have! I try to put them in recipes for my husband and son, but I still don't really know what to do with them (I didn't know people eat them plain!).

Berry Patch said...

Suzanne - kudos for handling that so well. I'm not sure what I would have done in your shoes. It's very true though. I know many people who don't know my hubby & I very well think we are made of money. Nothing is further from the truth. We just know how to budget & how to do with out....and that's really how it works.

Catherine said...

Suzanne, I think you are RICH not poor because you can get so much out of every opportunity and enjoy it. Your "friend" is poor and always was.

Angie said...

It really sounds like you have the right outlook! It sounds like "S" will have a lot to learn from you.