The Real Poor

The other night when I was leaving a grocery store, I was approached by a woman and a man. The woman told me that they had missed their bus, and the next one wouldn’t come for the next two hours. She said they needed to pick up their daughter. She asked me if I could give them a ride. I was reluctant to say yes, because the place they wanted to go to was on the other side of town. (I’ve also had a couple of bad experiences giving rides to strangers.) I told them that I didn’t have much room in my pick-up truck. They said they didn’t mind. With that, I gave in. Their names were Madge and Eddie. (This is really a guess. I have a terrible memory for names.) Eddie squeezed himself into the dummy seat in the back of the cab, with the spare tire between his legs, and immediately fell asleep. Madge sat next to me. She told me that they lived in a van. The fan belt was broken. They had replaced it once before, but it had broken again, and they didn’t have the money to get another one. She said someone had told her that she could make a fan belt out of nylon stockings, but she was skeptical about this. I told her that this didn’t sound like a good idea to me. She told me that she and Eddie supported themselves by doing odd jobs, mostly yard work. They were both exhausted after a long day. She told me she had to get up early the next morning, because she had to be at a free medical clinic at 5 A.M. in order to have her teeth fixed. The clinic only takes a certain number of patients each day, so she had to be there early to make sure she got a spot. I dropped them off in the parking lot of a Dairy Queen. They never asked me for any money.

These are the real poor here in the U.S. Not the tea baggers who paid $349 a head to hear Sarah Palin spout gibberish at the Tea Party convention. These are people whose voices are never heard, whose very existence is rarely ever acknowledged by the media.

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