Do you know what I hate? I hate feeling vulnerable. It’s not something I accept well and as a matter of fact, my usual reaction to feeling vulnerable is anger. White hot, react-not-think anger. I’m not sure why, or how it got to be that way for me..I’m sure someone with a string of letters after their names would have a field day telling me.
As a single mom living close to the poverty level for many years when the kids were small, I often felt vulnerable. Vulnerable to the whims and whimsies of THOSE WHO HAD AUTHORITY. Be it someone from the Housing Authority (yes, we lived in the ‘hood) coming into our home for an annual inspection, someone from the DHS office calling to say I needed to come in for an review to see if my kids still met the criteria for MaineCare, or having to sit at a table in a school and battle it out with strangers to get Hallee what she needed from a system with an ever decreasing budget for kids like her.
I would spend days feeling exposed, judged, stereotyped and ultimately furious that we had to be in that position in the first place. While I was grateful for the things these services provided, I will never forget the feelings of frustration, dependency and fury, a cycle that lasted for years. The feeling of “Please, Sir, may I have another” meekness rankled to no end. So for years while I struggled to keep our heads above water, I kept my chin up and my mouth shut. And while I worked, had a job, paid my bills, was an excellent mother to my children and paid my taxes, I was seen as less, because I needed help, because of where I lived. There is no shortage of assholes who are very free with their judgement, believe me.
These feelings came swinging back to me today while I was standing in line at Hannaford. Two women in line behind me were obviously acquainted to one another & were talking rather loudly. One says to the other, “I can’t believe how empty it is in here today” and the other replied, “It must not be food stamp day, otherwise everybody from Capehart would be in here. I hate coming in here on those days.”
I didn’t even think about it. After years of listing to that same kind of self-righteous, ignorant, holier-than-thou bullshit I lost it. I turned around and said, quietly, “What a sanctimonious load of shit. Does it hurt to be that small minded?” She sputtered and looked put out..”Excuse me? I wasn’t talking to you.” ”No, but you were talking loudly enough for people in the produce section to hear you. You made sure that everyone around you heard your opinion and now I’m stating mine.” I waited for a response, anything intelligent to back up her judgement on the over 500 families that live in Housing here and of course there was nothing besides the expected favorite rejoinder of the unintelligent, “Whatever”.
I am not rude. I am not disrespectful by anyone’s standards and hate confrontation. But I’m done being quiet and keeping my tongue while idiots spout hurtful garbage. I always wondered what age I’d be when I stopped giving a shit and just started telling it like it is. For those of you who want to know, it’s 44 years and 10 months.