Another Guardian number stacker

An extract from a new book acomin’:

Why I came out as being poor

How poor is that then?

I stared potential landlords down with a seven-year-old standing next to me and a baby on my hip, asking to apply for a tiny studio apartment I could barely afford……while I simultaneously worked as a maid, juggling 10 clients between going to class to put myself through college. ……

Yes, a single mother of two also going to college says it’s difficult.

Hmm, yes, suppose so. We never are quite told what her actual budget is after Snap, Section 8 (maybe?) EITC, childcare credits, various church help an so on. But I’ll guarantee you it’ll be well into the top 20% of global incomes, yea even adjusting for local prices.

This is rather fun though:

Eventually, I made my way out of poverty.

After I sank deep into debt to get a bachelor’s degree in English, I stubbornly held myself accountable to it. Maybe because I felt obtaining a higher education was a privilege I couldn’t afford, and that the debt affected not only my future, but my daughters’.

This hindsight made me work harder than ever, late into the night, from home and with a baby sleeping on my lap. Gone were the days of cleaning houses. I put my degree to as much work as possible as a freelance writer. Even if it meant filling content for a local events calendar, technically I was getting paid to write words. These gigs gradually grew into ones with paychecks bigger than I’d had in years. I carried myself like a professional, even stood a little taller.

The thought that you need and English degree to do hack* journalism. Sigh.

*Note that this is the English, not American, meaning of “hack.” Competent, able to turn a hand to most types of pieces, putting in copy to length, subject and on time. Not the American meaning of lying for money.

11 thoughts on “Another Guardian number stacker”

  1. “Every Friday afternoon my kindergartener’s backpack was filled with free food for the weekend. The local parent-teacher association always had an in-depth discussion over what to include. I didn’t tell them that I knew, firsthand, that the granola bars were inedible…”

    Ungrateful cow.

  2. Actually I’m not minded to criticise re the granola. This is one of the reasons economists prefer giving cash than giving stuff directly – at least with cash she could buy something she considered edible, whereas if you’re dependent on a food handout you’ve got to put up with any old rubbish. And your source of charity is wasting money/resources by giving you something you’re not going to use anyway.

  3. An unmarried mother of two who has decided not to earn any money finds times hard but can still get a degree.

    And this is a broken society?

    Please, madam, how would you like me to make it better? Then explain why.

  4. I should explain that the “working as a maid for 10 clients” is an obvious lie, falling below even the Graun’s miserable efforts. My grandmother worked as a maid for one “client” and that took up 120 hours a week.

  5. My sympathy for her went sub-zero when her choice of route out of poverty was a degree in English and a job as a journalist

  6. “A few hundred bucks a month” of food stamps.
    I started work on £6 a week – that was $73 in 1960s $s.
    I saved from it – I can’t remember how much but it was enough to significantly enhance my standard of living during my last term at school.
    I could pretend that meant that her food stamps gave her more than enough to maintain a 1960s UK middle-class lifestyle, but that would ignore that it was £6 plus the share of a bedroom in a house near the job – but £6/week was more than a lot of working-class guys earned for a tough full-time job: the next year I was paid £6/week as a computer programmer.

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