I know that my writing this will likely strike a chord in many of you. Some will do a silent or vocal cheer in agreement; others will scoff and judge. It’s all okay.
I’m writing this for the middle class, the working poor, and the ‘worker bees’ of the world. This is for the people who earn their pay, the people whose budgets never seem to stretch far enough, the people who are honest and serious about their work, and the people who, despite working as hard as they can, might fall behind but choose to keep their nose to the grindstone anyway. This is for you.
My words, however harsh they may seem, are not for those people who seek help when they need it, because those people should be commended. My words are not for the people who get assistance, monetary or otherwise, because their family has experienced a hardship, a break physically or mentally, or a tragedy that has shaken them from their norm. And my words are certainly not for those people who graciously accept the help and use it as a temporary stepping stone to something better.
My words are for the takers, the people who take and take and come back for more, never wondering or caring where it comes from. My words are for the ungrateful, the entitled, and the idle.
Excuse me for not feeling bad that you are poor, because while you might feel like you deserve more than what you’re getting, my husband and I are working hard for the income that barely covers our living expenses. Excuse me for not feeling bad that you can only afford one new video game this month instead of two, because while your priority is your Xbox or PS3, our priority is cutting out the excess, like basic cable, so we can pay our other bills.
Excuse me for not feeling bad that you didn’t get as much financial assistance to go back to school at your leisure, because while you’re contemplating the easiest classes to take to build a résumé or to fill your free time, my income is almost cut in half each month to pay my student loans, which total almost $70,000. Student loans, by the way, which I needed to get to earn the degree; the degree that I needed to land the job that I have (can you see the vicious cycle?). Student loans, by the way, that when I tried multiple times to get the monthly payment lowered, just for a little while, just for a little break to save and not feel so confined by them, each time I was told, “Sorry ma’am, you make too much money.”
Excuse me for not feeling bad that you could only buy a medium-sized flat screen TV with your tax return, because while you’re bumming hard that you didn’t have enough to get the large-sized TV, my husband and I are stressed over paying INTO the state and federal government come April 15th. Excuse me for not feeling bad that you couldn’t get a bigger refund check, because we have paid taxes all year but it isn’t enough and we owe more. Because while you collect for your growing number of dependents, we’ve made the conscious choice not to have children, but instead are paying for yours.
Excuse me for not feeling bad that you can’t get the brand name cereal for your kids because your food stamps wouldn’t stretch that far. Because while you’re stocking your cupboards with food you didn’t pay for, I am eating crackers and an apple for lunch during a week in which my husband and I hit a tight spot and our budget couldn’t quite cover groceries, so I ate what we had in our house. Because while you might think it’s unfair that you can’t get what you want with your EBT card, I view my days eating a ‘light lunch’ as a necessary part of life that will get better the harder I work.
Excuse me for not feeling bad that your healthcare services are not up to your standards. Because while you can frequent the ER or doctor free of charge, my husband and I pay hundreds each month for our healthcare plan. Excuse me for not feeling bad that your dentist pulled your rotting tooth instead of filling it because it’s cheaper, because while you got that service for free or almost free, I cannot afford to have necessary dental work done, because even though I pay for a dental plan myself, it doesn’t cover everything. Because while you can have babies and walk out of the hospital with no bill, I save five dollar bills, to have enough in my pile to cover what my medical and dental plan will not.
Excuse me for not feeling bad that your local church only offers mediocre snack options on food pantry days, because while you’re boxing up free food to bring home, you’re somehow managing to talk to your friends on a smart phone that is newer than mine. Because while you will be sure to get up in time to be first in line when a new phone or video game is released, I’m on my way to work.
Excuse me for not feeling bad that you have to be careful not to have ‘too much’ in your savings account or your services will be cut, because while you’re spending your savings on another new toy so you’ll still receive heating oil assistance, my husband and I aren’t able to keep money in savings because our oil tank needs to be filled, again.
Excuse me for not feeling bad that the local holiday gift program didn’t purchase the right pair of boots for your kid. Because while your children’s Christmas presents get delivered to your house, wrapped and free of charge (there must be a Santa Claus!), my husband and I had to make the painful decision not to purchase Christmas gifts for our own families this year, due to lack of finances. We did, however, purchase a few items for a family in need because despite being working poor, we still find a way to give to others who truly need it and appreciate it.
Excuse me for not feeling bad that your family can’t afford a vacation other than the local beach, because while you’re trying to find something to do with your kids during their summer vacation, I’m trying to find summer work, to earn extra income between school years.
Excuse me for not feeling bad that you wish to get more assistance, because while you’re pocketing or spending money, I’m dishing money out to support the assistance programs from which you receive. Excuse me for not feeling bad if your budget is a little tight, because while your rent/oil/cable/food/healthcare is covered or partially covered, my husband and I cannot afford to pay for anymore of your expenses.
And excuse me for not feeling bad if my words offend you. Because while you collect and hold your hand out for more, the resources are drying up. The worker bees are tired and need a rest. So excuse me, because this needs to be said.