Stop Poor-shaming, we don’t need your help to feel ashamed!

If you haven’t heard, a Utah school district recently decided that it would be a good idea to just dump lunches of kids with backed up accounts.

Let’s keep in mind that these are elementary school kids. These kids don’t understand and can’t control the situation in any way. All they  know is someone gave them food, then took it away and threw it in the trash instead of letting them eat it.

Meaning that Utah decided that it would rather see food go in the garbage than see it go to a hungry child.

Yes, I understand that backed up accounts are important, but these are children and the ones making policy are adults. Why didn’t the school, instead, send discreet letters to the teachers citing the children who wouldn’t be getting a regular lunch? Or move the register so that the children knew what was going to happen ahead of time? There were hundreds of solutions that they could have chosen but didn’t.

The one they chose was the one designed to cause the most pain, shame, and embarrassment to the child and their family. They chose the one that would cause the most damage.

Why?

Because poor-shaming is just fine. After all, they need to be taught a lesson.

Poor people are just lazy and should be ashamed of themselves.

This used to be the reason for being poor, a lack of drive, industry, and sobriety. Of course, back then, you could still feed and provide for a family with a low wage job. You wouldn’t be comfortable, you’d still struggle, but you could do it if you were careful.

You can’t do that now.

It’s not because people who make low wages are lazy; but we are still conditioned to think that way.

I watched my mother struggle throughout my whole life. She would work two and sometimes three jobs at a time just to try to make ends meet. Sometimes we could get food stamps, sometimes we couldn’t and just went hungry. We never had a car that ran right. We never lived in a decent neighborhood. And even her own family called her lazy for it.

Did I mention the 2-3 jobs? How in the hell is that lazy?

You see, my parents started out doing all of those things that society told them “responsible” people are supposed to do. They got married after they found out about my pending arrival. My dad tried to go to medical school, but had to get a job as a cabinet maker instead because it actually paid a wage and school didn’t. My mom worked full time and so did my dad. They bought a house. They were trying to do all of the things they were told to do.

But, although my parents liked each other, they didn’t get along well. To be completely honest, it was as much their own fault as it was the anxiety of continued social pressure. They eventually became resentful and abusive towards each other…but my mother’s family still would not condone a divorce.

So they stayed married. Three children and seven agonizing years later, they finally divorced…and her family basically shunned her for it.

Sure, we lived with my grandmother in her house. But it was made clear that the problems were all my mother’s fault and the result was her own punishment for not listening.

For being lazy.

My parents aren’t lazy. My parents worked. They worked hard. But we were still poor.

My dad, in a construction/labor based job, got fairly regular raises. He made decent money, but he still struggled. He always paid some kind of child support; even if it was just a few dollars.

But my mom ended up in pretty bad shape.

You see, my mom is a cashier. Everyone thinks this is a stupid job that anyone can do. It’s a job that takes no skills to be able to learn.

This is correct….except for the part where you do the job well.

Yes, being a cashier is essentially just scan and bag. We have machines that can pretty much do this for us. I hate those machines and refuse to use them.

But being a good cashier is a completely different thing.

Being a good cashier means keeping a smile on your face while being abused by customers.

A good cashier remembers to smile and greet their customers no matter how bad the situation, or their personal lives, get.

Being a good cashier means standing in one place for about 6-10 hours at a time. No bathroom breaks unless someone can cover you, or you get a break.

Can you do that?

I’ve seen cashiers piss themselves waiting to be “allowed” to go to the bathroom.

Hell, I’ve even done it myself. When I was 16 I worked at WalMart as a cashier. I had no idea at the time that I had a pretty fierce kidney infection going. I asked my CSM (customer service manager) if I could use the bathroom real quick. The bathroom was maybe 100 feet from where my register was. She said I should have gone before my shift started (which I had). For ten minutes, I begged, pleaded, and nearly cried to be allowed to pee.

I’m fairly proud of myself. I managed not to cry or even break my scanning stride as my infection weakened system finally gave up.

I finished ringing up my line standing in my own piss.

When I quietly told my CSM—the same one who wouldn’t give me a few minutes to go pee—she looked at me like I was the one with the problem.

Oh, and they didn’t going to let me go home and change either.

I had to finish my shift.

Covered in piss.

I wish I had known then that I had a huge lawsuit in that.

(And you know what, this is exactly why I can’t stand to see a mopey cashier. If I can stand in my own piss and still have a smile on my face, not getting to hang out with your friends because you have to work is not a sufficient reason for shoddy customer service.)

At WalMart, just a few years ago, my 13 year old son called the store to tell me the house had caught fire…they wouldn’t let the call through, I was on the register and couldn’t take any calls. He ended up calling my husband, who let the woman answering the phones have it.

I’ve had customers reach over the counter and grab my breasts.

I’ve had them molest me when I’m out in the store.

I’ve been caught by my car as I’m leaving and assaulted for not allowing someone to use an expired coupon.

I’ve had hot coffee thrown in my face as a “joke”.

I’ve had guns and knives pointed in my face.

I’ve had customers try to force me into their car.

I’ve had drunk customers throw cases of bottled beer at my head for not selling to them.

When I told one of my managers that I was being constantly sexually assaulted by some of the regular customers she wrote me up for “excessive flirting” since they were friends of the assistant manager. She continued to write me up for that every time I tried to have something done about it.

I was told that I deserved what I was getting…by everyone around me.

I was told: If the job is that bad then just get another one…by someone who thought I deserved it for being “just a cashier” instead of doing something else.

I was told: If you don’t stop bitching, I’m gonna have some “niggers” come in here and rape your sorry ass…by my assistant manager.

This is just the stuff that happened to me, and I’ve only been in the business for 20 years. Imagine what the women who’ve stuck it out for 40 or 50 have gone through.

To give you an idea…my mother cried when I told her I had gotten a job as a cashier.

Easy job right?

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About pynomrah

I like stuff, and things.
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2 Responses to Stop Poor-shaming, we don’t need your help to feel ashamed!

  1. gyoung03 says:

    This made me so mad, sad and frustrated with society. Having grown up poor I agree that we need to stop the shaming.

    Like

  2. Pingback: I didn’t drive anything anywhere…I’ve always had SNAP. | Somewhere in the Middle of Everything

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