Tag Archives: poverty

1731. It’s still raining

Heidi Windybank had three children to feed and she’d run out of money. She always put the children first. She’d fed them the last crumbs in the cupboard and now she herself was hungry. She had job interview after job interview. It was getting more and more difficult to look presentable at these interviews. It was getting impossible to pay for a bus ticket to the places of interview.

And suddenly! She got a job! It was cleaning rooms in a motel. She knew how to wield a scrubbing brush. She could make a bed to perfection. The problem was she had tried to scrape together some food for the kids and send them off to school, but they would have to do without lunch. The first pay would not be for another two weeks. She was feeling weak and tired. She had to sit down for a bit.

The motel proprietor popped into one of the rooms to check how she was doing. She was sitting on an unmade bed. The motel proprietor dismissed her there and then. He’d had a bad morning; his attempt to purchase another motel had failed, and he was not going to pay riff-raff to do nothing.

Heidi walked home. She was at the end of her tether.

A man and woman called into the house. Teachers had reported that every day her children had eaten no breakfast and were provided with no lunch. The house was cold. They were poorly clothed. She was maltreating her children. The government was taking over. The children would go into foster care.

Do you know her perhaps? She’s that mad woman who walks up and down the main street all day. Everyone says she’s as cuckoo as they come.

That was last winter. Now it’s summer. It’s still raining.

1636. Hard times

Ernst had no real life savings but through care and a little nous he could get by comfortably enough on the weekly pension. His rent was reasonable, although it ate up the larger part of his pension. He could buy groceries, and by careful planning could even get a little something extra on a special occasion. He could pay for his electricity, provided he was careful; for example he always took a cold shower to save on hot water. He had a cell phone which cost him simply a few dollars because he never used it but kept it in case of emergency.

His house had a wood burner, but since he lived near a pine plantation the forest owners were happy enough for him to forage. In fact over the summer he built up quite a collection of firewood in his woodshed. As well as that, Ernst loved to garden, so the house was usually bright with a vase of fresh flowers, to say nothing of the soups and vegetables he could freeze for when the growing season was over.

All in all, Ernst survived reasonably well on the pension.

And then he had a stroke. He made a fairly remarkable recovery, but was limited. No more could he take a cold shower. He couldn’t collect and chop the firewood. It was cold. Nothing that year had been frozen from the garden. He couldn’t afford the few dollars for his phone. The electricity bill grew too big to pay. Then he couldn’t afford the rent. He was evicted but it cost too much to move his belongings. Besides, he had nowhere to go. He tried to sell a few things but with little luck.

Ernst was homeless.

As Mrs. Angela Govind-Higginson, who used to know Ernst and his late wife many years ago, observed, “Mercifully, he’s now dead.”

1520: Something nice to read while having breakfast

Thelma was not well-off; in fact she was practically skint. She had three children and they lived in a little house with a fairly basic rent. Thelma’s husband had been cleaning the spouting when he fell off the ladder and landed on his head. After the funeral, Thelma tried unsuccessfully to find a job. She wasn’t skilled at much. She had very little to go on, just a few savings that were kept in a tin in the cupboard under the kitchen counter. There was enough there for five weeks’ rent and a little food and the telephone and the electricity and some school books and… By being extra careful, and by doing without herself, Thelma managed to stretch things for a week longer than expected.

But the day came… There was no money left. In fact, that was not quite true; there was a two dollar coin in the tin in the cupboard under the kitchen counter. Thelma knew exactly what she would do with it. Before moving out of the house onto the street, Thelma would spend the two dollars on candy for the kids. It was a complete waste, she knew, but it would be an opulent extravagance; a sugar-coated memory; a throw-all-caution-to-the-wind celebration. The children were at school. When they came home she would give them a chocolate each and move onto the street.

On her way out of the house she picked up a letter on the floor that had been delivered through the door earlier that morning. It was from the landlord; did she realize she had missed paying the rent eleven weeks ago? Honestly, it was enough to break the camel’s back. Thelma burst into tears. She dabbed her eyes dry, tried to look reasonably respectable, and headed for the candy shop.

Here, gentle reader, is where you step in. I know you want something nice to happen, and quickly.

Thelma was the one millionth customer to walk through the door at the candy store. She got a great big free bag of candy in all colours, shapes and sizes – more than enough to rot the children’s teeth, if they couldn’t find anywhere to use a toothbrush out on the street.

On the way home Thelma gave the two dollars (and some candy) to a woman begging on the sidewalk. Surprise! Surprise! The woman was part of a “Why-not-make-someone’s day?” television show. For her kindness Thelma won six hundred thousand dollars!

And, dear reader, if you hadn’t had such a kind heart, such a wonderful thing would not have happened to Thelma. Here’s the moral: see how you have already changed the world for good, and you haven’t even finished your morning coffee yet!