#63 When You Grow Up Poor…

… you fall in love with a rat named Pam. (WARNING: This starts out as a funny post and then gets reeaaal serious. Sorry not sorry)

Pam Pam

You don’t understand people’s obsession with pets. They cost money and they’re nasty.

You’ve only every loved one animal in your life and it was a rat named Pam. You rescued her from being fed to a pet snake when she was so new that she still had translucent skin and no hair. You know that rats are smarter than mice. They’re really smart actually. And you sympathize with the little guy. Poor, hairless, and smart, with a world of possibilities if that world would just give you a break.

You rescue the rat, curse at the trench coat wearing psychopath who was laughing as he began lowering this innocent, defenseless newborn rat into his king snake’s cage, and take the rat home to your house.

Your mother is either mortified or pissed. House rule: no animals in the house. Its that simple. But you are now the caretaker of a brand new baby rat. You cannot abandoned her.

You go to the pet store and buy a magazine called RATS. Its about rats. All about rats. You flip through and find an article on something called “nesting”. You learn that its the process of coaxing a newborn animal into thinking that you are its mother. For some reason, you feel that this is a great idea for you. You buy a leather pouch for marbles and hang it on a string. You put the baby tiny little rat in the pouch. Then you wear the pouch around your neck under your shirt for the next two weeks. You feed the rat. You hold the rat whenever you are sitting down. You sleep with the rat in a bowl of straw next to your pillow.

Two weeks later the rat, who is now named Pam, has hair, all white except for some caramel patches here and there, and is growing like crazy. And the nesting has worked. We’ve imprinted on each other like that one wolf guy in those Vampire Werewolf books.

You put her in a shoe box up on your dresser on the other side of your room and go to bed. You wake up in the middle of the night because Pam has gotten out of the shoe box, climbed down the dresser, crawled across the bedroom floor, scaled your bed, and has curled up in the nook between your neck and your jaw on your pillow to sleep.

You cry.

You are in love with a rat now.

Pam now follows you everywhere. You try and keep her out of the bathroom while you shower by stuffing towels under the door. She gets in anyways, climbs the shower curtain, and jumps in the shower with you.

So you buy rat shampoo.

You now shower with a rat.

You can’t stand the thought of leaving her home all day (and neither can your mom) so you bring her to work in her pouch until she gets too big for the pouch. By that time you have moved into an apartment with friends and they also love Pam but don’t want rat poop in the apartment. So you potty train Pam.

You now are in love with a potty trained rat.

Now she can run free through the apartment. You fear you may never see her again. You come home from work every night, grab food, sit on the couch and watch TV. You wonder if Pam has run away. If she finally realized that you are not a mother rat. But every night, without fail, while you watch It’s Always Sunny or Arrested Development, Pam finds her way onto the couch, climbs your shirt, and sits on your shoulder and watches TV with you while you feed her bits of whatever you are eating.

You now watch TV and eat dinner with a well bathed, potty trained rat who you are in love with.

Pam never leaves. Pam is your friend. Pam loves you. You love Pam.

A couple years later (I’m tearing up as I write this), Pam wakes up one morning and she’s not herself. She’s slow to move, she can’t walk in a straight line. She doesn’t eat dinner that night. She takes no interest in TV.

The next day one of her eyes is red and bulging out a bit. Something is wrong.

You take Pam to the vet.

Pam has brain cancer. The doc says her parents and grandparents were probably lab rats and its just what happens to rats these days.

There’s nothing that anyone can do for Pam.

That night you talk to Pam in your bed before you fall asleep and let her know that you will be ending her life tomorrow because you love her. You cry. She doesn’t move and her breath is labored.

You are now talking to a one-in-a-million, never to happen again, very special, beautiful, once-in-a-lifetime rat you love.

The next day you end Pam’s life. You don’t go to work. Its a hard day.

You get over it. Eventually.

Then on her ten year death anniversary Facebook reminds you of her and its a hard day again and you try not to let people see you cry on the train while you write a tribute post to her on your blog.

You still love that damn rat.


#62 When You Grow Up Poor…


… you read Dave Ramsey‘s blog post about 20 Things Broke People Say (That Rich People Do Not Say) and oh my hell! You can’t help but laugh because you realize this list was 100% created by an eternally rich person. And you have some thoughts of your own you feel you need to share with everyone.

So lets review this list of “things that all poor people definitely say (…WINK!)”:

If I earn interest, I have to pay more taxes.

  • This could be true, who knows! I wouldn’t. In order to earn interest you have to have money in the bank.

There’s no shame in being poor, just in dressing poorly.

  • I’ve never talked to another poor person who said there was no shame in being poor. It’s a crying shame. In fact the only reason I’m dressed like a scrub is because I’m too busy shaming myself for being poor to notice how I look.

At my age, it’s too late anyway.

  • This is true. I started saying this when I was 10. It was true then and its true now.

Why save money? You can’t take it with you when you die!

  • You know what you can take with you though? Happiness. And saved money doesn’t buy happiness. Spent money does. Anyone who tells you money doesn’t buy happiness has never ridden a 4-wheeler.

We’re only young once!

  • Only young once…but poor the whole time.

But it’s only zero percent interest!

  • No human on Earth says “only zero percent” anything. That isn’t even grammatically correct. You would say “It’s zero percent interest” or you might say “But it’s no interest!” It doesn’t make any sense to say it’s ONLY zero percent interest. And again, you have to HAVE money to be able to qualify for a credit card. This is a sentence a moderately wealthy person says before they BECOME poor.

I’ll pay it off next month!

  • Nope. Wrong. I never said this. The correct phrase is: “I hope they don’t notice when I don’t pay next month either!” and then you have daydreams about all the files at the collection agency getting burned up in a fire and getting a letter in the mail next month that just says “You dodged a bullet this time but we’ll get you.”

Old cars just aren’t safe.

  • What the Hell????

Whatever you want, dear.

  • Holy. Hell. When you work two jobs you are away from home for 16 hours a day. Your significant other is at home with 4 kids, only two of which are yours (the other two just come and go as they please and you have no idea who they belong to) and she hasn’t taken a shower in 4 days, and is covered in breast milk and poop. You come home and she says “Hey wanna go see Jumanji on Friday?” You gonna say “Umm I don’t think we have the funds in our budget this month dear. That’s $15 dollars that would otherwise be earning interest in our compounded IRA backed David Lee ROTH account!” Trust me. $15 dollars for movie tickets once a month is far more economical than a nasty ass divorce.

I’ll start my budget next month.

  • What budget? Whats a budget? Budgeting when you’re poor is incredibly easy. You are always on a budget. You have more expenses than you do income so the math is easy. “Hey, we’re out of money again.” Welp! Our budget is finished. Easy Peasy.

It’s for the kids.

  • Okay, okay you got me. This one is true. I do this all the time. “Honey we need diapers…for the kids. Oh hey honey, we need some food… for the kids. Oh dang honey, I’m really sorry I know this sucks and we dont have to, but we need a car seat… fir the kids.” So yeah… GUILTY AS CHARGED.

I work hard so I deserve to have it!

  • Poor people don’t talk about “treating themselves” like Rich people do. They just do it.
  • POOR PEOPLE: “I have this ten dollars. I never have ten dollars. This thing is ten dollars. I’ll buy this thing.”
  • RICH PEOPLE: “Oh here is another $1,000 dollars leftover from my paycheck. What shall I ever do? Perhaps I’ll buy a paisley smock. I deserve it because I earned all this leftover money. It’s my …. prerogative. HAhAHahahHAHAHA!”

I’ll just keep paying the minimum payment.

  • …because I have no more money to put toward it…. is the end of that sentence.

My rich grandparents are going to die soon.

  • AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH!!!! Holy hell this one is really good. Poor people don’t have rich grandparents. That’s science. That’s why we’re poor. We daydream about things like rich grandparents, long lost relatives leaving us their Confederate gold in a will, it winning the lottery. It’s not gonna happen. Our family never had anything to pass along to us in the first place. Holy hell.

I want my kids to have it better than I did.

  • This is true. But shouldn’t it be true of ALL people???

It’s cheaper to eat out than eat at home.

  • Here’s how I know that this was so obviously written by a wealthy person. Because wealthy people don’t feed their whole family off of dollar menus for $8 bucks. It is definitely not cheaper to eat out … if you’re eating out at farm-to-table local boutique restaurants every night. But damn you can get a double cheeseburger to split between two of your kids for $1 so…..

Always keep a house payment for tax purposes.

  • There is no way a poor person could have ever said this because I honestly have no idea what this means? How does this work? Is it true? Whats a house payment? What are tax purposes?

I’ll save next year when I’m making more money.

  • This is 100% true. I say this often and so does every other poor person I know.

We’ll pay it off when the tax return comes in.

  • Also 100% true. And I honestly am struggling to see how this is a negative. It makes A LOT of sense.

If everyone followed the Dave Ramsey plan, the economy would fail.

  • What’s a Dave Ramsey plan? Sounds like something for rich people.

#61 When You Grow Up Poor…

… you and your siblings can remember having to shower together way past the age that you would usually not remember that kind of thing. Which was awkward back then. And it’s awkward now.


#60 When You Grow Up Poor…

… you have to go with your mom to clean houses when you stay home sick from school. Which you don’t mind doing. What you don’t like though is that the house your mom cleans belongs to your teacher… who says thank you for the clean toilets the next day when you walk into class…

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#59 When You Grow Up Poor…

… you become a straight pro at spotting cop cars. Why you ask? Well you know what they say. If you have to ask, you probably grew up in a loving home with air conditioning that was set to something other than ‘Fan’ in the Summer.

The truest thing that I ever heard growing up about the American Dream was this:

If you have a lot you can easily get more. If you have some, you can get a little. If you have none, you can get none. What does that have to do with cop cars? Settle down, Mark Cuban we’re getting there.

When you grow up poor you save all your money from the car dealership job that you’ve been riding your BMX bike to day in and day out and you finally have enough for a used Hyundai Accent! You buy it from a Mexican guy who was keeping it in a storage container and he doesn’t speak English.

Cuanto questa you ask? $3,000 American dollars. You pay cash.

You drive away and your life has CHANGED. You are finally free. With this car you can do anything. You can go anywhere. You are rich.

Two months later your transmission blows up and you find out that the dealer put saw dust in the transmission to keep it from slipping for long enough that you when you got a ride back to his shed to beat the shit out of him he was gone. You get the damn transmission fixed and now you’re in debt. The downward spiral begins…

You can’t pay your bills now. You still haven’t gotten the car registered and you keep changing the date on the temp tag in your window with permanent marker hoping no one will notice. Then you get a flat. Shit! You have no money to replace that tire. You thought you were free. But like the Genie in Aladdin you’re finding that while you thought your car gave you power to be the sexiest sorcerer in the universe, it actually is a trick and its nothing more than an “itty bitty living space”. You roll on a spare now. We’ll see how long that lasts.

And this is how you get good at spotting cops. When you put that car in drive and go out on to any public street you are taking on the risk of about $1,500 in potential tickets and fines with your no tags, 3 real tires, lapsed insurance ass. So you start memorizing the shape of all the different cop cars in each county you travel to. You can spot their dark silhouettes from a quarter mile off in the middle of the night. You start to get to know the look of their headlights in your rear view. You know the places they hide and wait. You see them 6 cars back and two lanes over. You follow them to make sure they aren’t following you. You know all the windy roads that you can take to loose a cop in those dense Georgia neighborhoods. You can put cars between you and them on the highway and never let them sneak behind you. You’re a gosh damn fighter pilot in the Gulf. You are Top Gun. You are Tom Cruise.

Then one day you are headed to your second job bussing tables at the steakhouse and Paper Planes by M.I.A. comes on the radio and you take your eyes off of your surroundings for 3 seconds to turn it up and BOOOOOM!

Lights in the rearview. They got you. They give you a warning for the tire, a ticket for the registration and threaten to take you in and impound the car for the insurance. When all is said and done you get to your shift late at the steakhouse and you only make enough tips to put a down payment on one used tire. What a good day.

Its over.

You are no longer free. Between the transmission, the tire, the tickets, and the tools you need for your impending suicide, you are in debt about $2,000, or about a third of what you made last year.

When you are poor it is so much easier to get poorer than to get richer. One mistake and its all over. Next thing you know you’re valeting at a strip club and sleeping on a futon in your friend’s living room trying to figure out if you have the balls to start selling drugs or maybe you can start selling yourself.

You lay uncomfortably (fully clothed mind you. Poor people have this uncanny ability to sleep fully clothed. Its got something to do with our homeless forefathers being homeless on the streets) knowing that your friend is cursing your name for the skidmark you have become in his life and you drift off to sleep remembering the way that the humid evening air felt on your left cheek as you drove your new ride out of that shipping container, the way the wind lifted up your hand just a bit as you airplaned your arm out the driver side window of your brand new very used 1998 Hyundai Accent, driving up Buford highway through Chambodia.

You were free once. You felt it. You know what it felt like. It felt like not being poor.


#58 When You Grow Up Poor…

… health insurance is a good laugh. I mean think about it. You were born with the blood of dainty English fops coursing through your rich veins.


You merely observe the proverbial mud puddle from a distance and avoid it so as not to soil your silk stockings! I was BORN in that puddle like Bane was born in darkness! I grew up in there. In my lonely days bacteria and viruses were my only company! The blood of muddy mountain folk courses though my copper pipes!

So NO, SORRY I did not opt for dental coverage when I landed that job that offered free dental coverage. You can’t trick me! I know dentists and if there’s one thing I know about dentists it’s that dentists will get you one way or the other if you show em your teeth. The teeth they collect are fuel for their nightmares and they feed on the plaque of their victims.

And YES I did go to the dentist for the first time in 12 years soon after I got married because a little piece of my tooth fell off when I decided to floss for the first time in 12 years.

Big whoop!

And YES the dentist was really nice and great I don’t know why I said that mean thing about dentists before. And YES I DID have 9 cavities that had been around for who knows how long and it was going to take a year to fill them and my receding gum line may have needed a surgical graft and that piece of tooth that fell off wasn’t a piece of tooth at all it was a big chunk of hardened calcified plaque and maybe when the pretty dentist stewardess lady started chipping away at all the other calcified chunks on my teeth she gave me the most pitiful look of loathing right before she gagged in her mask for what she called “the first and only time I’ve ever gagged before I’m so sorry I don’t know what happened” and you ask her to give you laughing gas so you don’t have to be present for these kinds of moments anymore.

Mountain blood!

And don’t even get me started on the hospital healthcare coverage!


#57 When You Grow Up Poor…

… you don’t buy new cars. The thought doesn’t even cross your mind. Well that’s just not true the thought crosses your mind all the time actually. Oh what would it be like to have those power windows and power locks everyone keeps talking about? Suppose I’ll never know. How wonderful would it be to have one of those fancy new cars that comes with a CD player? I could finally have a CD player for all my CDs that I’ve been holding on to. Man I’d kill for just once to have the chance to have one of those full sized spares in the back of my brand new car. Just once!

Instead I get my vehicles certified used from a guy named Craig. He’s got a whole list of cars available. Brown ones. Grey ones. Ones with four wheels. Some with less or more than four wheels. You can pay for your car in cash, drugs, canned food, or sometimes you can even trade your other cars for one of these cars. So cheap!

The only trouble is that the guy you bought your ’98 Hyundai Accent from told you the transmission was smooth as butter. What I think he meant to say was that the transmission was busted and so he put saw dust in the transmission fluid reservoir so that the transmission would feel like it wasn’t busted for two months after you bought it and then you find out that there is sawdust in your transmission while you’re going down I-85 at 80mph and your transmission falls out from under your brand new 1998 manual windows, manual locks, am/fm/cassette Hyundai Accent and rolls off the highway onto the shoulder, throwing up sparks all the while.

You pull over (that’s a relative term. You coast to a stop on the side of the road) with one of those “not this again” looks on your face. And you stare at all the shiny Escalades and Beamers driving by with all their white blonde freshly showered drivers who are now rubber necking at your Tuesday misfortunes with that “oh my gosh if I were that guy I’d be late for this hair appointment” look on their faces. And then you just sit there and stare at the cars passing by on the highway some more because you can’t call anyone because it’s 2007 and you don’t have a smart phone, just a pager.