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#55 When You Grow Up Poor…

… you have no aversion to public transportation. The bus is not a used prophylactic on wheels like most people think. It is a chariot. A fiery steed atop which you are a glistening knight. It is a poor man’s limo. It is a magic carpet and the way to ride is to have exact change in your pockets at all time. After years of riding though you’ll understand that while you are a classy poor person, there are those who ride who easily perpetuate the stigma of a profession poor person bus rider. The huddled masses. The untouchables. The cigarette smelling, groping your very large girlfriend in the back seat while wearing matching wife beaters and skater shoes, always talking loudly about drama happening at the place where you are currently crashing on the couch, tough as nails but not really kind of bus riders. You learn how to tune them out so that you can have a blissful ride on your golden chariot of poverty. Here are the rules for a successful bus ride:

  1. Do not get on a bus without headphones. You might as well sign up to be on the Jerry Springer show if you’re gonna pull some sh*% like that. Head phones are the first line of defense against the wife beater clan talking to you. If you don’t have them on, who’s to stop them from yelling “It’s hot as hell out there today, isn’t it?!” at you from five rows back? Nothing. Thats what. And they’ll yell it. Sixty percent of the time every time. Until you turn around and then your trapped. And they’ll talk to you about NASCAR, or some rapper, or how Jesus is cool with them sleeping around until you or they get off and lets be honest they aren’t getting off. For some effing reason they stay on til the very last stop no matter what.
  2. Do not get on the bus without a book. A book is the perfect object to keep your gaze trained downward. There is nothing worse on a bus than looking up and catching the eye of the homeless crazy man who has been staring at you ever since you got on, and he’s just been waiting, literally drooling out of his mouth, waiting for you to look up so that he can immediately start talking to you about how he read a book once and then his girlfriend slept with a black guy from across the hall and so now he needs $5. Dont ever look up. Ever.
  3. If you end up breaking one of the above rules and accidentally get in a conversation with someone, get off at the next stop. Immediately. No matter where you are. And no matter when the next bus is coming. Because I can guarantee you whatever happens to you is not going to be as miserable as enduring a homeless drunk bus conversation.
  4. Don’t touch anything. Hover. Levitate. Glide. Do not touch anything.
  5. Never fall asleep.
  6. If your driver is nice to you, be nice to them. If you driver could care less, then don’t give a crap.

Thems the rules. If you follow them the bus will turn into a dream tube like in your dreams. It’ll be just like the Magic Schoolbus, but you’ll be Lilly Tomlin and you’ll never have to go inside the body of one of your students ever again.

#54 When You Grow Up Poor…

… you become an adult and realize that everyone grew up singing this nursery song like this: “Jesus wants me for a sunbeam, at home at SCHOOL, at play” which was the right way. Whereas you grew up singing it “Jesus wants me for a sunbeam, at home, at WORK all day” which is, as a matter of fact, the incorrect way…. 

#53 When You Grow Up Poor…

… you never forget where you came from. Like for instance, I just came home from work again. And I will never forget that. I’ll never forget that I spend a third of my life begging for scraps to feed my family who has to fight with the other two thirds of my life (work and sleep) to keep from getting their third reduced to a fourth or an eighth, or a sixteenth, or another even bigger (or smaller?) number. I don’t know those bigger numbers real good because the school I went to only taught us as much numbers as our parents put on the combined income spot on their taxes. 

#52 When You Grow Up Poor…

… you develop weird crushes on unorthodox beauties. And here’s why:

The only access you have to pretty girls is via the torn and tattered porn you found in the woods when you were 8 or anything on TBS. Cable is where the babes are at. And cable is not something that you’ll ever have. But back in the day TBS was an all access channel. And back in the day they played lots of movies with Suzanne Somers in them.

And Suzanne Somers is a mystical siren. That can do things to you with a look that you won’t experience again until you meet and actual real living breathing human girl.

You know who else TBS had? Gillian Anderson. The Scully to my Moulder.

“Hey there Scully, I think I saw an alien under my bed. No wait, in my bed. Can you come check for me?”

You know who else TBS had? Mary Anne. So lonely on that island with Gilligan and the others.

“Excuse me, Mary Anne? If I can get you off that island could I show you my bedroom? I’ll give you a tour. A three hour tour.”

You know who else TBS had? The red haired girl from Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

You know who else TBS had? The blonde mom-like sidekick of Xena Warrior Princess.

One day you’ll see Xena’s sidekick signing autographs at a Comicon in Salt Lake and it’ll feel like you ran into a brick wall. Oh the feelings! The memories! The nights of passion and the days of longing!

Then, just as fast as it hit you, its gone. And you’ll go get a less than average churro from the concession stand.

#51 When You Grow Up Poor…

… the only holidays you recognize are the ones that get you a day off work. If it’s not a day off then by definition it is absolutely not a holiday. Valentine’s day? What is that? What are you talking about when you use those words? St. Patrick’s day is a non paid holiday where you get drunk and pinch people? Sounds like a regular Tuesday. Holidays are also not for “doing things” or for “being together”. They are for watching whatever movie marathon is on TBS without speaking and hopefully without moving except for to pee or get more animal crackers and cereal and not talking to anyone unless it’s to offer them animal crackers or cereal or powdered milk. Here is a glossary of holiday terms for the poor:

  • Thanksgiving – The Wizard of Oz marathon. Pie from the store. More food than usual. All the canned green beans you could need
  • Christmas – A Christmas Story marathon in the morning, Die Hard marathon at night. Pie from the store. Funeral potatoes. Candy and chocolate. Sleep in all the wrapping paper on the floor
  • New Year’s – that old guy’s gonna be on TV tonight for the apple drop in New York. It goes til midnight. Yes you can stay up and watch it. But you have to go to work in the morning still. Okay goodnight
  • Valentine’s Day – a day of the week. I tell you I love you everyday why should today be different? Yes we can get the clearance candy tomorrow
  • St. Patrick’s Day – Your aunt’s throwing a rager on Saturday. 
  • Easter – Christ died for your sins no you cannot have a chocolate bunny! The Greatest Story Ever Told is on TBS. Happy Easter
  • Memorial Day – We don’t have to go in to work today. No, I don’t know why. There is a Clint Eastwood marathon on TBS though
  • Independence Day – turn the g**d**mn TV off its the Fourth of July! We’re going to a parade and then walking around a festival and then having a picnic at the park and then taking a historical tour of the city then watching Saving Private Ryan because you’re spoiled and don’t know what it means to be a real patriot, speaking of which after Saving Private Ryan we’re watching The Patriot because Mel Gibson is an American and then we’re going to the pool and watching fireworks because brave men died for you to have a day off of work and you better never forget it
  • Labor Day – we don’t have to work today. I don’t know why. I don’t know why it’s called Labor Day if we don’t have to work. Stop asking questions, Rush Hour II is on

#50 When You Grow Up Poor…

… you get detention but you can’t go to detention because you have to go to work. Your teacher tells you that your boss will understand and to call in. You tell your teacher that she obviously doesn’t know your boss. Bill is a total basket case. If I called in he would find me. And hurt me. I’ve seen him smash plates over kids head’s for showing up late.

So you don’t show up for detention. The next day your teacher says you have Saturday school. Nope. Sorry teach, can’t do it. I got work. On Saturday? she asks. Yeah, unlike teaching Monday through Friday I have a real job. Washing dishes at the pizza place. That doesn’t go over well.

You go home and tell your parents you have Saturday school. Your dad says you can’t because you have work. He asks what you got it for. You say because you didn’t go to detention because you had work. Good man, he says. Why did you get detention he asks. I left school early last week to cover a shift for Orlando so he could go to his daughter’s soccer game. Good man, says dad.

If I don’t go to Saturday school I’ll be expelled for a week, I explain.

Good man, dad says. You could pick up some day shifts at the pizza place and pay for your own damn soccer cleats for a change.

I love you dad. A whole bunch.

#49 When You Grow Up Poor…

… your friend Ryan gets you an alien figurine from the movie Alien for Valentines Day in 3rd grade. This is obviously infuriating to you for a handful of the following reasons:

  1. What the hell bro! You got me something for Valentines Day?! I didn’t even know what that was when I walked into class this morning. Then our teacher tells us that its for girl and boys to write cute notes to each other and to give chalk candy hearts back and forth. So when everyone notices that you got me an alien figurine they put two and two together – I’m a boy. You’re a boy. Neither of us are girls. You got me an alien figurine – and they begin to immediately make fun of us. This will go on for weeks. “Hows your doll dude? You and Ryan cuddle it at night together … or something?” Ugh. Third grade and I’m already at the bottom of the high school totem pole. I’ll never recover.
  2. What the hell bro! You didn’t say we were doing a gift exchange! Now I have to get you something and my parents both just got 2nd jobs so we could get another hundred AOL minutes on CD-ROM in the mail! What am I supposed to get you!? And how do I give it to you without anyone knowing. I feel like this stupid alien figurine when you push the button on its back and the little alien weenie comes out of the alien mouth. I want to throw up alien weenies.
  3. Dude. What the hell bro! I’ve never even seen Alien! I’m Mormon. I’m not allowed to watch Southpark. I can’t watch Toy Story because Sid is a bad example. I can’t leave the house on Sundays! How the hell am I going to bring home an Alien doll? Thanks for getting me grounded. Some friend.

So here’s what I have to do. You’ve forced my hand. I have to make fun of you to your face in front of everyone at recess. Its just the rules. Then I have to go home and hide the doll until Saturday, when I know that I’m having a bomb ass liquidation sale (thats what I call Lemonade Stands) in the morning. I’m gonna hock some wares next to my lemonade -my sisters homemade  bracelets, apples with faces carved in them, and Alien action figures- and hopefully I can sell the damn thing, turn a profit and use it to buy a different toy from Jeff McDonald down the street (known for his collection of the finest action figures out there).

I work the system and get a sweet deck of Reboot cards. I hand them off to Ryan on the down low in between the buses after school one day as I look over my shoulder to make sure nobody sees. Then I apologize under my breath for making fun of him. He says its cool. It’s cool. Reboot rules.

Happy Valentines Day Ryan.

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