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#46 When You Grow Up Poor…

…you don’t know how to save money. You’ll hear teachers, and the news, and “smart people who wear Izod polos” tell you that the reason people are poor is because they don’t know how to manage their money. You’ll believe them for a long time. Then you’ll grow up and stay poor through college. You’ll get married and be super poor and move into a 4-plex that was built two centuries ago. You’ll notice one day while sweeping the floor in the kitchen that instead of sweeping dirt and crumbs into a dust pan you could just sweep it into the gaping crack between the wooden floor and the brick wall. You sweep all that stuff into the black hole in that gap between the floor and the wall and don’t realize that that stuff is going right down into the kitchen of the tenants below you. Anyways, you get it. We were so poor. We ate “fish tacos” every night, which were corn tortillas, ranch dressing, and fish sticks. We were very poor. So you have no money making $9 an hour beating up little kids at a treatment center. You can’t pay bills monthly, so you pay them every other month and just get further and further into the hole every other month. So you decide to enlist help from the holy grail of financial angels, Dave Ramsey. He told us to cash out all our money and use envelopes to keep track of our funds. This was huge for us because we had an epiphany after the first month. We found that we had no money in the envelopes. None. And then it dawned on us: You can’t manage your money when you have no money. It was sad to see, but very freeing. We gave up on budgeting. Budgeting is for rich people. Budgeting is for those people who have money to budget.

I realized that all those Izod pricks were wrong. You’re not poor because you can’t manage your money. You’re poor because you don’t have money.

So when you realize this you’ll never feel bad about spending your Christmas bonus of $250 bucks on a TV ever again. You could put $250 into savings, sure. Then next month you’d get a bill with a late payment penalty on it for two months delinquent charges on your utility bill and your $250 would be gone. Or you could keep paying the minimum payment and then go watch Dr. Who on your brand new Vizio flatscreen. Yeah. I’m getting more mileage out of the TV. The doctor wisks me away to distant universes. What have you ever done for me?

#45 When You Grow Up Poor…

…you wear your older brother’s tighty whiteys when he is old enough to get a job and start buying boxer shorts. Boxer shorts become a lofty goal that you will reach for for years. You walk around at school, constantly and obsessively self-conscious that all of your classmates have X-ray vision and can see straight through your Wal-Mart khaki cargo pants and know that you’re still wearing tighty whiteys! It will take you several months into your 8th grade year to even realize, to your utter mortification and adding serious insult to injury, that you are wearing your brother’s undies wrong. Unlike the rest of the world, you are too poor to put your pants on “one leg at a time”. Wasting your time getting dressed slowly is for the upper middle class. So you step into your brother’s underwear which is too small for you now and just pull ’em right up to their resting place, a little too snugly around your waist. By pulling your undies up this way, your weener and berries end up being pulled up along with your undies and pinned in a bulge between you and said undies. You don’t look at other people’s crotches (at least not yet anyway) and so you don’t know that having a weenerberry bulge in 8th grade is not common. It will take a very embarrassing public humiliation incident to call this to your attention.

When you turn 14 you can get a job and finally have money and do whatever you want with your life. So you get a job at a pizza place. With your first paycheck you make almost $40. You go to Structure at the mall and they have a sale on boxer shorts. You buy two pair and wear one out of the store. You’re free! Literally and metaphorically! You start the practice of sagging your pants because you want people to see that you wear boxers like every other man on earth. Then you realized you are wearing the same two pairs of boxers over and over again and so you stop sagging.

Ultimately, you’ve improved your life drastically in the weenerberry arena. You walk around school confidently, swaying freely in the breeze, kind of sort of hoping that someone would pants you.

#44 When You Grow Up Poor…

… you have a dream of becoming a garbage man. When you grow up and realize that college is a real thing that kids actually go to and its not just a thing that people do on TV, and then you realize that there is no way you’ll ever be going and you missed the boat with a passion, you turn your ambition toward manual labor to support your post-high school self. You decide construction work is a great idea but then quickly realize that you need to know how to build things and you need tools. So you set your sights again, but this time toward your childhood dream. Garbage man. There’s nothing better! You get to wear a jump suit. You get to ride on the back of the truck! You get tan and ripped while you work. And it pays $18 bucks an hour at a time when minimum wage is $5.50 an hour. So you go to the garbage place (the garbage place?) and say “Hello, I’d like to be a garbage man.” And the lady behind the bullet proofed counter looks at you, cocks her eyebrow, takes a drag on her cigarette, and then (and I paraphrase here only slightly) says to you:

“But….you’re white…”

“Yes, ma’am. True. But I think being a garbage man is right up my alley.”


“Well, ma’am. It pays well. You get to ride on the back of the truck. So….”

“Don’t you have school? Or white parents? ….or something?”

“No ma’am. Well, I have parents. I have white parents.”

“So garbage man huh? Well, you aint guaranteed a job. What you gotta do is come in in the morning. You come in at 4am, okay? You come in, and you go right over there by that fence and you wait with….everyone else….. oh boy they’ll like you…. and if they needya, they’ll pick you up.”

“Oh! Okay. Alright good to know, thanks for your help!”

“Oh boy. Welcome honey.”

And then you go home. You think long and hard about what you saw there at the garbage place. You were in fact the only white person there. Everyone looked real mean. You get nervous. You start to second guess yourself. Maybe this isn’t your dream? 4am? In the morning?! Just to ride on the back of a truck all day like a Ninja Turtle?  You set your alarm for 3:30am the next morning and you go to bed early.

When your alarm goes off in the morning you immediately jolt. You smash your Nickelodeon alarm clock until it turns off. 4am? Eff that. She was right. Im white.

#43 When You Grow Up Poor…

… you dream about what you would do if you won the lottery. The daydream carries real weight too. You have to avoid thinking about it because if you start you’ll find yourself, hours later, walking in a strange neighborhood in your fleece Spongebob pajama pants, your gas station Big Gulp Slushie completely empty, wondering how you got there. You tell yourself that if you won the lottery you’d be smart with the money. You’d buy a house. You’d pay your parents mortgage (lets be honest, mortgages) off. You’d send your siblings to school (lets be honest, they wouldn’t go). You’d adopt a butt ton of Mongolian babies. You’d give money to homeless people. Well you’d buy food for homeless people because those idiots would use your money for drugs. You’d start a business. No wait, you’d just put the money in the bank and live off the interest. 1% interest on half a billion dollars is what, like… a hundred million dollars a year most likely. Probably. You’d buy a smallllll house. You don’t need a big house.Thats dumb. Like 3 bedrooms. Well like 4 bedrooms. Well like 8 bedrooms because of the Mongolian babies. And like..a garage. Well like a two car garage. Or like an eight car garage. You’d surprise classrooms at local schools with truck loads of new ipads. You’d pay for EVERYONE to get a new kidney. You’d pay for EVERYONE when you went out to eat. And you would order guac and sour cream EVERYTIME. You’d travel the world. Not not the crappy world, the good stuff. Mongolia for the babies. Paris. Why don’t rich people do these things? Riches are wasted on the wrong people! Why am I not rich. God should be making me rich instead of evil old white men. Half a million dollars a year to be the CEO of a company that is going bankrupt? What the hell? God would make me rich if he could and he would not be sorry. If he wills it, I will win the lottery. Its meant to be. God is going to make me rich. God is good and I will win the lottery. I need to be rich. I have to help the world. Its not about me. Its about the Mongolian babies. And the guac. I will win the lottery one day, I just know it. Where’d my slushie go and where the hell am I?

#42 When You Grow Up Poor…

… you don’t have pets. There are four damn kids in this house. What, do you think dogs don’t eat food? A cat? What the hell are you gonna use a cat for? I’m not cleaning up after that. If you want a pet go catch a frog and keep it in a jar in the back yard. So you try and catch a frog but can’t so you catch a mouse instead. You put it in a jar and put it in the back yard on a beautiful sunny Summer day. You go to feed it a leaf in the evening and end up having an impromptu burial service. A couple days later your mom wants to know where her jar went and so then you have an impromptu exhumation. You bury the thing in an open grave and notice the next day that the neighbors cat is digging it up and playing with it. Man, it would be fun to have a cat.

#41 When You Grow Up Poor…

… you’ll steal your mom’s deodorant when you are in 8th grade because you’ve learned through the most unfortunate of experiences that you have in fact hit puberty like a brick wall and your hard working glands in your armpits that you just learned about in Health class last week have decided to start working overtime, holidays, and weekends. You try everyday to convince your mom to pick you up some Old Spice (I mean if you’re gonna get to wear deodorant, you might as well make it the same one as your cool older brother who is always talking to girls all the time how does he do that?) and she laughs and says you’re too young. You know you’re not too young. Your mom knows it. You’re pretty sure she is lying just to avoid having to buy it when $2 would more sensibly be used to buy a loaf of Texas Toast which would make two nights worth of French Toast. But you don’t want to believe your mom is a liar so you just shrug and resolve to keep sneaking into her bathroom early in the morning before you run out to catch the bus to slather your newly haired pits with thick, chalky, fragrance heavy Ladies’ Secret to ensure that P.E. doesn’t attract  unwanted attention again from the cheerleaders who now think that maybe you live on that farm behind the stadium. Shhhhh, you’ll never know now ladies. That’ll be my little Secret.

#40 When You Grow Up Poor…

…you’ll miss out on Cable TV. Your friends will say “Hey, did you see Pete & Pete yesterday?” And you, embarrassed will say “Well heck yes I did!” not having a clue what they are talking about.

Later in life you’ll be a grown up with a family and a full-time job and some money and your coworkers will say “Hey, remember Pete & Pete?” And you’ll say “Totally! Is that the one with Shia LeBouf? I love Shia Lebouf. As a matter of fact I think he is a genius. Did you see when he recorded himself at a movie theater watching all of his movies in reverse chronological order? I watched it for like 4 hours! Did you see Holes? Remember Holes? Wasn’t he in that movie Necrophelia? Narcolepsy? Nymphomaniac? Don’t you see his dong in that? Have you ever seen Shia LeBouf’s dong? I wonder if he has ever called his dong a transformer? Did you see Shia Lebouf in Transformers? All of them? Did you like them? I thought he was good in those but I don’t like Michael Bay.”

Then your friends will tell you “Shia Lebouf is not in Pete & Pete. You’re thinking of Even Stevens”.

“……. Did you guys ever watch Wishbone on the free channel?”

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