The life of the working poor

When did going to the mailbox become the worst part of my day? I think it was right around the time the hubby got laid off. Since then he of course has found something through a temp agency. However, the damage is done. Since he wasn’t making very much at the job he lost, that nearly month of not working put us down a hole. When someone who lives paycheck to paycheck loses their job it doesn’t take long to fall into the well of mounting bills. I think 99% of those families that are blue-collar are living paycheck to paycheck just like us. Businesses aren’t paying enough, everything under the sun is raising in cost and no one is buying. Since no one is buying businesses can’t pay employees more. It’s a horrible cycle.

After he lost his job I took my butt down to the dreaded family services. Filled out all the required paperwork and waited. I was told we would be approved for assistance once the paperwork from our landlord was back. After 2 weeks of waiting I called them to check and was told they never received our landlord verification (btw I was on hold for an hour waiting for someone to pick up). Of course, thanks for letting me know since it had been 2 weeks. I’m assuming they lost it because our landlord swears he sent it in. So, got him to send it again and now its been ANOTHER 2 weeks with nothing. Um, hello, food would be great here. This time I called to make sure they received is and was on hold for 45 minutes, wow an improvement. I understand there are tons of people who need assistance and it takes time to get through all the paperwork, but come on..its been a month.

So, its been a month, the bills keep coming in. Each day I drag myself to the mailbox to see which disconnection notice we got that day. I managed to pay our rent, car and insurance for August. Now I’m left with monthly bills. So far I’ve been graced with shut off notices from the electric, gas, phone and tv companies. I expect the water company to send one this coming week. The question becomes how do I pay all those in the next week. Yeah, not gonna happen. Tv will go first obviously, then the phone/internet. Those you can live without for a few weeks. I would pick phone first though if I had a choice because since we are too poor to go anywhere, tv is nice to have so I don’t go cabin fever crazy. So while I see that light at the end of the tunnel, it’s still a long way off. Once the hubby gets hired in at the place he’s at, instead of working through the temp agency, our incoming money should improve. The temp agency is taking money off the top, I’m assuming a good chunk. If family services would get on the ball and get our food assistance out here that would be great too. If only for a month, that’s a month I don’t have to worry about buying food for the kids and I can focus on getting our bills up to date. So many “what if’s”, panic attacks are imminent.

So, I wonder, how many people are with me? How many are struggling day-to-day and are having trouble keeping their heads above water. Because that’s what it’s like, drowning. Not being able to breathe. Being sucked under the water to the impending darkness. It’s an awful, shameful feeling. It’s something you don’t want to tell people, something you don’t want to share. Well, I’m here to tell you what it does to a family. It makes you distant, cold and angry. It eats away at everything else in your life. You never know if it’s happening to your friends, your family or your neighbors until its to late. Until their house is being foreclosed and they are forced to move. No one wants to ask for help. Its taboo, its wrong.

If this is happening to you, speak up! Ask for help! If nothing else, friends and family will listen and cry with you. Scream about how unfair it is and then get back up and back out there. If you have to work midnights, then do it. Figure it out, make it work. Go downtown and get assistance but don’t live off of it. Use it while you need it and then get off of it. It’s there to help for the short-term, not your entire life. Be a productive member of society. I can only believe, that this too shall pass. That there is a reason we are going through this now. I have to at least try to stay positive, because it’s all I have at the moment. One day I will look back on all this and think, “it made me who I am today, a better person, a stronger person”.


  1. I’ve given up cable/internet. I’m able to connect my phone to the computer and get online with a dialup connection, but the past couple months, I’ve had to go without my phone for about a week waiting for the money to pay the bill. I managed to pay my last disconnect from the power company, but in the process managed to overdraw my bank account, which started the chain reaction of od fees. Not pretty. I asked my job to take me off direct deposit this week so that I could pay the water, gas, phone, daycare, and a couple others I can’t think of, but that’s also coming out of my rent money. So Monday I get to call my landlord to tell them that I will pay my rent and the late fee in two weeks, when I get paid again. Meanwhile, B’s child support is still being direct deposited into the overdrawn account, so even though I don’t have access to it, it will eventually get me back to zero there.

    I make too much money to qualify for any assistance other than state insurance for the kids, but I’m so grateful for that. And I had to break down last week and borrow a twenty from my grandmother just to have enough gas to get to work and to feed the cats.

    Do I understand – hell yes.

  2. Nikki, You are absolutely one of my favorite people! This will pass. It will, not nearly fast enough, obviously, cause I think it never should have happened at all, but sadly, I am not in charge of the country. Though, on that note, I think a woman could straighten crap out in a hurry. It’s what we do. Fix stuff men tried to do. OPINION.
    Anyhow, hang in there. **Hugs** & **Prayers**

  3. Julie, its a good thing you branded yourself with your gravatar so I knew who akismet was hehe…I read your blog too. I have no idea if thats on my end or yours. I hope yours bc if its my end your forever going to be akismet lol

    Pav…hugs to you too. I know you feel my pain. We need to stick together…I think we could take over the world if we tried….

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