Saturday, December 24, 2005

Something in the air

I saw this piece on NOVA – Dutch show about politics – last night about the working poor. I must admit that I was kind of surprised about how poverty among the working still exists in the Netherlands. I knew some people are still having a hard time financially, but I never thought it’d be like this.

The working poor have to think about every single Euro they spend: they can only afford second-hand clothing (if they can afford to buy clothing at all), their kids can’t play sports, do not get an allowance, some have only one light bulb in their apartment to save money, some don’t even have furniture and it is hard for them to apply for subsidies because they often make just a few Euros too much to be considered for, for example, rent subsidies. And now that the government has implemented a new health care system, they are about to face even harder times.

"The last time I bought a winter coat was eight years ago. A while back someone gave me 50 Euros to buy a new one. I'm warm again." Says a mother of two.

Fucking breaks my heart.

What struck me the most, is that the men and women featured in this documentary were all so very positive. Yes, they’re having a hard time, but they’re not going to whine and bitch about it. They work, pay taxes, pay off debts, give to charity and try to make the best of it.

It just makes you think. While I often complain about how I don’t have enough money to buy 90 Euro pants, they’re struggling to get fucking food on the table every day. It’s unfair and it makes the expensive pants a lot less attractive knowing the money that is spend on those pants, could mean a fucking extra lamp and a hell of a lot more food for the sweet African lady who has only one light bulb in her apartment and sometimes goes a day without eating at all.

I went to the mall with my mother today and bought flowers for my dad and his wife, because the Ex-Boyfriend and I are going to dinner there tomorrow. There’s always this lady standing by the entrance, selling homeless papers. We often say hi to each other and exchange pleasantries. After that we go our separate ways and after a few minutes of wondering about what her story is and how she got to where she is now, the memory of her fades and I continue my everyday life.

Today I gave her my last few Euros. I figured I don’t need it as much as she does. And because of that, she deserved that money a hell of a lot more than I did.

And you know what ? The feeling of knowing that the paper lady is having it a little easier because I stopped thinking soley about my own ass, beats the feeling of buying expensive clothes any day.

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