mice on wheels

Ever notice how you learn a new word, then hear it everywhere you go? When you’re pregnant, all you see is pregnant women walking the streets or moms pushing strollers? You’re thinking of going to Paris, and suddenly every newspaper, TV station and poster has something to do with France?

In recent weeks, it seems that poverty, welfare and hunger have permeated my brain. And I keep overhearing snatches of conversations. Yesterday the clock radio went off really early — maybe 5 a.m. From a dead sleep, I heard a man say, “Well, those deadbeats on welfare don’t want to get their hands dirty when they can stay home drinking and smoking cigarettes.” Huh?

At the grocery store the other day I heard both of these comments: “We have more food than we know what to do with,” and “We have nothing to eat at home” (the latter of which seemed unlikely to be true, from a glance at the speaker).

The things people say. The things they think. The way we talk. The way we eat. The things we throw away. The thoughtless statements that fall from our lips. The crumbs we leave, or do not leave, for others.

I could make mincemeat out of all of these statements, and probably will, later. But I post this short blog this morning with the request that you think about your food security today, and then spare a thought — just one — for someone who might not have as much as you, and how you would feel in that position. And how you would feel if you heard opinions stated as facts on the radio that seemed directed at you, when you were struggling.

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2 Replies to “mice on wheels”

  1. Made me think … more than 30 years ago, I was standing in line in a convenience store behind a guy buying a loaf of sourdough bread – the kind you cut in big slabs to go with spaghetti or soup or a well-dressed salad. I was holding someone else’s $5 bill buying someone else’s quart of milk and had absolutely no money of my own. There was no money in any account of mine, no change on the floor of my car – in fact, I had just sold my car to get by – and no money conveniently forgotten in the pocket of any of my jackets. I knew there was nothing because, in an effort to not go to my mom’s house to forage through her food – again – I had thoroughly investigated and plundered all possible sources of hidden funds in my apartment. As the guy in front of me paid, he pulled out a wad of bills and dropped a few $10s on the counter in the process. I looked at the bread and thought how great it would be to be able to buy myself a loaf. I might even eat all of it at once, I thought, then turned my attention to all of the delicious things I could eat with it: lasagna; cheese and a juicy pear; or (OMG, let me have just a taste one day soon) wine! I grew up in a home that could have qualified for food stamps, but my single mother was too proud to accept public assistance, choosing often to just not eat so that she could feed me. Many, many nights, the meal was built around a can of Vienna sausages or a slice of Spam covered with mustard and brown sugar and baked until gooey and hot (one of my favorite guilty pleasures to this day). As a child, my mother protected me from the realities, but, in line behind the sourdough bread guy, I felt confronted for the first time with my inability as an adult to feed myself. I vowed to never forget the moment. Sobering. And worth remembering. Thanks.

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