Being poor is knowing exactly how much everything costs.
Being poor is hoping the toothache goes away.
Being poor is going to the restroom before you get in the school lunch line so your friends will be ahead of you and won’t hear you say “I get free lunch” when you get to the cashier.
Being poor is people angry at you just for walking around in the mall.
Being poor is not taking the job because you can’t find someone you trust to watch your kids.
Being poor is getting tired of people wanting you to be grateful.
Being poor is knowing you’re being judged.
Follow-up post: “Being Poor,” Ten Years On
Ten years ago today, I put the essay “Being Poor” on Whatever. I wrote the piece, as I explained later, in a rage at the after-events of Hurricane Katrina, when so many people asked, some genuinely and some less so, why many of the poor people didn’t “just leave” when the hurricane smashed into the Gulf Coast and New Orleans flooded.