|If only every little thing I did was magic.|
Got out of work and got into my car, headed for the grocery store.
I hate the store. I refuse to get a cart. I always grab a basket and grab stuff as fast as I can, so I can get the hell out of there. Today, the lines were long in the 20 items or less aisle so I headed for the last line, usually no one goes there. I heard his voice before I turned into the checkout.
His name was Jack, he was a pretty friendly kid and started scanning my apples. "Everything is so expensive" he says to me. "Yes I know" was my reply, he continued on "everybody's struggling, everyone's trying to survive." I told him what he said was true and I said "it shouldn't have to be this way." I don't know why, but the way this kid was talking to me, there was just some thing in his voice and I asked him. "how are you surviving?" That's when he told me that he had to give his parents money to pay the electric bill,. that they just couldn't afford it. I asked how that made him feel, he just said it's ok. I said that must have been hard on his parents to take money from him, he said, "I'm just a kid, what am I gonna do with it?"
Maybe go the movie's Jack? Save it for college? Go out for pizza with your friends? That's what he should be doing with it. I could sense the bewilderment in him, that something is very wrong when a kid has to help his parents pay the bills. I didn't ask about his parents, I didn't want to embarrass him or make him uncomfortable. Maybe one of them was unemployed or they're underwater on their house. Maybe they're on disability or someone was sick and they had to buy medicine. I don't know.What I did realize was that this was the magic my horoscope predicted for me, Jack had humbled me and I admired his courage. I told him that his parents must be very proud of him. That he seems like a really good kid and that this shouldn't be happening to him, that I was sorry the economy was this way.
Almost 50 million people are in poverty* in the United States Of America. Unfortunately Jack's story is not unusual.
When I hear this kid talking about things he shouldn't have to worry about, it makes me really angry. If anyone has the illusion that this is still the greatest country in the world, they are not dealing with reality. If there ever was a "recovery" Jack doesn't know about it.
I got my receipt and said good bye to Jack, but I was really pissed off. I am pretty angry about the economy and the state this country is in, but when I see this kind of "trickle down economics" trickling all over this 16 year old kid, it just burned me up. I swore the first thing I would do, when I got home, is tell his story. Because he doesn't have a voice and there are millions of Jacks and Jills out there and it makes me ashamed. When kids have to deal with financial hardship so that banks can stay too big to fail and billionaire's offshore accounts go untaxed and uncounted, it's just unfair. I don't know what my horoscope is for tomorrow, but I do know this. If a 16 year old kid can see that something's wrong and I can connect with him and give him some support, even if it's just words. Then I think more and more of us can do this. Then maybe we can come together and demand that our government be accountable, perhaps we can get some economic justice for Jack. Because his High School years should be magical. Every kids should.
*U.S. Poverty: Census Finds 46.2 Million Impoverished As Median Income Drops