Catching up on FB this morning, I came across something that a couple of friends had “liked”. It’s an e-card, with a simple pen-and-ink illustration of a young woman, casually dressed in what I’d call LL Bean or Land’s End style.  She’s at a supermarket checkout stand and is holding one of those hand baskets.  And the caption?  Well, I won’t quote it word for word, but the gist of it is, “I wish I could afford a new iPhone — like that girl ahead of me with the food stamps.”

This has nearly 16,000 comments on the original poster’s page.  I glanced at the last page or so of them, and the majority are in the general category of “LOL THIS IS SO TRUE I HATE THIS!”  In other words, living proof, if any was needed, that people still buy into the whole “welfare queen” myth.

This, somewhat edited for publication (so to speak), is what I wrote to my friend in response:

Hi, [NAME]–

Still not quite sure I should write this but…that illustration you and [OTHER NAME] liked? The one about the food stamp recipient with an iPhone?

People on assistance know there are those who abuse the system. Always have been, always will be, because any system a human comes up with, another human can “hack”. But we aren’t all like that, and “funny” things like this don’t actually help those of us who have to fight the negative stereotypes. For what it’s worth, I have a fairly new Android — because I got it to replace my land line and DSL when I lost the house.

If I’d known then I was about to lose my unemployment, too, that a couple of months later I was going to have to swallow my pride and apply for assistance, I’d have made a different choice.  Not that it would have my need to apply for assistance, but it would have been cheaper.  And I still need a phone — how can I get called about interviews or jobs without one?  Set up a “message box” at the social services office?  Can be done, but how do I check my messages?

It hurts to know there are people out there who would call me a deadbeat and a leech just because right now, I’m down on my luck. I paid into the system for years, and now I’m getting a little — a very little — back, and I really truly hope to be back on the paying-into side in the near future. I know you wouldn’t think those negative things about me, because you know me. But do you honestly think most others in this situation deserve it for some reason?

There are more people out there like me than most folks know. Things like this cartoon let them paint all of us with the same brush…the one that’s covered with tar and comes with a bucket of feathers.


EDITED September 1, 2012 to add:

I should have done this ages ago, but I guess it’s better late than never.  The friend to whom I wrote the above note replied either later that day or the next day, saying that upon due consideration…maybe that card wasn’t so funny after all.  That FB and its ilk have made it all too easy to “like” something without thinking about it, without giving it the due consideration (heh) it might deserve and that might change an initial “like” to a “hey, wait a minute…”  That it was easy to forget, until a good look at the bank account, how little it would take to wind up wearing my shoes.  And then tossed in a self-deprecating comment about being an asshat.

I wrote back that I appreciated my friend’s willingness to think about it some more.  And also to stop calling my friends asshats.  🙂


4 thoughts on “Funny

  1. Esther, you do know some amazing writers, and you are one as well. This is such a sad commentary, so many people still hurting. Glad that she spoke up, takes courage and skill–both of which she has in abundance

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