Somewhere between abject poverty and those who can afford to go out to dinner (or lunch, or breakfast), there's an invisible little segment of society called, We Who Are Very Broke.
We're invisible because we are not living on the streets, flaunting our lack of funds. We go unseen because we do not ask the government for the assistance we desperately need, simply because every time we've ever tried, we've been rejected due to the fact that we are that teensy bit more financially stable than what is considered below the poverty line.
We are those who do not go to doctors because not only can we not afford health insurance, we cannot afford the cost of a visit. We are very much the ignored demographic that stresses night and day over how we are going to get through the month, and if we are lucky enough to be employed, we live in knee-jerk fear that at any moment we might lose the jobs we have.
We live from paycheck to paycheck, without any savings whatsoever, and yet because we somehow manage to float without letting ourselves get thrown on the street, we are treated in the same way as Those Who Are Stable. We're not stable. We're dying. We're tearing our hair out wondering how we're going to make it to old age, and at the same time we're chewing our nails off imagining what it will be like to be 80 years old and still hoping we don't lose our jobs.
We're the Ugly Invisibles who give whatever we have to our children and leave nothing for ourselves. We don't go out to eat, we don't take ourselves to movies and we don't have drinks with friends because we cannot afford to socialize. What we have goes to rent. What we have goes to paying off our debts.
Because we're not on government support, we are perceived as perfectly fine, in great financial shape. Because we're too proud to kvetch and moan, we live on the outskirts of society. We're not here nor there; we arouse no sympathy nor do we want any. We only want to know that next month we won't be homeless.
Are we lazy slobs that sulk in self-pity? Not by a long shot. In fact, we're die-hard workers who live just to survive. And survive we do, somehow. Are we human beings who had a few bad breaks and ended up as older human beings with even less good breaks? Yes.
We, who experience the reality of hard times could just as easily live like kings. The good life is not a foreign concept to us, as many of us have been there and done that. But the "been there" part is exactly that: the past. What we have now is hardship. And it doesn't ever end until we win the lottery.
And for that, we have to put aside money to buy a ticket. Well, maybe next month. If we can keep our jobs. If our kids don't need much between now and then. If an emergency situation doesn't arise. If the cost of a ticket doesn't go up. If we can keep our jobs.
If we can keep our jobs.