My story is not unique. It may be surprising, but it is not unique. I have a doctorate. I have been employed full-time for 35 years with only a week or so between jobs. I have worked my butt off my entire adult life. I do not have a drinking or gambling problem. And I still live paycheck to paycheck.
This week, America finally turned its attention to the urgent problem of its bridges -- or at least one bridge. As a media storm erupted over a traffic jam on the George Washington Bridge, accountability for our nation's crumbling infrastructure continued to cruise right by. Maybe we could divert some of those lanes of outrage toward the fact that nearly 80,000 American bridges are falling apart. This week also marked the 50th anniversary of the War on Poverty. From 1964 to 1973, the poverty rate fell from 19 to 10 percent. But over the ensuing years, it's climbed to 15 percent, as the War on Poverty has become a War on Poor People. An estimated 6.8 million people could put poverty in their rear view mirror with a proposed increase of the minimum wage to $10.10. But like a "traffic study" on the Jersey side of the George Washington Bridge, our leaders' desire to truly fight a war on poverty seems endlessly stalled.
I'm lost, suffocating in poverty, and I have a disability that is the primary cause of that. My credit is so bad I can't even get a cell phone contract. I work incredibly hard and I am incredibly skilled. But what I can't do is shake hands and make eye contact all day. And because of that I've been homeless more than a few times.
Mine has become a neighborhood of excess and ease while I have sunk into poverty. Here I am, the owner of a shop in the epicenter of the baby universe, and I can't make my rent. I just want people to know how some of us are hiding in plain sight, serving you with a smile while our gut lurches with hunger and anxiety.