Don’t you just hate it when poor people wear nice stuff?

Picture this: an overweight woman standing in line in front of you at the grocery store checkout. When she gets to the cashier, she pulls out an EBT card from her $750 dollar Coach bag.

Burns you up doesn’t it?

Or how about a guy wearing a Ralph Lauren purple label shirt that is usually $250 dollars at Macy’s and you’re wearing a Wal-Mart button down in line behind him. He too pulls out an EBT card , this time at a convenient store, and buys a Pepsi.

Does that drive you crazy?

The first thing you think about is how hard it is for you to make a living and keep a roof over your head. Then you think that if it wasn’t for your tax payer dollars going to support these lowlifes you’d be able to buy nice things too.

But, looks can be deceiving.

Case #1:

The woman at the grocery story with the Coach bag is named Gloria. She works as a home health aide 24 hours a week. She’s tried to get a job with the local hospital for over a year and so far, no luck.

She’s got three kids and a husband trying to get disability because he can’t work after falling off a ladder cleaning gutters. He’s a roofer by trade and his back can’t take the punishment anymore. Gloria says he’s constantly in pain and sleeps maybe four hours a night because the pain wakes him up.

They’re on Medicaid because she has no insurance at work. The home care company doesn’t have full time employees.

Last month, when one of Gloria’s clients went to the hospital, her company didn’t have another client for her to take. Her hours were cut back to 20 a week for almost three weeks.

Food was hard to afford as her SNAP didn’t go up for that time period. She went to the food bank.

Oh, and that Coach bag–she got it at Goodwill and paid $25 dollars from last year’s tax refund check.

As it turns out, it was the only thing she bought herself with the extra money because the rest went to catch up bills. The refund check was a lot smaller than it had been in the past few years.

Case #2:

The guy at the convenient store is named Jerome. He works part time at a call center and he’s trying to get on full time. He says it’s hard to get on full time because the quotas are so high.

He worked at a manufacturing plant in western North Carolina up until a year ago. His was one of the last companies of that type to go out of business in the area. His unemployment ran out almost nine months ago. He was retrained for another career for free at a local community college. But, those jobs never materialized.

The plan was a company was going to build an extension onto the plant and hire another 150 people. That, so far, hasn’t happened.

He has a wife, who works minimum wage at a fast food store and a child in the second grade who gets free lunch.

Oh, and that $250 dollar Ralph Lauren shirt was bought from a thrift store in Chapel Hill. He paid $15 dollars for it along with some school close for his little girl. He’s got two shirts just like it as they both hung on a rack in the same place. He wears them both all week, alternating from one day to the next.

There are several morals to these two stories. And, there are many more real people who share the same, if not worse, hardships in North Carolina.

Despite what the politicians would have you think – North Carolina is not doing as well as you think and people judge by appearances. And, often misjudge.


About George Fisher

George is a freelance writer, an author and a Democratic political consultant. He has worked as Deputy Communications Director for a Senatorial campaign and Campaign Manager for several NC House races and one congressional race. He previously worked as a news producer for a local television station.
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