1. Welcome to SportsJournalists.com, a friendly forum for discussing all things sports and journalism.

    Your voice is missing! You will need to register for a free account to get access to the following site features:
    • Reply to discussions and create your own threads.
    • Access to private conversations with other members.
    • Fewer ads.

    We hope to see you as a part of our community soon!

Help me -- I'm incredibly jaded now.

Discussion in 'Anything goes' started by Freelance Hack, Nov 29, 2006.

  1. Freelance Hack

    Freelance Hack Active Member

    OK -- yesterday I went out to do a photo shoot for someone our organization helped. The woman and her two children are going to be featured in future promotional/fund raising materials. We needed a photo and I needed more information to make the story complete.

    A little background first -- the woman is in her early 20s, came out of an abusive relationship, had to re-learn how to drive (the ex refused to let her drive/renew her license) and had no financial literacy. In less than a year, she got out of the relationship, into a shelter and is turning her life around. She's in a transitional apartment, which she furnished, and is working on buying a house.

    So, cut to yesterday, a co-worker and I go to the apartment, which is maybe 700 square feet. The woman welcomes us and lets us in and as I enter the living I nearly trip over the 60" HDTV that takes up half her living room.

    The rest of her apartment is Spartan. The kids have few toys and clothes and the kitchen was pretty bare. I wanted to feel inspired by this woman and her courage, but all I could think about was the fact this woman got a $3,000 tax refund and used most/part of it to buy a luxury. And this was the person we were putting on a pedestal for financial literacy and asset building.

    Am I wrong to think this way? I realize there are thousands of people helped out there that truly need the assistance, but there are others out there that miss out on these services while people like this young woman squander her opportunities.

    I really don't like thinking this way -- especially during the holidays, but I can't help myself.
  2. Mystery_Meat

    Mystery_Meat Guest

    It's a legitimate concern. Sure, it's her money and she can do with it what she wishes, but making her out to be some sort of poster child for fiscal resposibility IF she buys a TV at apparently the expense of the rest of her apartment.

    Reason for IF in all caps: She definitely bought it, right? Not a giveaway or perhaps some sort or payoff from the boyfriend's family or something like that?
  3. Ace

    Ace Well-Known Member

    Maybe she just uses it to watch financial shows, Freelance. Back off.

    Reminds me of a friend who became a lawyer at a largish firm, and his primary job for several years was writing threatening letters to people who owed money and then working to get the money or items back.

    I once said to him, "Don't you feel bad taking the refrigerator away from some little old lady who can't pay her rent?"

    He said, "Screw 'em. It's not refrigerators or ovens. They're buying big screen TVs and expensive stereo systems. I don't feel bad at all."

    --- Oh, and in the woman's defense, maybe she stole it. Which from a fiscal responsibility standpoint would still work.
  4. Mystery_Meat

    Mystery_Meat Guest

    Which I was going to bring up as a possibility, but I didn't want anyone to yell at me for hating women or something. She must have good leg muscles.
  5. leo1

    leo1 Active Member

    it's not polite to talk about but this is reality. why do you see so many nice cars in the 'hood? sure, plenty are being bought with drug money but just as many people sink everything into their car or other luxury items instead of providing a better life for their family.
  6. 21

    21 Well-Known Member

    I think it's a slippery slope to analyze the values of people who have endured a life most of us can't imagine.

    I understand where you're coming from, Freelance...I've spent years deeply involved with homeless kids and mothers....it's bizarre to see kids in a shelter with PSPs. But learning financial literacy is as difficult for them as learning to speak Russian would be for you and me. It's foreign and hard and they make a lot of mistakes. They come from a background and culture that offered them no role models; the fact that this woman is in your program shows she doesn't want to repeat the past. Hopefully, she has people around her to watch and teach and guide her.
  7. Mystery_Meat

    Mystery_Meat Guest

    I understand the point about analyzing values, but I think you can make a call on a point in which she reveals herself not entirely consistent with her stated beliefs. Put another way: if she was there to be in a promotion for some pro-abstinence until marriage group, and the first thing you notice when you walk into her apartment is a dildo on her coffee table, you're going to wonder if she's the right person to champion the cause, y'know?

    Plus, it's fun to type the word "dildo." Dildo.
  8. Ace

    Ace Well-Known Member

    I would think a dildo would be perfectly in keeping with a pro-abstinence stand. Actually.

    Perhaps a package of birth control pills would make a better argument. But I agree they are not nearly as fun to write. Birth control pills.
  9. 21

    21 Well-Known Member

    Actually, if she had a dildo, I would think she had found a pretty good way to relieve the stress of pro-abstinence.

    (damn, i see Ace has been here already.)
  10. Sly

    Sly Active Member

    This topic reminds me of one of my favorite all-time stories in The OnionL

    "As You Can See From My Clothing, I Am Not Poor"


    Just because I happen to live with my four brothers and sisters in my mom's two-bedroom South Side apartment, work at Taco Bell, and don't have a car, some ignorant types assume that I don't have much money. But, as you can clearly see from my $220 Fubu jacket and $95 Tommy Hilfiger sweatshirt, I could not possibly be poor.
  11. The Big Ragu

    The Big Ragu Moderator Staff Member

    I had a very similar experience a few years ago with a kid I did volunteer work with. I had to go by the kid's apartment. We normally only saw these kids at their school, which is in a crappy neighborhood. This kid was living like a roach, but there was a kick-ass TV set in the apartment. And I had the same response you did.

    I ended up talking to a lot of kids and teachers at the school (just subtly feeling things out, because it bothered me), and I figured out that it is symptomatic of poverty in the United States for the last 30 years, at least. There is a segment of the population that is poor, but they are constantly bombarded with the message that the American dream is to own the big-screen TV or the gaming system or the nice rims or the designer clothes. And that becomes the end game. Instead of it being, "I am going to climb the ladder," a kind of hopelessness has set in and they settle for a trapping or two of wealth, which is much easier. A big TV set says, "You've made it!".

    My grandmother on my mom's side came over to the U.S. as an immigrant in the 1910s. She was 15 and came here alone. She left her whole family behind. Didn't speak a word of English. Her husband died when my mom was 7, so my grandmother, who was uneducated, raised two kids alone working in sweatshops. Both of her kids went to college and onto more affluent lives. That was the end game for them.

    Something my uncle once said about his upbringing stuck with me. He said, "When your mom and I were kids, we were poor. But we didn't know we were poor."

    I think that sort of crystallizes what has changed. It's subtle, but it's a fundamental shift in values (attributable to many factors). I do think it is a credit to my grandmother, but it's more than that. They were living in a more closed environment, at a time when people's worlds often didn't extend much farther than their neighborhoods. They weren't being hit with 1,000 messages a day selling the big-screen TV as the American dream. Their neighbors didn't have toys either, so there wasn't an envy syndrome. They knew there was a more affluent life out there, but if there was food on the table, it was a good day, and they didn't think of themselves as poor.

    As a result, they were better able to focus on a purer version of the American dream: get an education, climb the ladder, etc. In some ways, it's the difference between hopelessness and hope.
  12. Ace

    Ace Well-Known Member

    The Stress of Pro-Abstinence would be a great name for a Christian rock band, though.

    You in, 21?
Draft saved Draft deleted

Share This Page