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Dear Mom,

One thing it seems to me that people in general are particularly deaf about is the statement, "I have no money." In my experience, the only people who truly understand this are other people who have been homeless and the DMH [Department of Mental Health] caseworkers. Maybe some therapists. Mark, the millionaire many times over, also seemed, oddly, to understand. To everyone else, "I have no money" seems to mean "I'm low on money," or "I'm feeling a financial pinch," or "I'm awfully strapped for money." I don't mean that. I mean I HAVE NO MONEY. There is no money in an account I have access to. There is no money in my wallet. There are no bills under my mattress. There is No. Fucking. Money.

It REALLY pissed me off yesterday when the allergist said, "You don't need a prescription for the allergy covers." Uhh, yeah, big deal. I need a prescription to get Medicaid to PAY for them. That's why I told the receptionist, "The only way for me to get the allergy covers is for me to go to Target and steal them." People do this sort of thing all the time. I was talking to the lady who was going to schedule the interview. She started to give me instructions about parking--people do this all the time. I interrupted her and said, "I don't have a car." Oh! she said, slightly taken aback. Because who, in America, doesn't have A CAR?

Adam Lastname used to do exactly the same thing. Bob used to do exactly the same thing. Gabriel just evinced that he does the same thing. Betty? She was so stone deaf about it I ended my friendship over her deafness. Susan and John? I think they live in some sort of hallucinatory world where somehow my once having money, or my once being able to get a job to make money, somehow translates into a present where I do have money. It's the Susan and John causality time-warp.

When I used to borrow money from people, something Adam Lastname was always recommending, and they start asking me all these QUESTIONS, I have to somehow keep from shrieking: "I have no money! Don't you think I THOUGHT of X, and Y, and Z? Don't you think it OCCURRED to me that I might try P, and D, and Q? Short of selling my body on the street corner, which would be awfully hard given my relatively chunky state, I HAVE NO MONEY! I HAVE NO PROSPECT OF GETTING ANY MONEY (until January 1). It's not a prospect of having MORE money, or SOME EXTRA money, or A LITTLE MAD money, or a TIP, or a "MAYBE THIS WILL HELP OUT A LITTLE"--it's the FACT, the present, stark, true, undeniable, incontrovertible FACT, OF HAVING NO MONEY!"

That's why, in order to try to take some advantage of Gabriel's "present," I had to steal coffee filters from Walgreens. I suppose I could have gone to a public bathroom somewhere and taken a whole lot of paper towels and used them for coffee filters. But that is the sort of completely-without-dignity behavior I had to engage in when I was homeless, and I'd rather throw the fucking coffee away then be reduced to doing that.

I am not asking you for money. I have food stamps and will be able to survive. I'm just venting about deafness in general.

 

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Justed wanted to say "Welcome" and to add that I know exactly what you mean and there are others here who will know as well.

 

Although I would not really wish having no money on anyone, I sometimes think that if people would actually experience having NO money (as you expressed it very eloquently) it would make them more understanding.  

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You can justify theft because you don't have the money to spend on an item? Stealing is okay because coffee filters are something that you need? Paper towels work. I've done it myself. I'd certainly do it again rather than stealing. Where would you draw the line? I don't have a car and I want one. Therefore, I'll go to the car dealership because they have plenty and all I really need is one. Stealing is stealing. It doesn't matter if it's $0.10 or $10,000. If it doesn't belong to you and you take it without paying for it, it's theft.

 

I think that being "completely-without-dignity" (which you equate with using paper towels for coffee filters) is vastly better than seeing my picture among the people that were arrested this month. Around here, your picture, name, address, and the charges are out there for everyone to see. If you think Walgreen's won't press charges because it was just coffee filters, think again. 

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You can justify theft because you don't have the money to spend on an item? Stealing is okay because coffee filters are something that you need? Paper towels work. I've done it myself. I'd certainly do it again rather than stealing. Where would you draw the line? I don't have a car and I want one. Therefore, I'll go to the car dealership because they have plenty and all I really need is one. Stealing is stealing. It doesn't matter if it's $0.10 or $10,000. If it doesn't belong to you and you take it without paying for it, it's theft.

 

I think that being "completely-without-dignity" (which you equate with using paper towels for coffee filters) is vastly better than seeing my picture among the people that were arrested this month. Around here, your picture, name, address, and the charges are out there for everyone to see. If you think Walgreen's won't press charges because it was just coffee filters, think again.

^^THIS, ABSOLUTLEY THIS!!

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I just don't drink coffee. But I own a cup with a strainer that I'm told makes really great espresso without any filter at all!

In my country we don't have food stamps, but in this city there are enough free meals for the poor that you can eat 2-3 times daily and do pretty well. I help to run a community food kitchen for that reason.

I also dumpster dive. And I trade or barter for a lot of what I need.

I'm an anarchist (and yes I believe that property is theft) but I still don't steal from stores outright like that. I don't find that the risks are worth it. I'd rather work around the system, than to walk into the traps and punishments that it sets up to catch me.

And lots of people don't own cars in America. Yes many do, but many don't, too. You're not the only car-less one out there. And your numbers are growing. 

 

It seems to me that you're really stressed by your poverty. Do you have any support resources that can help to make it easier? I'm told that 211 can be a wonderful way to get some help. What about a pantry for food, or clothing swaps for clothing? Here you can get extra disability money if you volunteer somewhere. Are there any ways to get engaged with your community that can become ways to barter or skillshare? Can you acquire or borrow a bicycle to help with transportation?

 

Lots of us have been there, or are there. You're not alone.

 

Oh, and I do a lot of those things. And I feel plenty dignified about it, thank you very much!

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You can justify theft because you don't have the money to spend on an item? Stealing is okay because coffee filters are something that you need? Paper towels work. I've done it myself. I'd certainly do it again rather than stealing. Where would you draw the line? I don't have a car and I want one. Therefore, I'll go to the car dealership because they have plenty and all I really need is one. Stealing is stealing. It doesn't matter if it's $0.10 or $10,000. If it doesn't belong to you and you take it without paying for it, it's theft.

 

I think that being "completely-without-dignity" (which you equate with using paper towels for coffee filters) is vastly better than seeing my picture among the people that were arrested this month. Around here, your picture, name, address, and the charges are out there for everyone to see. If you think Walgreen's won't press charges because it was just coffee filters, think again. 

Well, I'm not condoning theft or putting yourself in risk of arrest, but the law does make a difference between petty and grand theft. The difference between a misdemeanor and a felony. 

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WinterRosie has pretty much said what needs to be said. There are many of us here that have been  or presently are in the same boat as you. I would add from personal experience don't lift anything that you would be embarrassed to disclose in the holding cell. "You were arrested for what?"

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  • 2 weeks later...

I understand fully. I was in an argument with the oh and the housemate over rent money as we were 100 short (it happens and I'm paying her back on Saturday). It got very bad to the point where she was treating to kick us out but what pissed me off was her saying I got no money when she bough a pricey bag. I think its resolved noe

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  • 3 weeks later...

Using paper towels instead of stealing the filters is far more dignified. Don't have that problem here, we have instant coffee, and i hate coffee, but if i could not afford tea bags, i would just not drink tea, if  you don't have the money stealing is not an excuse, just don't drink coffee.

 

Perhaps you could use the money you spend using the internet to pay for food etc?

Edited by neptunesky
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Whether you are applying for work or communicating with your clinic, access to the internet is essential these days.. It makes far more sense to pay cash for internet service and use food stamps and food banks for food. (Check for subsidies on internet service in your area.)

 

The OP was justifiably venting about the frustration that comes with living on a very limited fixed income. It should not be seen as as an opportunity to get on one's self righteous high horse.

 

 

Using paper towels instead of stealing the filters is far more dignified. Don't have that problem here, we have instant coffee, and i hate coffee, but if i could not afford tea bags, i would just not drink tea, if  you don't have the money stealing is not an excuse, just don't drink coffee.

 

Perhaps you could use the money you spend using the internet to pay for food etc?

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Thank you, retromancer.

 

The topic drift of this post is very interesting.  Except for the two welcoming replies (thank you, Flameless and jt07) I've heard a lot about how naughty it is to steal.  Well, I'll consider my palm slapped. 

 

It actually did not occur to me to use paper towels. 

 

Being manic-depressive--once, when I was really manic (it was during the summer solstice of '09) I went to a K-Mart with a friend and feeling like Superman, stole, of all things /a bottle of Omega-3 fish-oil capsules./  I really ended up suffering for this one, not because there was any punishment (it would have been not guilty by reason of insanity, if it had ever come to that) but because I happened to be arrested on a Friday afternoon and hand to spend the weekend in lockup enduring caffeine withdrawal and one of the cops was--sociopathically cruel and took my meds, which I had ON me, and dumped them all on the floor right in front of my eyes. 

 

The experience did, however, lead to a book chapter.  So in the end it was a net gain for me. 

 

Did I steal a computer?  A camcorder?  Something edible?  Even something for making something else edible (such as coffee filters)?  No, I stole fish oil.  LOL!

 

Again, though, this post is about the difficulty of being believed and validated.  Right?  It's about being taken at face value when you say "I have no money."  Please allow me to make my legal decisions on my own.

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Oh, man, I just saw this from NeptuneSky and cannot let it pass, even though Retromancer said exactly the right thing:

 

"Perhaps you could use the money you spend using the internet to pay for food etc?"

 

Look, NSky, there is a reason that libraries are crowded with homeless people so often, and it's not because they're playing MMRPGs.  They're on Craigslist, desperately looking for gigs or for ads for some little thing they may be able to sell.  OR they're using the computers to apply for benefits and check on the status of their applications.  OR they're using the internet to find groups to meet with that support their mental illnesses, such as depression support groups (a la the DBSA or NAMI). 

 

I am no longer homeless, but my internet service is one of the last things I would give up.  It provides connection in a life where, for various reasons, I must cope with terrible isolation.  Your comment--that I use the small sum I pay for Internet to instead pay for coffee filters--is just the sort of (a) useless and (b) offensive and © ignorant and (d) moralizing stuff I was originally complaining about.  Instead of taking the position that I'm doing the best that I can--which people in poverty are often doing--it takes the position that I am somehow responsible for my own suffering.  Because it's more comfortable for people to believe that.

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Iam in poverty also, it doesn't justify your stealing, neither does saying "oh it's OK because it was only fish oils", theft is theft. You don't seem sorry about stealing, you seem pleased it gave you inspiration for your book. I'm sorry the police didn't give you your meds and you could file a complaint.

 

I don't think if you are really that poor you can't afford food, you should have luxuries like the internet.

 

I did not say you were responsible for suffering, that is your ASSUMPTION of what i meant.

 

THEFT IS THEFT it doesn't matter about the cost, stealing puts the prices up for other people as this is how

the store makes up for it's loses.

 

I once stole something when ill and got caught, i apologized profusely and was genuinely sorry, you don't

seem sorry at all, you justify your theft as if it's your right to take things.

Edited by neptunesky
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I don't think if you are really that poor you can't afford food, you should have luxuries like the internet.

Wooow, Jesus fucking Christ. Maybe you should take your own advice, I seem to recall you posting a thread about needing a food bank? If poor people don't deserve "luxuries" like the internet, why are you using it?

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