Saturday, September 26, 2009

Recycling Day

It was a very fun moment when I realized I was poor. It was not after I filed for unemployment. It was not after realizing my job is probably going to make me about $300/ month, at most. It was not after I barely had four dollars to get to class causing me to borrow money. It wasn’t even after a complete stranger randomly (I was working on my laptop, minding my own business) offered me half of her roast beef sandwich and I actually accepted it. It happened one faithful day after work...
It was a beautiful, cloudless Sunday evening. I was walking home with a full belly as I was thanking God that my job not only feeds me but feeds me healthy things (a certain unnamed Egyptian man who refers to me as his “African sister” peer pressures me to eat and lives through me during Ramadan). I took off my shoes because, as of late, my feet have been in a lot of pain. As I felt the cool, relieving sidewalk through my wool fishnet stockings, I thought of all the things I needed to do the next morning: go to class, collect my tips, wash my clothes, go to the dollar store, get some hangers and ramen.
As I mentally prepared for the next day, I noticed recyclables neatly packed in piles in front of an apartment building. I’ve passed this place a few times but never gave it a second thought. That night seemed to be a different story. That night, a shiny piece of metal grabbed my eye. A perfectly good magazine rack was JUST LYING on top of the garbage. I thought to myself, “who would throw away such a wonderful furnishing?” I was tempted to grab it but these past few weeks have taught me to focus on the basics, not to mention my pride was at the forefront of my mind. I passed such a tempting offer.
Next, I passed a certain clothing store and sitting on top of the garbage were hangers. For some reason, I had been procrastinating when it came to buying more hangers. In an act of serendipity, an abundance of perfectly good, white wire hangers were sitting in front of me, calling my name. Of course, my pride reared its ugly head:
“Seriously, are you going to take hangers out of the garbage?”
During the day, my pride would have won. The last thing I wanted was this town to see an African-American girl digging in the garbage. At midnight, I didn't mind so much. I grabbed the hangers and made my way home. On the way I spotted a perfectly good dish rack. I was tempted, yet again, but I passed up such a tempting offer. As I walked home smiling with my heels in one hand and hangers in the other, I came to a sudden halt as it all smacked me in the head: I make next to nothing, I’m on unemployment and recycling day has officially become my favorite day of the week. I’m flipping poor.
As I reflected on the situation, all I could do was smile at I thought: Who cares? I have free hangers.


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