Due to present circumstances I’ve gotten myself into, I’ve had more time for introspection than I’d like. Yes, I could take up knitting. Yes, I could run some bullshit marathon. However, I’ve made a conscientious decision to waste my own time worrying about possible future situations because I must really enjoy it. Being a young person still trying to make my way in the world, money is pretty highly ranked on the list of worries. One of the reasons I’m not completely panicked into answering foot fetish ads on Craigslist is because this is not my financial rock bottom. I’ve already been the lowest I ever, ever plan on getting. Unfortunately, it involves sardines, creamed corn, and a gas station attendant.
Once upon a time, in a small town called Arlington, I was an eighteen-year-old trying to survive. It’s true that girls just want to have fun, but girls also really want food. Nutrient intake is essential to life, so I hear, and I know from experience that it is no fun at all to go to wake up, work a shift, and go to sleep all with that awful ache of hunger in your stomach. Paychecks come every two weeks, and bills come due on a painfully frequent schedule. On this particular day, I had something like a dollar in change to find food for the day, and Kroger had discounted dented cans that caught my eye. I was such a naïve child. Thinking protein and veggies, I picked a can of sardines and a can of creamed corn. If you aren’t familiar with these two lovely items, save yourself the trouble and just don’t. I absolutely understand that others have far worse situations, but I almost don’t have words to describe the disappointment I felt upon coming into contact with the smell and texture of these “food” items, when I had been prepared to be sated. Never how, this is far more than the story of a trouble teen with food aversions, it also has its heroes.
On another fateful day, I was en route home from Tarrant County Community College in my 1992 Acura legend that I was so proud to have bought it all by myself. I had been riding on the gas light for a little while, and I knew I didn’t have any money to fill it up. Facing no other option, I pulled into the nearest gas station and scooped like thirty cents in pennies from the stained floor boards. I’m not sure if anyone else can empathize with the embarrassment that flushes your cheeks going in to pay like that. It seems like everyone is looking at you, turning up their noses or even worse- feeling sorry for you. In a shy mumble, I handed the cashier my sad handful and told her the pump number. For whatever reason the cashier rounded it up to a few dollars, giving me enough gas to make it until I got paid. I’m not sure if she knows what an impact she made on me, but I sure do. I still remember her so vividly because I don’t know what I would have done if she hadn’t.
I understand that the world can seem like a very uncaring place. Hate seems so pervasive and in-your-face, but under the surface, people are people and everyone goes through rough times. I am so very grateful to everyone who does the small things, please don’t stop helping each other. We’re all stuck here. We might as well just chill out.