The other night I was sat here chatting to someone who was eating a kebab and it was pretty traumatic. It sounded quite nice and I was hungry because I had no food. Or money for food. And I hadn’t eaten properly for a day. Maybe two.
I mean, I had food. It was just emergency cupboard food. Who wants to make plain rice on the hob at midnight? I don’t even have a rice cooker. Also, it was midnight and I was sober, so a kebab would have been a bad decision all round. I would have been ill for days doing that. So I just went hungry. It happens.
I’m not sure what impression I give off of class and social standing. Whatever it is, you can lower it and keep going. I’m pretty damn poor. And it’s not very nice. Most people can’t tell, I don’t think. I just try to act as though I do have money but I just don’t care in the slightest.
So now you know. You can reassess your opinion of me entirely, if you need to. You’re probably wondering if I have an ulterior motive, if I’m going to ask for money or something. But no. I don’t want anything from you other than to listen to me.
However. Don’t give me any bullshit about not judging other people because of their class or status. We all do it. I do it. The important thing is to remember that your judgement is nothing but heuristics; mental shortcuts. You have the choice to override your judgement and give people a chance anyway. And it’s fucking hard sometimes, no matter who you are. It’s the same way people sometimes react around other people who scare them, like people of different colour, or people with disabilities, or people transitioning. Eyes take in information and the brain makes judgements. How you react is down to you. Some of us have at least a scintilla of guilt about being a shitstain to society.
I grew up poor though, and I have done extensive undocumented research on the underclass. Let me give you a brief family history: My parents weren’t ever really together. I don’t know the details about the overlap in relationships but I know there was one. I lived with my grandparents for most of my life, although I did live with my mum and her boyfriend for a bit, just before my youngest sister was born.
I haven’t seen her since she was 12, actually, in 2007. I looked her up on the internet once, and she seems okay. She was doing duckface, but we are Essex girls. I feel extremely guilty for leaving her behind. She doesn’t know where I am. Nor does my mum, or my mum’s boyfriend, or my dad.
I heard they were going to report me missing at one point. Nothing came of that. It’s quite possible they forgot, or just never got around to it. We weren’t exactly close.
Is this really all that interesting? This level of honesty is hurting me a bit.
Anyway, what I found funny about the kebab thing was that I have no money for food yet I was messaging this guy from a fancy-pants phone that I could probably sell for a couple of hundred. But I need my phone. More than food? Well, yeah. It’s not in my name, for another thing. And it’s under contract, so I’ll still have to pay that. But isn’t it weird we can suddenly have possessions of ridiculous value that we haven’t even paid for when we can’t even afford bread?
Life is so much different from when I was a kid. I barely got anything. My dad used to try and spoil me when I went there, like he did my other sister, but she was used to it and I wasn’t and I didn’t want the stuff they gave me. Christmastime was awful. The tree would be heaving with presents, and the majority of them would be absolute shit because not only were my dad and his wife poor, but they had terrible taste – and the idea of ‘one actually nice present’ wasn’t good enough when you could have ‘fucking everything (from the cheap’n’tacky shop)’.
Fuck light-up Christmas earrings.
I don’t have lots and lots of stuff these days. I have an old laptop. I have a crappy TV. I pay the bills, just about. Things are pretty hard because I have to answer to someone else at the minute, but I have my books, and my notebooks. And my kid and the cats always have food. So judge the fuck away.
I’m not the relevent one in any of this.
One day, though, I will own a rice cooker. It is my dream.