Standing in line for free food and wondering how I will feed my daughters next week…
Nothing humbles a soul like being in need and having someone help you. I had just started work, but would not get paid for another week. I spent all of my money to rent an apartment. Between utilities and needing to save for rent, we would run out of food. I dug up some change for gas and drove to a local food bank. Standing in line with my daughters, I looked at the faces of the people in line with me. I could tell some were homeless. I almost felt guilty for being there, but I was too busy feeling embarrassed that I was there. I remember thinking to myself, my kids deserve better than this. I started a job working four days a week at a local dental office.. I was making only enough to pay the bills, so sometimes I would have to ask the utility company for a payment extension. I picked up a second job a couple of nights a week as a cocktail waitress. With the tip money I was making, I did not have to stand in line for free food again. We did however still buy out clothes from the local Salvation Army. If I had a really good weekend in tips, I took the girls to Walmart for a new outfit.
I met a other single working moms at the playground of the apartment complex. We took turns watching each other’s kids when our schedules allowed. Finding someone to babysit was difficult a lot of the time. I had some help from my younger siblings from time to time. My mom let my younger sisters and brother come stay with me during the summer to help with the girls while I worked. I moved out of the apartment complex and rented a house. We had accumulated a couple of cats and dogs and were not allowed to keep them at the apartment. My three younger sisters and brother actually ended up living with me for a while when my mom went to jail for welfare fraud. Her ex-husband had turned her in for something out of spite. I wasn’t always on good terms with my mom. I still had issues about her walking out on us when I was ten years old, getting remarried,having more kids, and doing cocaine with me when I was 16.
I was twenty-five, working two jobs and had seven children to feed now. Not to mention the three dogs and I have lost track of how many cats think they live here now. I decided to quit my job at the dental office. I had learned to tend bar over the past year and was now working at a little dive bar comedy club a few blocks from home. The tips were good and I made more in tips working three nights than I did on my paycheck over a two-week pay period at the dental office.
My rent was never late. I worked my ass off to make sure the bills were paid and the kids were fed. I rented this house for a year. I was out pruning the rose bushes and two men approached me. They showed me identification to prove they worked for the Veterans affair. They were there to change the locks on the doors due to a foreclosed loan on the house. I showed them my rental agreement and all of my receipts for the rent I paid. I followed them down to the police department to file a report of fraud. The person I had been paying rent to the entire time, did not even own the house. It was a scam.