So this book is out there:
After reading Nickle and Dimed, recent college graduate (and dude) Adam Shepard is “not particularly impressed with the victim mentality” of Ehrenreich’s book. He decides to do a simple experiment – move to a random city with $25, and see if, one year – 52 weeks – later, he has a car and apartment and some money in the bank. No help from friends/family, etc. He collects his story, full of the zany, but with really good hearts, homeless people he meets at a shelter, overcoming stuff, etc., in a (from reviews) earnest and not mean-spirited book called Scratch Beginnings. This summarizes it, if you are interested.
In general, people who worry about the safety net do not worry because white, college educated men in their early 20s with no health problems, families or criminal records can’t make it. But, whatever. You’re ability to take it seriously will probably depend on your ability to take this summary of his sacrifices seriously:
Sacrifice was the name of the game — delaying gratification — and I recognized that early on. I had immediately eliminated wants versus needs. Immediately.
Cable? That’s $50 a month and it’s not that difficult to find some good shows on network television.
Cell phone? $100 a month back in my pocket. If I had a business to run, I would need one, but as a mere laborer, it was easy to go without.
Clothes were bought at the Goodwill, and all of my household products were generic brands.
Food was my kryptonite, and I had to pay special attention there. I used to love going out to eat, and when I eat, I eat like a horse. Couldn’t do it, though. Chicken and Rice-A-Roni dinners were substituted for trips out to simple bars and grills ($20 a pop at a minimum). To be honest with you, though, it was more fun to concoct various meals than it was to go out. I bought a book on cheap, easy meals from the Thrift Store and it was like a Bible of sorts for me while I was in Charleston.
Seriously, a $100 phone bill? Here’s the fun part. Remember how this was a 52 week experiment? Well, ummm, from here:
Ten months into the experiment, he decided to quit after learning of an illness in his family.
The verb “quit” is too precious. “It was fun being poor for a while; I met a lot of interesting people and made rice-a-roni. But someone is sick, so that being poor stuff has to stop. I’m out – make sure to facebook me!” I’m wondering if this guy is Andy Kauffman or something, it almost feels like the perfect gag on the audience. But I doubt it.
So being poor isn’t bad if you don’t have a victim mentality and can not be poor on short notice. Check. And yes, in case you were wondering, this was just an elaborate setup for me to post William Shatner singing “Common People.”
I love how (2m30s) Joe Jackson has to harmonize his part with Shatner performing his lines in the key of Shatner Acting. Brilliant.