Take Me Somewhere Else
I’ve been playing catch-up this week in the studio since I was out all last week. That also includes listening to the tv while drawing or writing. All I’ve been hearing on the news (I’m a news junkie) is about how hard it is for people who work for the government to survive with little to no money. I don’t mean to downplay their hard luck. Surely they’re not used to having to cut back to make raggedy ends meet. You know who IS used to it? Me and more people than you know.
One lady was on the tv giving an interview about how she had to go grocery shopping and stock up on food for ten days with only $100. I don’t mean to laugh – but that’s rich folks money! I am accustomed to $50 and an empty cart. My goal at the end of the shopping adventure is to have a week’s worth of dinners, milk, coffee, and bread to feed Tim and me when I leave. You’d think that would be easy to do — if we didn’t eat meat. But Tim eats meat. So I have to get chicken, beef, and fish. That right there will kill a $50 bill.
Just three chicken breasts will cost $12 easily. So we opt for the whole chicken since we have a rotisserie. That cuts the chicken cost down to $8. We HAVE found that two bags of frozen (not fresh) chicken tenders is only $12. That will give us 24 tenders that I can fry (since Tim likes fried chicken) for a few days with leftovers.
Fish is a luxury. We haven’t had fish in months. Not even the bottom feeder fish, Swai.
Tim loves meatballs. He’ll eat meatballs with anything. But the bagged, frozen ones are expensive. So I make them by hand. The bag – $8. Ground beef and pork – $6. It’s just cheaper and healthier for me to make them for him.
Once you throw a gallon of milk ($6) and some creamer ($5) for the generic instant coffee ($4) into the cart, along with a loaf of bread ($3) and Koolaide ($3) and sugar for the Koolaide ($2) I have pretty much run of money. But I still have to buy the rice or potatoes and the vegetables to complete the dinners.
The lady on the interview said “I had to buy generic beans and rice to make soup so we could eat.” Yeah – I call that “dirty rice” here. Welcome to my world EVERY day, not just during a shutdown. I make the rice, look in the fridge to see what I can add and stir until boiling. My beans are store brand. So is the butter, the oil, the sugar, the almost everything I can get generic. It’s rare that I grab the name brand stuff.
Along with the groceries we have the big bills that need to be paid. Like electricity ($200) and water ($40) and car insurance ($90) every month. We had to cut the cable since that $200 a month was ridiculous. We kept the internet ($80) and have apps that we pay for monthly. Hulu($12) and Netflix ($13) and CBS All Access ($6). We use Sling to watch live tv ($33). No complaints there. Just letting the lady on the tv know we’ve all made sacrifices here.
We don’t have phones. Tim and I couldn’t imagine paying $45 per line to get one or two phone calls a month. It’s just stupid. We use the Google Phone. It’s free. I love free!
Now, to be fair, I don’t know if the lady on the interview has children. I suppose that would make it a different story. In MY world – the kids would always eat before I eat. It’s sort of like that already here. Tim eats first, followed by the two dogs, then me. Even though I do all the cooking and could totally cheat and eat while cooking. I’m just not that guy. What got me (I think) the most was how she acted like she was now being forced to live in a third-world-country situation when I’ve been living this way for years. Ask me when the last time we’ve visited a Subway or a McDonald’s. You don’t have to ask…it’s been years. We can’t afford the $20 for fast food when that same $20 can put a half tank of gas into the car.
Somehow, we make it all work. We don’t cry to anyone, and we always have food in the kitchen for anyone that pops in. I do warn you, though — if you crack open one of my precious Coke (a cola) cans, you had better drink it ALL. I will be extremely pissed if you leave half a can. That’s just wasting a can that I counted on drinking in its entirety. And I WILL remember how wasteful you were the next time you reach for one of my Cokes. And trust me, I’ll call you out on your wasteful habits. Again…on the fair side, I DO have a few friends that pop in with a case of Coke for my refrigerator when they visit. So they can be as wasteful as they want. But don’t push it.
Oh, and finally, we’ve lived in the SAME apartment for 13 years now. The rent is close to $1000 a month. It was $575 when we moved in back in 2006. It’s the same apartment. It didn’t get better with age. The rent increases over the years are just the greed of the complex owners. Plain and simple. That’s the cost of survival.