Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Judging Covers

Appearances can be deceiving, or never judge a book by its cover.

Recently Darlena Cunha (who writes for “The Huffington Post” and Thought Catalog) wrote about her experience driving to pick up her WIC vouchers in her husband’s Mercedes. The article itself is about how she felt doing it and considering the judgmental backlash she received, I can understand her consternation.

In finding this article, I also found an “Onion” article about an all knowing woman named Carol Gaither. The tongue in cheek piece details all the situations in which she knows those around her are making errors in judgment, most specifically her assessment of how people spend food stamps, including describing buying TV dinners instead of the stuff to make dinner from scratch.

I also saw a Facebook post about a campaign in Florida to put a different face on homelessness by having homeless people hold up cardboard signs saying something about themselves. They included college graduates, computer geeks, those fleeing abuse and the gainfully employed. All had a story how they ended up there, but not one you could see looking at them.

So now my opinion. You can’t judge a book by its cover and appearances can be deceiving.

Darlena admitted she’d used her husband’s car because her Honda wouldn’t start.  So next time you see someone at WIC or the welfare office driving a fancy or nice car, think it may be possible they’re borrowing a friend or family member’s automobile, the reason doesn’t matter.  And don’t judge Darlena’s husband for keeping the fancy auto. Consider how much more you’d spend each month with a car payment and the additional insurance required when you don’t fully own it. Personally, having a car costs me more each month than keeping a roof over my head, because I have a car payment.

I smiled at the “Onion” article. I’ve bought the pop, chips and TV dinners with food stamps. I’m no longer eligible for welfare, though I don’t buy such things anymore often. Not nearly enough to please my kids anyway. For all you people out there judging what others choose to spend their money, or food stamps on, try eating home cooked meals every single day, with little variety because you can’t afford much. Everybody needs a treat once in a while and Banquet TV dinners are less than a dollar each, plus each of my kids can have something they want without the daily argument over what’s for dinner. True, I’ve known people who bought all the highly processed, pre-prepared foods they could and then complained about not having enough to get through the month, nevertheless it doesn’t mean everyone who happens to buy those types of foods always purchases them.

And homeless?

I ended up between homes and in a shelter once. A situation beyond my control because we’d moved from one state to be closer to family and had difficulty locating housing. It didn’t last long, however you never know how or why someone ends up there.

So what you see in one brief encounter doesn’t give you the whole story. Seeing a homeless person on the corner doesn’t tell you anything more about them than they have no home. Noticing someone buying candy, pop or TV dinners with food stamps may tell you they don’t know how to budget, or maybe they can’t cook, or it might mean they’re tired or fed up and just need a treat or something fast and easy for dinner. That woman arriving to her WIC or welfare appointment in an expensive car may have borrowed it because she didn’t have one, or hers broke down. Or maybe, just maybe, she paid for it in full before her finances took a nosedive. Since you can’t judge a book by its cover, you don’t know the story and appearances can be deceiving.

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