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A nurse wrote complaining on Facebook about an emergency room patient whose cell phone kept beeping during treatment. Not necessarily complaining that it was beeping, but that he even had a smartphone at all. That particular luxury coupled with his gold-plated teeth, excessive jewelry apparently riled up this hard worker because the patient’s insurance plan was Medicare. What that means of course is that this hard working nurse, and you, and I are paying for his healthcare while he obviously is instead spending his welfare money on unnecessary luxuries.

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AT OUR EXPENSE! She was certain.

We’ve all thought something at least similar.

My former boyfriend was notoriously imagining the wealth of others while wallowing intensely in his own financial struggles. The neighbors across the street were European, the husband seemingly stayed home all day long. The wife worked but they had 2 teenage children, 2 cars and had just bought their home for over $550,000.

Can you imagine! On just one salary apparently! How did they do it?

“How do we  manage to live in the same neighborhood as these supposedly rich Europeans?” I asked him.

“I have 4 children and I stay home all day long too!”

I worked from home. How did we know our neighbor didn’t also work from a home office? How do we know they’re not in as much debt or more for the house they bought and the cars that they drive?

Having spent the last year extremely broke I can think of several explanations for our emergency room patient that doesn’t make him out to be a freeloading mooch. Who is to say that he didn’t have an extremely lucrative job or business that plummeted suddenly. Perhaps 6 months ago his gold teeth  were well within his budget. Once tragedy strikes is he supposed to pull his teeth?

How many of us are stuck in a cell phone plan that would cost us much more to drop suddenly than to just keep paying for a few more months? Because, of course, that job is just around the corner and it is easier to get a job with a phone than without one. How do we know that a friend or family member isn’t paying the cell phone bill while the patient is going through hard times?

Some or none of this may be true. The point is that we don’t know.

I’m still on unemployment but I drive an SUV. I still wear the fairly nice clothes that I purchased over a year ago as I walk from my car to my tiny cave of an apartment. My less fortunate neighbors must be livid.

shortsI just carried bag after bag of groceries from my SUV to my apartment wearing Palms Springs madras shorts. What my neighbors don’t know is that these shorts are 3+ years old and I could afford them when I bought them. I just take care of them. I owe more on my SUV than it is worth. Selling it would only cost me more and leave me without a means of making money. My groceries were procured from the neighborhood food pantry because I don’t have the funds to grocery shop for the four days my four children will be staying with me.

I don’t look at anyone and try to determine if I’m better or worse off than they are anymore.

How do we know the person behind us in the checkout line at Goodwill isn’t a millionaire?

You don’t know, and neither do I.

A book’s cover may have exhausted the publisher’s capital before the book was even written.

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