A girlfriend of mine went to Planned Parenthood to get her NuvaRing prescription filled and was told by a Chanel-knockoff-wearing volunteer that they were out and didn’t know when new stock would arrive. She muttered quietly that she didn’t have the money to get it at the drugstore instead. The volunteer said, “It doesn’t cost that much more.”
One of the many reasons women use Planned Parenthood is the discounted cost of their birth control. Suggesting someone take an otherwise $7-15 prescription to a pharmacy where it can cost upwards of $80 is ignoring the reality of that person’s financial situation. It’s as if they’re saying, “Oh, you impoverished types. We know you have a couple hundred dollars stashed somewhere.”
My girlfriend was at a loss as to what to do. She had to choose between not having sex until she could save up the money or forgo paying one of her bills. I suggested she have that internal conversation out loud in front of the person who blithely told her to go to a pharmacy:
“So, it’s sex in the dark or not being able to wash up afterwards. Hmm. I could just cut back on groceries. ‘Oh look dear, I’ve laid out a nice plate of rice cakes and raisins for us.’ If I don’t pay the electric bill then we can have sex without being distracted by the heater kicking on.”
For the single gal who chooses to spend a little less on groceries, this changes up the booty call a little. “Why don’t you come over for some sex, and bring some canned goods.”
The thwarted view so many Haves have of the Have-Nots reminds me of the English speaker who insists the non-English speaker does in fact know more English than s/he is letting on. Really, unless they’re a double agent, what is it you think they expect to gain by pretending they don’t know what you’re saying?
It’s not just a rich-people thing to make gross assumptions about the poor. Even the moderately well off are known to engage in some pretty off-the-wall thinking when it comes to the less fortunate. Some of them engage in a kind of awkward duplicity in that they treat you as if have what they have even as they know you don’t. They gauge the high or low of a price you’re asked to pay by what they can afford, without regard to what percentage that is of your income. The partnering thought for these kinds of people is that having something, even if it’s not what you need, is somehow better than having nothing at all.
In my own impoverished days, I was thrice the recipient of food drives who offered bags of donated canned goods to qualifying families. While some would argue that beggars can’t be choosers, I would ask why someone would have something in their cupboards they themselves wouldn’t eat in the first place. Case in point: beets.
Yes, I know there are tens of dozens of people across our great nation who just love beets, but that doesn’t explain the massive number of beet cans finding their way into donation boxes while at the same time never showing up at cookouts, potlucks, and family gatherings. It’s the same with cans of asparagus, creamed corn, and those things that masquerade as green beans: wax beans. I’ve never seen any of these served on any dinner table and I’ve never seen them offered in any buffet or on any restaurant menu. I’ve seen beets served – and promptly ignored by everyone under the age of 80 – as if it’s some kind of culinary requirement that isn’t really meant to be eaten – like brussels sprouts or waxed fruit.
It is also often the case that by the time someone is called upon to donate a canned good, it has been sitting in their cupboard for several years. I’ve stared down many a passed expiration date and/or bulging can, wondering if my already strained budget could afford the risk of an emergency room visit for a bout of food poisoning. The family that stays together projectile vomits together, and all that. I think some people, under the guise of “sharing,” are just spring cleaning to make room for what most Americans consider real food – like green beans (that are green) and corn (that is whole).
So, my girlfriend ended up taking the bus to a Planned Parenthood on the other side of town to get her prescription. This was on the advice, not of the volunteer who had directed her to the pharmacy across the street, but of another woman in the waiting room who had been through this before. “She’s nice enough,” the woman said about the volunteer, “but don’t take her word on anything. She thinks the NuvaRing goes on your finger.”