I’m not going to try to improve on this. Just read it
From Whatever: Being Poor
Being poor is knowing exactly how much everything costs.
Being poor is getting angry at your kids for asking for all the crap they see on TV.
Being poor is having to keep buying $800 cars because they’re what you can afford, and then having the cars break down on you, because there’s not an $800 car in America that’s worth a damn.
Being poor is hoping the toothache goes away.
Being poor is knowing your kid goes to friends’ houses but never has friends over to yours.
John Scalzi gives a few words himself on why he wrote it, as well:
Aside from being work-stoppingly angry, I was also somewhat personally alarmed. I know no one personally in New Orleans, as far as I know, so I didn’t have an obvious personal connection to the disaster there. To be blunt about it, I’m not the sort of person to get wound up about things; yes, I’m rather boisterous when it comes to my writing here, but this is also a generally effective heat sink for my irritability (or perhaps it brings it out) and most people who know me would attest I’m not the overly angsty on a day-to-day basis because, really, who has the time. New Orleans had me worked up beyond reason and I had to figure out why, because I wanted to get my head back.
What I eventually figured out is what prompted me to write “Being Poor,” which was that I had gotten myself into a state watching the people who stayed behind in New Orleans struggle and die, and listening to people wonder — some genuinely, some derisively — why they just didn’t get out when they were ordered to get out. There were enough people going “you idiots, they couldn’t leave, they’re poor,” including me, but if you don’t have experience being poor, ultimately that’s not helpful. I wanted to provide some context for what it’s like to be poor. “Being Poor” was my attempt.