Learning With Git-Some
by Fred Reed:
The View From Abroad
Before I learned
about poverty, I was just a country boy from up the holler in West
Virginia, with twelve toes, and I guess I didnt know much.
Especially about poverty. When I got to Washington, DC, I decided
that I ought to be poor. I just wish Ida started earlier.
good deal. You get lots of free stuff and you dont have to
work. If I had knowed about poverty when I was fourteen, and what
a good thing it was, IDA give up my paper route. I mean, who
in his right mind would get up at four-thirty in the morning in
January, with eight inches of snow on the ground, and ride across
lawns on a bike with four hundred pounds of the Wheeling Intelligencer
in a basket, so people could read about crooked politicians and
clip grocery coupons? And then Id catch the school bus.
lady said I was pretty smart, and she hoped Id go far, but
I reckoned sheDA been happy if I just went to the next country
When you got
out of high school, you had to get a job, and get up mornings even
if you didnt want to, and do something all day that you probably
didnt like. Unless you were poor, and then you could sleep
in and do what you wanted all day. I didnt know it then, though.
if you want to be poor is to go to Washington, the Yankee Capital,
and take up poverty. Then the feddle gummint gives you a house for
free. It may not be the best house in the world. You probably don't
have your own swimming pool like a football field. But its
dry and warm and nothing wrong with it. And in the morning you can
get up early, just to appreciate that you dont have to, and
watch all those other people go to work. They got better houses,
sure. But they got to sit all day in little square boxes in offices
and scratch on pieces of paper. You dont, if youre poor.
gives you Medicaid in case you fall on your head, and Food Stamps,
or really its like a credit card, so you can act like one
of them high-dollar lawyers that work twenty hours a day and makes
a million dollars till they die of a heart attack. Dont matter.
Theres always another waiting in line. You can get roasted
chicken at Safeway or Cheetos or anything you want. Or you can sell
your Food Stamps and buy liquor. Or that left-handed tobacco.
gives you welfare, which is money. See, you get to be poor and have
money at the same time. Only America has figured out how to do that.
It makes you feel all patriotic, when you wake up at eleven to eat
aint a lot of money. It aint a lot of work, either.
But its enough to live on really good if you think about it.
For a couple of hundred dollars you can buy a cheap stereo that
lasts forever. Cheap stuff now is a lot better than expensive stuff
used to be. Another few hundred gets you a cheap computer that lasts
for five years, and internet dont cost much. You can steal
all the music you want. You can get CDs from your friends and copy
I heard about this and went to Washington to be poor, I met this
feller, Git-Some Jukis. That wasnt his real name, not Git-Some,
but everybody called him that because he had a lot of girlfriends.
He was real smart and had a beard and read books He told me he wanted
a good education when he got out of high school, but it cost too
much. He said being poor was better than a university. It was because
when you are poor you have plenty of time to study, and everything
you need is free.
the Martin Luther King Public Library on Ninth Street, where you
can get any kind of book you want and read it. If you dont
read too good, theres plenty of ways on the Internet to learn
if you really want to, but Git-Some could read fine already. He
had this thing called a Kindle, that cost about seventy dollars.
Thats less than you can sell one bunch of Food Stamps for.
And he used to get free books from the Internet with it.
The more he
talked about it, the more I thought maybe Id do it too. It
sure sounded easy, and everything was free. If you wanted to learn
about Art, you could spend whole afternoons at the National Gallery
or the Phillips Collection, whatever that was. A collection of Phillpses,
I guess. I reckon Ill go find out, once I get really settled
into poverty. You could go to all the Smithsonian museums, which
are free, and read all about any of it on the computer before you
And he said
you could find all kinds of free music, like classical at the Kennedy
Center, and lots of free lectures about interesting stuff, and there
was so much of it that getting educated could take up all your time.
it was harder to get free stuff if you were white, and he was, but
he said you could still get most of it if you were smart. Just to
be sure, hed told the feddle gummint that he was a Cambodian
refugee, but albino. They kept sending him letters in Cambodian,
which he couldnt read. He told them it was because in his
village they didnt have a school because of all the land mines.
He said someplace
called MIT put all its college courses on the Internet and he was
studying like a steam beaver, and anybody who had the advantage
of poverty, and didnt feel thankful and study and listen to
music was just shiftless. He kind of upset me. Momma always told
me not to be shiftless.
I thought about
it all, and what Git-Some said. Id always had curiosity about
things and I wanted to educate myself, but I never had time because
I had to work, like night shift at Kriegstedts Amoco on Route
301 in Virginia. Having a job really gets in the way of your poverty.
I decided to be like Git-Some. Id buy me a Kindle with my
first Food Stamps and get him to help me. It made me appreciate
things. I always liked America fine. But poverty made me realize
what a wonderful great country I lived in.
is author of Nekkid
in Austin: Drop Your Inner Child Down a Well, A
Brass Pole in Bangkok: A Thing I Aspire to Be, Curmudgeing
Through Paradise: Reports from a Fractal Dung Beetle, Au
Phuc Dup and Nowhere to Go: The Only Really True Book About Viet
Nam, and A
Grand Adventure: Wisdom's Price-Along with Bits and Pieces about
Mexico. Visit his
© 2013 Fred Reed
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