Effects of Poverty and Single Parenting
The year before, Dorothy Wexel had blithely encouraged me to start typing at home, saying, “Oh, you’ll be able to write off all your expenses and part of your rent and other expenses and . . .”
That might have been good advice for someone at a higher income level, someone who owned a home and other big-ticket tangibles that could be itemized. It was less than sound advice for a renter, with a low income.
That is one of the devastating effects of poverty and also of single parenting. We often have no one to help us make financial decisions, or at least ones that fit our situation. Dorothy was trying to be helpful but she was thinking from a non-poor perspective.
Dorothy’s well-intentioned advice was particularly devastating because I had no savings out of which to pay an entire year’s worth of suddenly due tax. Even if I had known taxes would have to be paid, it’s doubtful I could have saved anything.
Making Lemonade out of Lemons
Grateful that I had at least had enjoyed one entire year of being a stay-at-home Mommy for Sharon, I began reading the classifieds. I also began reviewing my shorthand, still required for higher level secretarial jobs in those days.
Night after night, after Sharon was asleep and I had finished the day’s transcribing, I sat at that rickety card table. I filled page after page after page practicing the basic strokes, short forms, and abbreviations I’d learned for Gregg shorthand in secretarial school ten years earlier.
For twenty dollars, I purchased one interview outfit, a gray and white striped top and skirt on a double mark-down. I scheduled interviews while Sharon was at school, came home, hand-washed my outfit and had it hanging on our patio clothesline by two o’clock. It would dry in the afternoon sun and I ironed it that night for the next day’s interview.
Setting My Heart to Trust God
After several weeks, I was interviewed for a civil service position. Because the duties and the benefits looked good, I was hopeful; however, being hired by the Sheriff’s Office, even for a secretarial position, was a long and tedious process that included several interviews, background checks, and so forth
While I waited, I kept looking, desperately and consistently. But I found nothing that would pay our bills. So I kept transcribing, hoping something would turn up before the extension for last year’s taxes was over and before I had accumulated yet another eight hundred dollars of unpaid taxes.
I began working as an executive secretary in early December that year. That’s when the maelstrom hit Sharon and me both with equal force and effect.