We're all poor

Apr 15, 2005

This week and next, WUNC is offering some excellent interviews, stories and discussions about poverty with its North Carolina Voices: Understanding Poverty series. Each poverty story makes me remember two times in my life, when I was temporarily poor (a distinction a number of experts have along with explaining the difference in the poor of underdeveloped nations).

When I returned to Cleveland from Hawaii, I moved into a Shaker Square apartment of my own. Without any savings, and no car, I was at the mercy of public transportation schedules as I shuffled between jobs at a bookstore and an Italian bistro. For a week or two, all I had on my shelves was Saltine crackers and peanut butter and jelly, and a few nights I went to bed with a hunger headache. Dinner at Rodman and the generosity of Erin’s parents got me through that.

When my family lived on St. Croix—I was 13 at the time—we lived in a large house on an old estate, and I and my brothers had a blast playing with our friends the Frey brothers. I remember making fresh limeade with my mother in the kitchen as the priest we’d befriended came to the door with a cardboard box filled with meet and cheese and other food. (Mom, help me remember his name, please.) His generosity helped my parents feed five hungry boys who’d prowled the bush all day.

The kindnesses of friends, family and even strangers have touched me and my family time and time again. It’s important that WUNC raises the issue of poverty. It’s important for me—and you—to remember how poverty in America and the world touch us everyday.

Anton Zuiker

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