In the 90’s I applied for student loans and then decided not to take them, I’ve been paying my college as I go, which means I do it much slower, but debt free. The ultimate goal is to earn a PhD or Doctorate. I don’t think I’m the PhD type but Ill go as far as I can. I should have done my entire life this way.
Growing up, we would use our possessions as gently as possible, and when we outgrew them, we would send them to Guyana. Sometimes I’d get irritated because it seemed like the better stuff would go to Guyana and I’d be stuck with crap. In grade 9 I wore clothes from Goodwill. I remember my $4 pair of jeans with someones name written on the inside tag. “Johnathan.” it said.
Shoes were the most annoying. My shoes were the cheapest shoes you could find. They would always be falling apart and I would repair them as best as possible. I would really wear my shoes out though. In grade 9, for about a full semester the entire bottom of my shoes had simply wore out so my socks and feet were actually touching the ground. It was embarrassing but so much other stuff was going on in life that I just went with it. When you’re defeated, you’re defeated and that’s how I spent most of my young life. I put my feet in plastic bags before I put them in my shoes, and that helped a lot. That’s not actually the worst. At Yorkview Public School there was a rule that you had to wear boots during certain weather conditions and change into clean dry shoes when you got to school. If you didn’t do this, you would have to walk around in your socks all day. Yorkview was a fantastic school. The teachers were overall very kind and we had a neat french immersion program which ensured that I got top grades in french my whole life. But this one rule was nuts. Of course I didn’t have a pair of shoes to change into, so I would always be in my socks, walking down the wet and cold hallways. People would ask why I was so forgetful to bring my “extra pair of shoes.” which I thought was simply a white people luxury at the time, and I would tell them to go to my house and ask my parents and get their head busted open in the process, instead of mine.
Now in terms of glasses, I used to have perfect vision. Then in grade 5 my vision started to slip. I couldn’t see the chalkboard even from the front row, but we couldn’t afford eye glasses. Well, maybe we could – when I told my parents / guardians that I needed glasses, they responded “no, you’re just bad.” Stupid monkey people.
Grade 6, grade 7, grade 8 my teachers would say “if anyone wants to come up to the front to copy off the board you can do that.” I wasn’t the only one, there were several people who really needed glasses. I got my first pair of glasses in December of grade 9 – the end of first semester, and I only got them because my french teacher told me not to return to his class unless I had glasses. The jackass made a mockery out of me in front of everyone, in front of all of my poor friends who couldn’t afford glasses. He was pretty much the most hated teacher in all of high school, everyone hated the guy. During class he would ask me to go get him paper towels from the bathroom, because his armpits were sweaty and he would need to soak up the sweat during class. Bloody french people, I thought to myself. I still think that actually.
I returned the next semester in his class with glasses, the cheapest pair we could find. Unfortunately 1 or 2 of my classmates couldn’t afford it and didn’t return to his class. Some of them didn’t even return to school.
This month I got myself new shoes, and new eye glasses, the kinds I wanted. And I gave a bunch of new clothes, shoes and new prescription eye glasses to people who really need them, who will make good use of them. It’s a nice feeling to take a car load of people to the mall, male and female, young and old and tell them “everyone get what you need and get something you want.”
One boy, age 14 put his brand new glasses on and told me that it feels so good to see properly and that he felt like crying.
I know the feeling.