Photo: michi bertolino/Flickr
I try not to judge a book by it’s cover because usually the cover very seldom reveals what is written inside of the book. A few years ago I passed judgment on one of my good friends based on a social stigma. It took me less than two minutes to realise what I’d done and apologized profusely. But to this date I am still embarrassed by what I’d said.My friend was a single dad raising his son, going to school, while working full-time.
He lived in a trailer park. He was trying to save up money to move to a different state and provide a better life for his boy. In the end, he did achieve all of his goals: he got a good job in the state where he wanted to live and he bought a house. As of today he is planning to send his son off to college.
Back in the day his love life was not going very well. The contributing factors to his unfortunate dating situation was the lack of time, lack of money and the big gaping stigma of living in a trailer park.
One night at school he told me that not a lot of girls wanted to go out with him when they heard that he lived in a trailer park. I nodded understandingly, and without a second thought or any glimpse of hesitation, I eagerly admitted that I would not go out with him either: girls don’t like to date trailer park guys.
In my mind I saw a trailer park as a place where crime and drugs ruled. A trailer park was a place filled with trashy, stupid and brutal hillbillies drinking beer, throwing darts, shooting birds and raping an occasional passerby .Deliverance, anyone?
My friend was hurt.
“Just because I live close to the garbage, it does not mean I am the garbage,” he said.
Then it hit me . He chose to live in the trailer park because in that particular stage of his life it made sense to him. It was the way for him to lower his living expenses and save up for his son’s future.
Sometimes people have to make hard choices that others might never approve or understand. But life is not about other people’s approval. It is about you and your choices.
Ironically enough, a few years later, I moved into a low income apartment building where I lived for one year. It was not a trailer park but some of my girlfriends refused to come and visit me because they were scared of my neighbours.
My neighbourhood was tough: junkies, whores and some poor students like me. I made a choice to move to this apartment because it was cheap, clean and in a great location. I could walk to most of the places I needed, saving on gas. I was able to save quite a bit. A year later Beaker and I bought our condo.
Did living in this shitty place make me a junkie or a whore? Of course not.
Just because you live close to the garbage, it does not mean that you are the garbage.
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