I have a box of Kleenex tissues on my bedside table, it reminds me that  ………………….



…………………………..  only in very recent years, have I allowed myself that luxury.

For most of my life, I kept an extra roll of toilet paper handy for wiping my nose, sneezing or mopping up tears. I did this, because the T.P. was cheaper than Kleenex, and I was pretty well forced to buy it anyway for its intended use. And, having been whipped by the lash of economic insecurity (ie poverty)  I have existential fear of any sort of personal extravagance. 

Today, I am pretty comfortable financially. But, I grew up in Griffin, where my family never had indoor plumbing, until I was thirteen years old. 

I was drafted into the US Army, when I was 19. At that time, a private E-1 soldier was paid about $90 per month. I specifically remember standing in the pay line on our monthly pay day to receive the $68 in cash, which was what remained of my $90 monthly pay after deductions. You do not develop stylish or expensive habits on $68 per month net.  

I re-enlisted and spent a total of eight years in the active duty Army. By the time I left the Army, I was a Staff Sergeant E-6 and bringing home about $1000 per month. Still not getting rich, but a lot better. However, this higher income was wiped out by the fact, that I spent my last 18 months of Army life in Alaska. Back in those days, while the Alaska pipeline was being built, Alaska was a stunningly expensive place to live. Most soldiers hardly ever went to town, because many of the pipe liners were paid per day, what we enlisted swine were paid per month. For this reason, soldiers were not catered to by businesses. 

After, I left the Army, I stayed drunk for about ten years, and the pay for that was even crumbier, than the Army pay.  During that time, I was once even homeless on the streets of New Orleans for a couple or three months.

I’ve had some humbling experiences, that have made a huge impression on me. 

Finally in the mid 1980’s I put the plug in the jug, and I started earning pretty good money in big ticket sales, and in some small time real estate developing. I did pretty well. And, then in the early 1990’s, I was lucky enough to meet Sue. We married, she was already pretty well set on her own, and she taught me how to keep some of the money that was passing through my hands.

Since, I married Sue, in 1992, things have been pretty rosy for me financially. But, I still have all of the fear of extravagance, that I picked up being stricken by poverty.  It is only within the last three or four years, that I have loosened up enough to buy the boxes of Kleenex tissues. 

I have poverty PTSD. I shop at thrift stores and garage sales and cruise the grocery store buying mark downs only.  I am trying to get over this, but it is tough to do. I am planning on trying soon to buy a new shirt, rather than the thrift store ones I have now. I will let you know how it goes.



Ron Nesler posting from New Harmony, Indiana



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