Why Are Poor People Angry?
November 20, 2016
I live in a lower middle-class neighborhood. Why? Because after being released from prison and getting a divorce I was on my own and wanted to find a home that I could afford by myself. Apartment living was not an option and since I was no longer a six-figure earner I had to plan and strategize. I did a lot of searching and found a nice large foreclosure with an affordable mortgage. My goal at the time was to keep my expenses low and become debt free as soon as possible. This plan is running very smoothly as I only have a grad school student loan and my mortgage left.
However, there was a unrealized “tradeoff” in deciding not to get a home or apartment in one of the yuppie/buppie areas of town:
yup·pie ˈyəpē/ noun informal derogatory a well-paid young middle-class professional who works in a city job and has a luxurious lifestyle.
The tradeoff was that poor and lower income people are treated very differently by the businesses in their area. So that we will be on the same page, my definition of lower income is when you live in Atlanta and earn less than $50,000 per year.
I hear from lots of black activist that berate other black people for shopping in the “Ritzy Ditzy” areas of town. These activists say that the lower income areas of town don’t thrive because the people take their dollars out of the area as soon as they get paid.
I feel that I have stumbled on one of the main reasons that poor and lower income people don’t shop near their homes. It’s because of they way they are treated.
I travel the country a lot and I didn’t get out around Metro Atlanta a lot until recently, due to meetings and conferences that I have been attending. What I have noticed has shocked me and made me angry at the same time. There is a systemic problem in the lower income areas that I don’t see changing unless people stand up and get active. I will tell you about the problem by describing what happened to me.
Recently I went into the local Kroger around 9:30am. I wanted some fruit so I got some peaches and a few other items. When I got to the front there was ONE cashier and EIGHT people in line. I can imagine the look on my face. As I started to look around for a manager I noticed an older female employee beckoning me to come to the self-checkout area. I told her that I don’t like self-checkout, especially when I have fruit. She begged me to come over and promised to help me with the transaction. True to form the order didn’t ring up properly. The peaches rang up $1.98 each instead of $1.98 per pound. I got irritated because I was in a bit of a hurry. She called a supervisor and we waited. Nobody came. Finally she just made some changes on her self-checkout register and rang up the peaches for less. I paid and asked for $20 cash back via the self-checkout machine. The supervisor came over as I was bagging my items, and an inquiry about the peaches ensued. In the midst of this peaches investigation and my trying to get out of there I didn’t get the $20 from the self-checkout machine. I don’t ever remember asking for cash back from them because I don’t normally use them but I went on about my business.
When I arrived at my destination about 15 minutes later I was fuming as I realized that I didn’t get the $20 from the employee. Then I realized that it must have popped out of the machine, and I rushed back to the store. I got to the self-checkout area and there were about 7 people in that line and about 6 people in the only regular cashier line. The little lady that had “helped” me in self-checkout was extremely busy and said, “Oh, somebody probably took the $20.” At that point I was furious and the Detroit in me came out. I ask her to call the store manager. As I waited for the store manager, the other people in the self-checkout area were angry because of the wait and because they were having problems with the machines.
The manager came over and I lit into him. I told him that I don’t like to use those machines because they always ring stuff up wrong and because of that I didn’t get my $20 and I want it. He told the little lady to give me $20 from her self-checkout register. Then I asked him why he only had 1 cashier line open and 15 people waiting to check out. I said that I had been up in Peachtree Corners and Vinings recently (Ritzy Ditzy areas) and there were cashiers on every register. He looked at me and said, “It’s a matter numbers. Kroger has a formula that let’s me know how many cashiers to have on registers.” I said, “Surely there are not less people over here in “the hood” than there are in Roswell, Vinings and Peachtree Corners!” Then came the bombshell. He said, “I’m not talking about numbers of people I’m talking about dollars in the baskets.” I paused as I took in what he had just said. In essence, because the poor people are buying less per grocery cart they have less cashiers available to serve them, thus they use much more of their time waiting in lines!
In addition to that, the grocery stores in the ritzy ditzy areas have much more healthy and organic food choices whereas many of the lower income area stores don’t have any or very few. This is a reason poor and lower income people are not as healthy. (We won’t get into all the liquor stores that are in the lower income communities as opposed to the upper income communities.)
Then I thought about the local Wal-Mart, which has the same issues and because of that I don’t shop there anymore. Then I thought about the local bank. I have to make deposits for others in my profession and in the lower income communities I’ve noticed one or two tellers with a steadily growing Bank of America line of 12 people. Then I remembered the time I was in Cobb County at a BOA and every station had a teller!
To add insult to injury, an older customer explained that the reason many grocery prices are higher in the lower income communities than they are in the upper income communities (this is true) is because the stores know they will get food stamps from the latter (Just like healthcare costs are sky high due to health insurance being in place).
So, even without being able to express their reasons, many in the lower income communities flock to the upper income community businesses because they feel like if they are going to spend their hard-earned resources they want to spend them in an area where they get RESPECT, or at least fast efficient, accurate service.
I am taking action. I have already expressed my dissatisfaction to Kroger corporate, and will be writing Bank Of America soon. It is not fair. Just because people in higher income communities spend more money or deposit more money doesn’t mean the people in lower income communities should get the scraps, leftovers, poor service and attitude (the grocery store cashiers and bank tellers). This problem has no color, no race or no political party. It is about economics. Socioeconomic status is what is driving this disparity and if you are experiencing these issues don’t just grin and bear it, make your voice heard. Go to the manager and demand more cashiers, more tellers, better service, cleaner facilities, comparable pricing, and better quality items. If corporate doesn’t comply find another place that will comply and then put that company on blast, like I’m doing right now!
Life is too short to be bullied around because of your socioeconomic status! Be proactive and fight for your equal rights to excellent products and service! I am. I will not be forced to drive an extra 15 or 20 miles out of my way to receive excellent produces and service. Don’t get mad change the game. SPJ