When World’s Collide

“Poverty is a veil that obscures the face of greatness.” -Kahlil Gibran

I work a few hours a week at a bodega near my house that specializes in local, organic produce, meats, and dairy. The job is great, the customers are amazing, and the discount really stretches my grocery budget.

It’s a small operation – the owner, me, another part-time girl, and a guy.  The owner, me, and the other girl are well-educated and from middle-class background. The guy is a high school drop-out and grew up in poverty that I can’t begin to comprehend. He’s a DC local. The rest of us are transplants.

A few days ago, we’d gotten in some new stock and the owner had left a list of the prices so someone could price them. The list looked something like this:

Angel Hair Pasta – 3.75
Spaghetti – ‘’
Rotini – 2.75
Bow Tie Pasta – ‘’

The guy did the pricing. We ended up with Angel Hair with a $3.75 price tag, Rotini with a $2.75 price tag, and Spaghetti and Bow Tie pasta with an $11 price tag.  No one could figure out why this stuff was priced at $11…until the owner realized that this guy didn’t know that the two apostrophes meant “the same price” and not “$11”.

No one teaches you that in school. There isn’t a class on stuff like this. People who grow up with educated, middle class parents don’t think twice about what those two apostrophes mean. It’s one of the many, many little things that can separate the “haves” from the “have nots.”

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