What's the poorest you've ever been?

Asked by Jane Belanger

April 14, 2010

Photo of Brandon Hazou

Brandon Hazou

From Pacific Beach (Production Assistant)

The poorest I’ve ever been was when I was living on the streets and I was stealing food from the Vons store. I was homeless. I was a tweaker for a little bit, and I was completely and totally homeless on the street. I was living in a bush. So, that was fun! Basically, the thing that I can do to never be in that place again is to just stay sober.

Photo of Calire Tietje

Calire Tietje

From Del Cerro (Potter)

I’ve been pretty poor. I’ve had to ask people for money to pay bills and things, lived with my in-laws for years, and things like that. But you know what? I’ve always had something to eat. I’ve always had someplace to sleep. I’ve never been turned out because I didn’t have a place to live. I’ve always had food somehow; never gone hungry for lack of money. Compared to some people, I have never been really poor.

Photo of Vinnie Bruvry

Vinnie Bruvry

From Bay Ho (Between Jobs)

When I was first going to school in Santa Barbara and had just moved there. I didn’t have a car. We had a couple people to a room, I was going to school, and I was getting up at, like, 3:30 in the morning to help unload trucks at some paint store or something like that. I was out there unloading paint with, like, homeless people, and it was $20 a day or something like that I’d make. I’d take the bus and go to school. I was lucky to find a job soon after that, waiting tables, and it paid pretty good. But for a while there it was, like, ugh.…

Photo of Maxwell Torpey

Maxwell Torpey

From City Heights (Canvasser)

Right now! I was planning on going to Africa for a year, and I had pretty much cleaned out my bank account and sold my car so I could go on this volunteer trip for a year. Well, I got scammed by the African mafia and lost everything. They had gotten these emails from a legitimate organization, a travel agency, and somehow they scammed over five people; I was one of the five. I had just gotten out of high school, pretty much, so I was pretty dumb about how I went about it. Looking back at the emails and stuff, there’s all kinds of red flags, and I’m, like, Why didn’t I catch this?

Photo of Jhayko Vidales

Jhayko Vidales

From City Heights (Sandwich Maker)

When I was a little kid we had nothing. I grew up in San Diego back in the day...Logan Heights area, so it was pretty bad. I wasn’t aware of it back then; now I am. It’s hard to know the difference when you grow up in it — unless you had a different lifestyle and then became unfortunate enough to become poor. You don’t realize…everything seems fine. It’s not until you’re older that you realize how it has affected you. There’s probably so many ways it’s affected me that I still don’t even realize. It’s definitely given me more perspective on life. I place less value on material things than a lot of other people do.

Photo of Stefani Swanberg

Stefani Swanberg

From South Park (Nonprofit Work)

I had three dollars for groceries for me and my daughter for a week. I was living in Ocean Beach. But my daughter talks about that time very fondly, and she remembers exactly what we bought. She was about eight or nine, and I was in college. I was in between student loans, and that’s all that we had, like, three bucks! We talked about it; she absolutely knew what was going on.


a2zresource April 15, 2010 @ 11:55 a.m.

"What's the poorest you've ever been?"

Right now, after getting a $70K + 10% interest billing from SDG&E and Sempra Energy.


jerome April 17, 2010 @ 10:45 a.m.

the poorest i ever been was when i couldn't even pay attention


SDaniels April 19, 2010 @ 1:46 p.m.

Jerome: (wah, wah, wahhhhhh) [groan]

I've been many subtle levels and gradations of poor, and might as well say "right now," since my poor health has resulted in my being unable to work much, which has resulted in a lot of unpaid bills and extra medical expenses.

I'm so poor that though we still have a roof over our heads:

I have only about #20 in the bank, and that's soon to overdraw anyway, since money coming in has been delayed. Had $5 to do some laundry, until someone poorer than I came along:

A homeless writer I have helped with shelter and more showed up at the door, and yes, he is poorer than we. I washed his stinking clothes, put him in the shower, gave him a new shirt, etc. Tried to go get him a cup of coffee but I only had a dollar. He drank from my expensive mouthwash, so I had to pour that out ($8 down the drain). After cleaning up, shaving, and donning his new duds:

He proceeded to steal my last $5, in laundry quarters, on the way out the door.

I'm not going to bother to do the math :)


antigeekess April 19, 2010 @ 7:46 p.m.

Sadly, it's been my repeated observation that it's called "down & out" because they always try to drag you down with them when you help them out. :)

Never truly grateful for anything you do for them, they'll be sure to call you "b*tch" when you stop.

As for me...ketchup and spaghetti. Once when I was in college, there was nothing in the apartment to eat but ketchup and spaghetti for like, 3 days. That SUCKED. I still don't want any damn spaghetti, to this day.

Technically, I've been even broker than that within the last year -- because luckily (or unluckily, depending on your perspective) now I have credit cards that enable me to increase my actual NEGATIVE net worth when buying food. I've had to use gasoline station credit cards within the last year to buy groceries, when what should've been my work was being given away to someone else and I was left sitting at home.

I outlasted the bastard. He's gone now.



David Dodd April 19, 2010 @ 1:58 p.m.

I lived out of my car. I waited tables for tips thanks to a guy who felt sorry for me, it was at a Sambo's in Los Angeles, graveyard shift. I showered at college, this was back when you had to take phys ed as a requirement. I never thought myself poor, I thought myself temporarily unfortunate.

I reckon that poor is a relative term.


SDaniels April 19, 2010 @ 10:06 p.m.

Gringo, it sounds like you made a pretty fair situation out of it, until you could transition to better. Bravo!

Catsup and spaghetti? ERg. I just remembered living on "salad burritos" and baked potatoes, while my mother and I went through a really tough period. Nothing in the fridge but lettuce, potatoes (no butter), and tortillas. It was like some kind of really mean diet...


nan shartel April 19, 2010 @ 10:17 p.m.

i lived on $7.50 a week for 90 days that my dad sent me to feed 2 babies and a baby on the way when AFDC cut me off for not "ratting my neighbor out" for a boyfriend she had that may have or not have spent some occasional nites at her house


i lived with her during that time...washed my babies diapers on a rub board and accepted older produce for free from our neighborhood grocer

and i was too hemoglobin deficit from malnutrition to even think about it..it was just another "one foot in front of the other" timeframes


Jay Allen Sanford April 20, 2010 @ 4:18 a.m.

From my destitute dayz, I STILL know 12 different ways to make a meal from pinto beans and free fast food condiments.

I once traveled cross country on a Greyhound bus (4 days) with only a couple dollars change and a box of BooBerry cereal given to me by a fiend as I boarded the bus in downtown SD - to avoid dwelling on my hunger, I tried to sleep as much as possible, but on day two my prone form and blue lips (from the BooBerry) convinced my fellow riders that I had overdosed or died, and I awoke to paramedics checking me.....

For the rest of the trip, I ate out of bus station garbage cans and off the leftover plates of fellow bus riders. I was feeling like I MIGHT die by the time I finally made it to Nashville, where I pulled a miraculously untouched wrapped Subway sandwich out of the bus station garbage.

Tho soggy and clearly unfit for most people's consumption, I recall that sandwich - my first full "meal" in three days - as the most delicious and welcome thing I've ever eaten ------


antigeekess April 20, 2010 @ 4:49 p.m.

"...BooBerry cereal given to me by a fiend..."

We begin with a pretty funny Freudian slip. With friends like that, who needs fiends? :)

"...on day two my prone form and blue lips (from the BooBerry) convinced my fellow riders that I had overdosed or died, and I awoke to paramedics checking me....."

Now THAT is some funny stuff. You couldn't write a movie/sitcom scene funnier than that.

As for the rest, yikearoo. Sorry you had such a tough time of it, Jay. It does, however, confirm my contention that things like brains and talent don't necessarily guarantee success or an easy ride on the way to it. Glad you got there, and are doing things you enjoy now. Well deserved.

(And it's good to see your actual face, for a change.)



antigeekess April 20, 2010 @ 7:40 p.m.

Hey, wuddn' me, Grant. It was JayAllen "BooBerry" Sanford who wove that little tale concerning the premature rumor of his demise.

We 'could' put a darker spin on it, though. Let's see, what might somebody try to do to a dead body on a Greyhound bus?


'Course, these scenarios would have to be going on in the heads of all the other passengers, until the best worst one goes over and actually tries it, waking Rip Van BooBerry from peaceful slumber to the grumbles of disappointed opportunists.



Jay Allen Sanford April 20, 2010 @ 8:06 p.m.

See, that's what still bugs me - howcum nobody tried to give me a shake before having the driver notify paramedics to meet us at the next stop?! I must have looked as poor as I actually was....

That wasn't even the only time I've been mistaken for dead -

I sometimes sign comic books I've created to sell on eBay, and a buyer once posted negative feedback against me, claiming "JAS died before this comic was published, so he couldn't have signed it." I actually had prove to eBay that I was still alive to have the feedback removed.


antigeekess April 20, 2010 @ 8:18 p.m.

"That wasn't even the only time I've been mistaken for dead -"

LOL. Seriously. It's a problem for ya, huh? You could try a little fake bake, to get that healthy glow.

That eBay story's a hoot as well. Let's see, what do we title this book?

Not Just Yet: The Adventures of a Prematurely Dead Dude.

Hey, Don't Rush Me! Premortem Escapades of a...

What was that Cuddle called you a few months back?


CuddleFish April 20, 2010 @ 9:33 p.m.

LOL I do believe it was something along the lines of the pathetic memoirs of a dying wannabe outlaw cartoonist.

Sorry JAS ... ;)


Jay Allen Sanford April 20, 2010 @ 10:25 p.m.

Much as I like ALL those suggestions, I'm actually leaning toward "Rip Van BooBerry" ----


CuddleFish April 21, 2010 @ 8:46 a.m.

There's always the old ghetto joke: So poo', I couldn't afford the "r."


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