This is how lucky I am.
When I was digging up weeds yesterday, I was maintaining property that I own, not trying to make enough money to feed my family on someone else’s land. The conditions where I was digging were safe and I could stop whenever I wanted.
When I came in and took a shower, I had electricity, clean hot water, and a reasonable expectation of safety and privacy.
When I broke the soap holder off the wall while drying my leg and sliced the bottom of my foot open on the broken pieces, someone was home to help me.
When I had to hop around naked holding a clean maxi-pad on my foot trying to stop the bleeding while getting some clothes on, it was in front of my child care provider, a relative who loves me (and saw me give birth already).
When I could not stop the bleeding and needed medical attention, I didn’t have to worry about how we would pay for it.
When I needed information about where to get that medical care, I was able to look for a provider on my high-speed internet connection. I could read and understand the information, find the correct phone number, and make a savvy decision about where to go for treatment.
When I needed a ride to the urgent care center, my husband had the flexibility to leave work and drop me off so that my child care provider could take my two year old to his gym class as scheduled. Our family did not lose any income as a result.
When I got to the urgent care center, they had someone check on me me right away even though my scheduled appointment was in two hours. I waited for a doctor in a comfortable private room. I was treated with respect by every member of the staff who interacted with me.
When it took over three hours on a weekday morning to deal with the incident, I did not get in trouble with my boss or lose any income.
When I needed to keep my foot propped up, I could resume working from the comfort of my home, seated in a chair.
Unlike migrant farm workers. Unlike people who are poor. Unlike people who are in prison. Unlike people in abusive relationships. Unlike people who get paid hourly and have no sick time. Unlike people whose families and friends aren’t dependable. Unlike people who have no health insurance or who depend on public programs to pay for their health care. Unlike people who are doing their best to survive in a country where they don’t yet speak or the language fluently.
I wish everyone understood how much of what I have is because of luck. It was luck that my mother in law was home to help, and that the cut wasn’t deeper or longer because then hello stitches, but it’s even luck that I had a soap holder to cut it on in the first place. Looking at my son, who was born with even more advantages than I was, I don’t know how anyone can believe that there’s a level playing field. I grew up with money, skin color, nationality, health, family dynamics, education, and knowledge of how to navigate bureaucracy on my side, and he will too. He is starting out so far ahead, just like I did.
I have worked hard at times in my life. But most of the adults and a good percentage of the children in the world work harder in a day than I do in a week. They don’t get to sit at comfortable desks and push pixels around. They’re already putting in their time and then some. How are they supposed to work harder to cover the distance between where they are and where I am? Why are we so surprised when many people don’t have that strength, already working harder than I ever have and battling barriers I never had to face?
And when one of those people cuts their foot in the shower, why do so many people think it’s okay for their experience to be so much different from mine? That if they want to achieve what I have, they will simply work harder?