Flashback is a feature of RecessionFRESH.com which talks about our experiences of poverty and explores our emotional connection to money. If you would like to submit for this feature, please email us at RecessionFRESH@gmail.com .
While there are tons of humorous accounts of people’s experiences with potted meat, many of them trigger my own childhood traumas and my understanding of poverty.
Isn’t that pate, you ask? No, it is not pate. Potted meat is what fills the casings of vienna sausages. Stuffed into an aluminum can, with a little soda can tab. My father used to make sandwiches with potted meat and white bread while he was living out of a motor home. The custody hearing determined we’d spend every other weekend with him. I can still see him: after peeling back the lid, my father would use it to spread out the filling between and across corners of the future sandwich. It was admirably efficient, but I could feel myself doubling over inside.
Potted meat was my father’s favorite “cold cut,” though it was neither cold, nor cut. He would argue that potted meat was better than anything at the deli, since it keeps well and you could never really complain that it was too hot or cold since it challenging to figure out the temperature of a thin paste. Potted meat was also always ready: a meal as soon as you opened the can. Because these would be in my packed lunch, I never had the kind of meals or snacks that would interest my classmates in a trade. I didn’t meet string cheese or fruit snacks or oven roasted turkey for another couple of years.
I write this because we all have our triggers – things that take us back to the time where we felt the shame of our poverty. For one of my sisters, that trigger is wearing ugly socks whenever she has to take off her shoes before entering someone else’s home. For some, it’s forgetting their wallet after ordering a cup of coffee. For others, it’s lining up at the welfare office at 630 in the morning. For me, it’s potted meat.
Is there a thing/event that still triggers you, and makes you “feel” poor? Please leave a comment in the box below!