It takes practice to perfectly stack baggage so that it properly buries the other baggage. Years and years and years of practice. And then it takes skill (and a bit of luck) to grab a whole bunch of good stuff and use it to cover all of that baggage. When all of that practice, skill, and luck come together just right, you end up being the kind of person who can watch This is Us without crying.
Oh, yeah. I can do that. I have watched every episode and I've done so without shedding a single tear.
The thing is, and anybody who has artfully stacked that baggage can confirm, it doesn't take much to throw the whole thing off. A few strategic words can send all of that baggage toppling.
A roundabout comment by a dentist about signs of childhood malnutrition.
Criticisms of people on food stamps by people who have never known the life that is living off of processed crap because it's the only thing that's affordable when you're living on food stamps.
A freakin' politician denying that free school lunch programs matter.
I know a thing or two about free school lunch programs because I have those things shoved into that baggage at the bottom of the pile. For one, I know that being on the receiving end of such a program is humiliating.
If you didn't already know that your family is one of the poorest in your school district, the first time you realize that not everybody gets a lunch card for free will tell you. And then you get reminded again and again because eventually other kids find out and they exploit that fact. It's not always purposeful mocking, sometimes they just wonder aloud, "How poor do you have to be to get that?"
The answer is very poor, thank you very much.
I also know that free lunch programs mean you don't get to pack your lunch on the days when the menu blows. There is no way to justify spending money on lunch when there is free lunch. Ever. Packing lunches is a thing that the rich kids get to do. For the record, when you're at the bottom of the scale, everyone seems rich. Perspective and such.
But the most important thing that I know about free school lunch programs is that they are worth every penny they cost. Worrying about social ranking is far better than worrying about being hungry. Learning is easier after a warm meal. And learning is the key because education is how the cycle is broken.
Free lunch programs break the poverty cycle.
I've got a giant pile of baggage I'm willing to throw at anyone who doesn't seem to understand that.