Sometimes broke doesn’t mean what you think it does.

Words don’t always mean the same thing.

“I’m broke until the end of the month,” I said.

She looked worried and started to root around in her purse. “Do you need money for food? Will your power get shut off?”

I shook my head. I had food on my shelves and in my fridge. My bills were paid. I actually had money in my account, but just enough for what I had to buy for that week. I didn’t have extra for movies or ordering pizza.

And then I remembered when she’d told me once that she was broke. That she didn’t have enough ramen to last until she got paid. That she wasn’t sure if she’d run out of gas on the way to work. That the gas company was sending bills in the red envelope.

I was middle-class white guy broke. She was working-class woman broke.

In the United States we like to pretend that socioeconomic class doesn’t exist. We like to pretend that the amount of wealth you have doesn’t make a difference to who you are.

But it does.

Even when you’re both “broke.”

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