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Democracy

Single mom perfectly explains to Congress why the U.S. poverty line needs a total rehaul

"I'm not asking you to apologize for your privilege but I'm asking you to see past it."

Single mom perfectly explains to Congress why the U.S. poverty line needs a total rehaul
Photo by Ev on Unsplash

Nearly 12 percent of the U.S. population lives in poverty. That's more than one in ten Americans—and the percent is even higher for children.

If you're not up on the current numbers, the federal poverty line is $12,760 for an individuals and $26,200 for a family of four. If those annual incomes sound abysmally low, it's because they are. And incredibly, the Trump administration has proposed lowering the poverty line further, which would make more poor Americans ineligible for needed assistance.


However, debates over the poverty line don't even capture the full extent of Americans struggling to make ends meet. For many people, living above the poverty line is actually worse. These are the folks who make too much to qualify for aid programs but not enough to actually get by—a situation millions of working American families find themselves stuck in.

Amy Jo Hutchison is a single mother of two living in West Virginia, and a community organizer for West Virginia Healthy Kids and Families and Our Future West Virginia. She has also lived in poverty and been part of the working poor herself. In an impassioned speech, she spoke to the House Committee on Oversight and Reform about what poverty really looks like for working families—and even called out Congress for being completely out of touch with what it takes for a family to live on while they're spending $40,000 a year on office furniture.

Watch Hutchison's testimony here (transcript included below):

Ms. Hutchison Testimony on Proposed Changes to the Poverty Line Calculation

"I'm here to help you better understand poverty because poverty is my lived experience. And I'm also here to acknowledge the biased beliefs that poor people are lazy and the poverty is their fault. But how do I make you understand things like working full-time for $10 an hour is only about $19,000 a year, even though it's well above the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour?

I want to tell you about a single mom I met who was working at a gas station. She was promoted to manager within 30 days. She had to report her new income the DHHR within 60 days. Her rent bumped from $475 to $950 a month, she lost her SNAP benefits and her family's health insurance, so she did what poor people are forced to do all the time. She resigned her promotion and went back to working part-time, just so she and her family could survive.

Another single mom I know encouraged her kids to get jobs. For her DHHR review she had to claim their income as well. She lost her SNAP benefits and her insurance, so she weaned herself off of her blood pressure medicines because she—working full-time in a bank and part-time at a shop on the weekends—couldn't afford to buy them. Eventually the girls quit their jobs because their part-time fast food income was literally killing their mother.

You see the thing is children aren't going to escape poverty as long as they're relying on a head of household who is poor. Poverty rolls off the backs of parents, right onto the shoulders of our children, despite how hard we try.

I can tell you about my own with food insecurity the nights I went to bed hungry so my kids could have seconds, and I was employed full time as a Head Start teacher. I can tell you about being above the poverty guideline, nursing my gallbladder with essential oils and prayer, chewing on cloves and eating ibuprofen like they're Tic Tacs because I don't have health insurance and I can't afford a dentist. I have two jobs and a bachelor's degree, and I struggle to make ends meet.

The federal poverty guidelines say that I'm not poor, but I cashed in a jar full of change the other night so my daughter could attend a high school band competition with her band. I can't go grocery shopping without a calculator. I had to decide which bills not to pay to be here in this room today. Believe me, I've pulled myself up by the bootstraps so many damn times that I've ripped them off.

The current poverty guidelines are ridiculously out of touch. The poverty line for a family of three is $21,720. Where I live, because of the oil and gas boom, a 3-bedroom home runs for $1,200 a month. So if I made $22,000 a year, which could disqualify me from assistance, I would have $8000 left to raise two children and myself on. And yet the poverty guidelines wouldn't classify me as poor.

I Googled 'congressman salary' the other day and according to Senate gov the salary for Senators representatives and delegates is $174,000 a year so a year of work for you is the equivalent of almost four years of work for me. I'm $24,000 above the federal poverty guidelines definition of poor. It would take nine people working full-time for a year at $10 an hour to match y'all's salary. I also read that each senator has authorized $40,000 dollars for state office furniture and furnishings, and this amount is increased each year to reflect inflation.

That $40,000 a year for furniture is $360 more than the federal poverty guidelines for a family of seven, and yet here I am begging you on behalf of the 15 million children living in poverty in the United States—on behalf of the one in three kids under the age of five and nearly 100,000 children in my state of West Virginia living in poverty—to not change anything about these federal poverty guidelines until you can make them relevant and reflect what poverty really looks like today.

You have a $40,000 dollar furniture allotment. West Virginia has a median income of $43,000 and some change. People are working full-time and are hungry. Kids are about to be kicked off the free and reduced lunch rolls because of changes y'all want to make to SNAP, even though 62 percent of West Virginia SNAP recipients are families with children—the very same children who cannot take a part-time job because their parents will die without insurance. People are working full-time in this country for very little money.


They're not poor enough to get help. They don't make enough to get by. They're working while their rationing their insulin and their skipping their meds because they can't afford food and healthcare at the same time.

So shame on you. Shame on you, and shame on me, and shame on each and every one of us who haven't rattled the windows of these buildings with cries of outrage at a government that thinks their office furniture is worthy of $40,000 a year and families and children aren't.

I'm not asking you to apologize for your privilege but I'm asking you to see past it. There are 46 million Americans living in poverty doing the best they know how with what they have and we, in defense of children and families, cannot accept anything less from our very own government."

In addition to Hutchison's testimony, a coalition of 26 patient organizations, including the American Cancer Society Action Network, American Heart Association, and United Way, wrote a joint letter opposing the proposed lowering of the poverty line, stating:

"The current Official Poverty Measure (OPM) is based on an old formula that already does not fully capture those living in poverty and does not accurately reflect basic household expenses for families, including by underestimating child care and housing expenses. The proposed changes to the inflation calculation would reduce the annual adjustments to the poverty measure and therefore may exacerbate existing weaknesses, putting vulnerable Americans – including those with serious and chronic diseases – at great risk. Further lowering the poverty line would also give policymakers and the public less credible information about the number and characteristics of Americans living in poverty."


This article originally appeared on 03.10.20

Sponsored

3 organic recipes that feed a family of 4 for under $7 a serving

O Organics is the rare brand that provides high-quality food at affordable prices.

A woman cooking up a nice pot of pasta.

Over the past few years, rising supermarket prices have forced many families to make compromises on ingredient quality when shopping for meals. A recent study published by Supermarket News found that 41% of families with children were more likely to switch to lower-quality groceries to deal with inflation.

By comparison, 29% of people without children have switched to lower-quality groceries to cope with rising prices.

Despite the current rising costs of groceries, O Organics has enabled families to consistently enjoy high-quality, organic meals at affordable prices for nearly two decades. With a focus on great taste and health, O Organics offers an extensive range of options for budget-conscious consumers.

O Organics launched in 2005 with 150 USDA Certified Organic products but now offers over 1,500 items, from organic fresh fruits and vegetables to organic dairy and meats, organic cage-free certified eggs, organic snacks, organic baby food and more. This gives families the ability to make a broader range of recipes featuring organic ingredients than ever before.


“We believe every customer should have access to affordable, organic options that support healthy lifestyles and diverse shopping preferences,” shared Jennifer Saenz, EVP and Chief Merchandising Officer at Albertsons, one of many stores where you can find O Organics products. “Over the years, we have made organic foods more accessible by expanding O Organics to every aisle across our stores, making it possible for health and budget-conscious families to incorporate organic food into every meal.”

With some help from our friends at O Organics, Upworthy looked at the vast array of products available at our local store and created some tasty, affordable and healthy meals.

Here are 3 meals for a family of 4 that cost $7 and under, per serving. (Note: prices may vary by location and are calculated before sales tax.)

O Organic’s Tacos and Refried Beans ($6.41 Per Serving)

Few dishes can make a family rush to the dinner table quite like tacos. Here’s a healthy and affordable way to spice up your family’s Taco Tuesdays.

Prep time: 2 minutes

Cook time: 20 minutes

Total time: 22 minutes

Ingredients:

1 lb of O Organics Grass Fed Ground Beef ($7.99)

1 packet O Organics Taco Seasoning ($2.29)

O Organics Mexican-Style Cheese Blend Cheese ($4.79)

O Organics Chunky Salsa ($3.99)

O Organics Taco Shells ($4.29)

1 can of O Organics Refried Beans ($2.29)

Instructions:

1. Cook the ground beef in a skillet over medium heat until thoroughly browned; remove any excess grease.

2. Add 1 packet of taco seasoning to beef along with water [and cook as directed].

3. Add taco meat to the shell, top with cheese and salsa as desired.

4. Heat refried beans in a saucepan until cooked through, serve alongside tacos, top with cheese.

tacos, o organics, family recipesO Organics Mexican-style blend cheese.via O Organics

O Organics Hamburger Stew ($4.53 Per Serving)

Busy parents will love this recipe that allows them to prep in the morning and then serve a delicious, slow-cooked stew after work.

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 7 hours

Total time: 7 hours 15 minutes

Servings: 4

Ingredients:

1 lb of O Organics Grass Fed Ground Beef ($7.99)

1 ½ lbs O Organics Gold Potatoes ($4.49)

3 O Organics Carrots ($2.89)

1 tsp onion powder

I can O Organics Tomato Paste ($1.25)

2 cups water

1 yellow onion diced ($1.00)

1 clove garlic ($.50)

1 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

2 tsp Italian seasoning or oregano

Instructions:

1. Cook the ground beef in a skillet over medium heat until thoroughly browned; remove any excess grease.

2. Transfer the cooked beef to a slow cooker with the potatoes, onions, carrots and garlic.

3. Mix the tomato paste, water, salt, pepper, onion powder and Italian seasoning in a separate bowl.

4. Drizzle the mixed sauce over the ingredients in the slow cooker and mix thoroughly.

5. Cover the slow cooker with its lid and set it on low for 7 to 8 hours, or until the potatoes are soft. Dish out into bowls and enjoy!

potatoes, o organics, hamburger stewO Organics baby gold potatoes.via O Organics


O Organics Ground Beef and Pasta Skillet ($4.32 Per Serving)

This one-pan dish is for all Italian lovers who are looking for a saucy, cheesy, and full-flavored comfort dish that takes less than 30 minutes to prepare.

Prep time: 2 minutes

Cook time: 25 minutes

Total time: 27 minutes

Servings: 4

Ingredients:

1 lb of O Organics Grass Fed Ground Beef ($7.99)

1 tbsp. olive oil

2 tsp dried basil

1 tsp garlic powder

1 can O Organics Diced Tomatoes ($2.00)

1 can O Organics Tomato Sauce ($2.29)

1 tbsp O Organics Tomato Paste ($1.25)

2 1/4 cups water

2 cups O Organics Rotini Pasta ($3.29)

1 cup O Organics Mozzarella cheese ($4.79)

Instructions:

1. Brown ground beef in a skillet, breaking it up as it cooks.

2. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and garlic powder

3. Add tomato paste, sauce and diced tomatoes to the skillet. Stir in water and bring to a light boil.

4. Add pasta to the skillet, ensuring it is well coated. Cover and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

5. Remove the lid, sprinkle with cheese and allow it to cool.

o organics, tomato basil pasta sauce, olive oilO Organics tomato basil pasta sauce and extra virgin olive oil.via O Organics

This could be the guest house.


Inequality has gotten worse than you think.

An investigation by former "Daily Show" correspondent Hasan Minhaj is still perfectly apt and shows that the problem isn't just your classic case of "the rich get richer and the poor get poorer."


As much as we hear about wealth inequality these days, one disparity remains mostly ignored: the gap between the wealthy and the ridiculously wealthy.

Minhaj spoke to Richard Reeves, an economist with the Brookings Institute, who painted a dark picture:

wealth, comedy, Hasan Minhaj

Wealth inequality on the rise.

All GIFs via Comedy Central.

The study Reeves refers to points to the growing wealth of the top 10th of the top 1%:

"The rise of wealth inequality is almost entirely due to the rise of the top 0.1% wealth share, from 7% in 1979 to 22% in 2012 — a level almost as high as in 1929. The bottom 90% wealth share first increased up to the mid-1980s and then steadily declined."

And no one's paid any attention.

Between the cries of the 45.3 million people in poverty and a dwindling middle class inevery state, the voice of the average millionaire is all but drowned out.

the one percent, inequality, investment

Millionaires unconcerned with financial disparity.

All GIFs via Comedy Central.

But not all millionaires are worried about growing inequality in the top 1%.

In his search for a concerned millionaire, Minhaj met Morris Pearl, a retired investment banking director and member of an organization called The Patriotic Millionaires. Minhaj was baffled by what Pearl had to say:

resources, rich, Ronald Reagan

Investment banking pays well.

All GIFs via Comedy Central.

What about trickle-down economics?

Trickle-down theory was popularized under Ronald Reagan's presidency. The idea was that clearing a path for the rich to make more money would spur more private investment, which would lead to more jobs and higher wages for all workers.

tax breaks, income, classism

Attempting the preach the reverse.

All GIFs via Comedy Central.

Reagan put trickle-down theory into practice in two basic ways: by lowering taxes for the wealthy and by freezing wages for the poor.

In 1981, he cut the top marginal income tax rate — which only applies to the highest-income households — from 70% to 50%. Then in 1986, he more than doubled-down by slashing the rate to 28%. (The current rate is 39.6%.) And under Reagan's leadership, the minimum wage was frozen, even as costs of living were rising.

Pearl and other so-called Patriotic Millionaires think top one-percenters like themselves should pay more taxes.

trickle-down theory, financial institutions, comedy show

Making rich people richer.

All GIFs via Comedy Central.

Not only that, they believe raising the minimum wage is critical to reducing inequality.

OK, maybe not everyone — including millionaires — are convinced that giving more money to the rich will fix the economy. So why do our policies do just the opposite?


This article originally appeared on 3.23.15

Images provided by P&G

Three winners will be selected to receive $1000 donated to the charity of their choice.

True

Doing good is its own reward, but sometimes recognizing these acts of kindness helps bring even more good into the world. That’s why we’re excited to partner with P&G again on the #ActsOfGood Awards.

The #ActsOfGood Awards recognize individuals who actively support their communities. It could be a rockstar volunteer, an amazing community leader, or someone who shows up for others in special ways.

Do you know someone in your community doing #ActsOfGood? Nominate them between April 24th-June 3rdhere.Three winners will receive $1,000 dedicated to the charity of their choice, plus their story will be highlighted on Upworthy’s social channels. And yes, it’s totally fine to nominate yourself!

We want to see the good work you’re doing and most of all, we want to help you make a difference.

While every good deed is meaningful, winners will be selected based on how well they reflect Upworthy and P&G’s commitment to do #ActsOfGood to help communities grow.

That means be on the lookout for individuals who:

Strengthen their community

Make a tangible and unique impact

Go above and beyond day-to-day work

The #ActsOfGood Awards are just one part of P&G’s larger mission to help communities around the world to grow. For generations, P&G has been a force for growth—making everyday products that people love and trust—while also being a force for good by giving back to the communities where we live, work, and serve consumers. This includes serving over 90,000 people affected by emergencies and disasters through the Tide Loads of Hope mobile laundry program and helping some of the millions of girls who miss school due to a lack of access to period products through the Always #EndPeriodPoverty initiative.

Visit upworthy.com/actsofgood and fill out the nomination form for a chance for you or someone you know to win. It takes less than ten minutes to help someone make an even bigger impact.

Friendship

American coworkers surprise grieving Māori man with haka after he missed family funeral

He was stuck in America for his grandmother's funeral so his friends brought New Zealand to the states.

Representative photo Gary Stockbridge|Get Archive

American friends learn haka for grieving Māori man

It's not easy living away from family, especially when you live in a completely different country. The distance can become increasingly more difficult to adjust to when tragedy strikes your family back home. It can be cost prohibitive to fly back home and depending on your employer's attendance policy, it may be nearly impossible.

Jarom Ngakuru recently faced this very situation. The New Zealander of Māori descent is living in the United States while his family still resides in his home country. Unfortunately, when Ngakuru's grandmother died, he was unable to make the trip back to the island to give his proper goodbye.

Not being able to attend his grandmother's funeral left him sad and broken. He wanted nothing more than to be there with his family. Ngakuru's friends knew how important it was for him to send his grandmother off properly so the group of American colleagues worked in secret to learn the haka.


Haka is a traditional dance performed by Māori people for important events like weddings, funerals, and significant life events as a sign of respect. The dance has been known to bring viewers to tears, and this haka is doing the same. Not just because of the haka itself, but because of everything that went into a group of American men learning a dance from another culture to honor their friend and his grandmother.

Ngakuru uploaded the video to his TikTok page with the caption, "Hardest part about living in America is that we live so far away. I couldn't make it home for my nan's funeral and I was BROKEN! So my boys at work learned the haka without me knowing and brought home to me."

See why commenters could not stop crying below:

@jaromngakuru

Hardest part about living in america 🇺🇸 is that we live so far away. I couldnt make it home for my nans funeral and i was BROKEN! so my boys at work learned the haka without me knowing and brought home to me 🇳🇿🏠 #haka #grateful #maori #newzealand #brothers #fyp #foryou

"I don't think they even understand how beautiful of an act this is," one person writes.

"There is so much depth of emotion attached to the Haka I uncontrollably cry every time. This was beautiful," another says.

"Well I'm sobbing like a baby in my office now," a commenter reveals.

"You can feel the mana [spiritual power] and the aroha [love]they have for you they know your mamae [hurt], what a beautiful tribute to you and our culture. Arohanui [deep affection] for your loss," someone else writes.

Ngakuru explains in the comments that it's his brother-in-law, who is Tongan, leading the chant. He is also the one that taught their friends the haka in a single day. What an impressive show of love for their grieving friend. There's no doubt that Ngakuru will remember this for the rest of his life.

It's rare enough to capture one antler being shed

For those not well versed in moose facts, the shedding of antlers is normally a fairly lengthy process. It happens only once a year after mating season and usually consists of a moose losing one antler at a time.

It’s incredibly rare for a bull moose to lose both at the same time—and even more rare that someone would actually catch it on film.

That’s why shed hunter (yes, that’s a real term) and woodsman Derek Burgoyne calls his footage of the phenomenon a “one-in-a-million” shot.



According to The Guardian, Burgoyne was flying his drone through a remote patch of forest in Canada when he spotted three moose in a clearing. His drone followed one of the bulls, who began doing the wobbly little shake thing that signals these antlers are going bye-bye.

Burgoyne knew he had to keep his camera on the moment—but he had no idea that he’d hit the jackpot.

Watch below:

It’s hard to tell which is more fun to watch— the super rare moment in nature or Burgoyne’s pure passion for his hobby.

“I shook a little bit. It was an adrenaline rush for sure,“ he told CBC News, sharing that he has previously found hundreds of shed antlers in his life.

Antler hunting has become a hot and profitable pastime over the past few years, although Burgoyne affirms that his shed hunting ambitions are born from a desire for well-being, not monetary gain.

“I enjoy being in the woods. It’s great exercise and it’s fun tracking the moose through the winter and looking for their sheds in the spring. Each one you find feels like the first one. It never gets old,” he told The Guardian.

Well Derek Burgoyne, thank you for doing what you love. Thanks to your passion, we too can share this once-in-a-lifetime moment. Here’s to good moose news!


This article originally appeared on 1.20.23

Joy

17 non-Americans share the 'most American moment’ they experienced visiting the States

"I was on Main Street USA in Magic Kingdom when in the distance, we could see one of the Space Shuttles being launched into the Sky."

Three things that are as American as they get.

For people from foreign countries, visiting America can feel like stepping into a movie. Many people across the world have grown up with American movies, TV shows, music, and even products, creating a kind of proxy culture through which they experience a slice of American life.

That’s why when they visit America for the first time, it can be a surreal experience. Everyday scenes that Americans take for granted—such as the sight of a classic yellow school bus, a waitress who calls you “Honey,” or a game of beer pong with red Solo cups—can feel like a moment straight out of a Hollywood script.

America is also full of characters that people may not find abroad, from sheriffs wearing cowboy hats to mustachioed bikers and people who really, really love guns.


A Redditor named JeffRyan1 asked non-Americans on the AskReddit subforum to share the most American moment they experienced when visiting the United States. It was a fun post where folks shared the people, places, and things that they’ll never forget after visiting the land of the free and home of the brave.

Here are 17 of the “most American moments” non-Americans have had in the States.

1. The most American day ever

"Several years ago, one of my friends reached out because a new international student was joining a local college, and their parents were hoping to find somebody in the US to help them out. The first day they came to visit us, a couple of major coincidences created a weirdly over-the-top American experience.

Based on talks before they arrived, the two biggest things they wanted to do was walk around the downtown area to make sure it was safe and get some American BBQ.

We went to a local BBQ restaurant that serves a huge family-style meal on a giant shovel (it's called KCs Rib Shack in Manchester, NH). The dad was absolutely blown away and took like 30 photos before we could eat. We then went downtown but didn't realize that there was both a classic car show downtown and an Elvis impersonator competition going on. this family that had never been outside of Japan ate brisket out of a shovel then immediately walked around looking at classic muscle cars while dozens of dudes dressed like Elvis walked around. We kept trying to explain that it was an abnormally 'American' day, but the family was just so blown away and overwhelmed the whole time. The last time I talked to the student, she said her dad still talks about the BBQ shovel, car, Elvis day all the time." — WoogyChuck

2. Never forget

"Dude took his shirt off in line at an amusement park to reveal no less than six 9/11 tattoos." — Peskieyesterday

3. Peak Florida

"I was on Main Street USA in Magic Kingdom, when in the distance we could see one of the space shuttles being launched into the Sky. The barbershop quartet stopped, turned to it and started singing the 'Star Spangled Banner,' and a military dad and his two kids stood straight, rooted to the spot whilst they saluted until it went out of sight." —Eezgorriseadback

"If this is actually true this has to be the best answer. That reads like a schlocky movie script—wild." — HankSaggittarius

4. The XL coffee

"American immigrant from Europe… On my first week in the US, i walked into one of those chain coffee shops and ordered a coffee. When prompted for a size, I pondered that I had not slept that much (jet lag) and selected an extra large. You know what we call those extra-large coffee mugs in the old country? Buckets. What I got was a bucket of coffee." — Milespoints

5. Pride of the frontier

"An old couple running a family run horse ranch, talking about their history, how their great grandparents acquired that bit of land, while their two daughters and son taught us horseback riding. The way they talked about nature, freedom, their dreams and aspirations, so different to our home country and our own culture, while still sounding faintly familiar, as if he was talking about a really old dream I used to have. It’s hard for me to put into words, but that scene, the surroundings, the air, every sensation, never left me, and but for a brief moment, allowed me to kind of understand the Americans a little more. I truly hope they all are doing well and that America never loses this special way of striving for a new frontier. Sounds probably ridiculous, but it was very special to me." — Parthorax

6. Breakfast of champions

"Montana after driving across the Canadian border: Eating in a breakfast diner that actually had stacks of pancakes with the little square of butter on top, just like I had always seen in movies. The waitress was pouring coffee into everyone's cups, talking about the 'potata salad' and saying 'sir' and 'ma'am' after every sentence. It was so quaint. Then I noticed a guy with a gun on his belt, wearing a shirt that read, 'I'd rather be a Mormon than a Moron.' The amount of Jesus and Stars and Stripes on that one little drive was peak America, from my outsider perspective." — yycokwithme

7. Chicken-friend bacon

"Had chicken-fried bacon at some breakfast BBQ place on the I5 between Seattle and Portland. Was it delicious? Yes. Did it probably take at least a few days off my life? Also yes. And it was just the starter to my biscuits and gravy." — parrallel_jay

8. Ready, aim, fire

"Being able to shoot weapons at a gun range despite being on a mere tourist visa." — Throwawayconcern2023

"The first time I, a Canadian, ever fired a gun was in a range in Oklahoma City. I was on a road trip and my boyfriend at the time (from LA) suggested it, so we walked in and asked for the most comically large guns they would give us. They handed us AK-47s and a key to the range. Didn't even ask to see ID." — Safadancer

9. The big yellow bus

"The yellow school-buses. I felt like I was in a movie." — SunnyTopHat268

"I hear red Solo cups have the same effect." — JunkMail0604

10. Deer service

"Going into a Savalot supermarket and discovering the meat counter had an option for you to drop off a deer carcass to get it prepared by the butcher." — Pickwick-the-Dodo

11. A monster of a night

"Went to watch Monster Trucks at the Georgia Dome (RIP) with family during the winter. We were a group of 6 brown people in coats and beanies and gloves amongst 59,994 rednecks wearing trucker caps, shorts, and sleeveless flannel shirts. Had my first Bud Light and funnel cake. What a time." — Honeycomb286

12. Grocery sore

"Formerly a non-American, i noticed was how grocery store employees at the cash register are not allowed to sit." — Ghengiskhan_1

13. Chatty Americans

"I think for me was noticing that strangers can randomly strike up a conversation with you. I've been in this country for more than 20 years now so I'm used to it. But I remember being weirded out by it before." — Kororon

"I've lived here my whole life and still find it awkward and unusual." — Mr-Whitecotton

14. Born to wild

"As if going to the NASCAR wasn't 'Merican enough, before going into the stadium, my mate and I had a walk around the fan park they had built outside it. Within 5 minutes of being there, I heard an engine being revved up to within an inch of its life, and the smell of petrol filled the air. I turned around, and this engine was on board a Harley Davidson three-wheeler, on which there was this big f*** off drum kit built onto it, driven by a bloke in full leathers, bandana, shades, the lot. All of a sudden 'Born To Be Wild' blasted out of the speakers also attached to it, and the bloke started playing the drums along to the tune, and started badly singing the lyrics, revving the engine every so often in random places. I felt like I was American myself by the end of it." — eezgorriseeadback

15. What a hamburger's all about

"A bite into an In-N-Out Burger. my sister couldn't believe that I ate a burger at their place every day for 3 weeks. Feel free to invite me for a few weeks, very happy to come back to Thousand Oaks, California, and we will indulge in the burgers from In-N-Out. I'm from Germany, flight is on me." — Seevetaler

16. Hollywood sunset

"I was driving through LA (from near Hollywood to LAX) in a pickup with the sun setting and listening to '80s/'90s hip hop on the radio. I felt like I was in GTA." — Criminalsunrise

17. Diner waitresses

"A diner where a lady walks around with a large pot of coffee and refills everyone's cup." — Y0rin

Maddie Cable turns her brace into armor.

High school is tough enough for the average 17-year-old girl. Anyone who stands out is a target for whispers and hushed laughter in the in hallways or, at worst, public ridicule.

That's why Maddie Cable, 17, from Charlotte, North Carolina, was less than enthusiastic after being told she needed to wear a large plastic brace to school for at least six weeks.


Cable was in a car accident with her mother in November, and she fractured her T12 vertebra. After doctors stabilized it with rods and pins, Maddie was fitted with the massive brace.

modern medicine, high school, steampunk, cosplay

Maddie Cable stands with aid of walker and plastic brace.

via Epbot

"At first, I felt very self-conscious about the brace," Cable told Buzzfeed. Then her friend Sarah Chako had the brilliant idea of turning the bland-looking brace into a badass steampunk armor corset using metallic spray paint, gear-shaped stencils, acrylic paint, and metal framing trim. Steampunk is a sci-fi/retro style that combines futuristic steam-powered designs and American "Wild West" aesthetics.

creatives, art, costumes, friends, collaboration

Maddie models the super-cool-transformation of her plastic brace.

via Epbot

"I enjoy wearing it now," Cable said. "It makes me feel more confident." Her mother is pleased, too. "People are initiating conversation instead of just staring," Cable's mom, Linda, told HuffPost. "She feels like they see her, and not just her injury."

Cable's story is a great example of what you can do with some creative thinking, good friends, and steampunk power. She turned a depressing situation into an opportunity to express herself.

This article originally appeared on 09.12.17