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From the Bottom Looking Up
Was Andrew Carnegie a hero? No, he was poor when he was a kid which pushed him to be rich. He invented a cheaper, faster way to make steel. His workers were underpaid, and the work place was called a death trap because it was so dangerous. He got paid almost 10,000 per day, his workers got a couple bucks per twelve hour day. He did donate his money, to people that didn't need it though. People that already had money. Carnegie told himself and others that there had to be poor people and rich people, building himself up. Maybe he knew what it was like to be poor, but he didn't die poor, he died rich. Keeping every last penny until it was of no longer use to him.
* * *
I look up at her, why do they laugh at her. They don't know, that's why. They don't know that her dad works at McDonald's and that her mom would work there, but she can't because of health issues. She buys her clothes at Goodwill, but they don't know that. They think it's her problem that she says what's on her mind. It's not her fault. Her brother has autism, and she has... something... Why am I the only one that knows this? Why am I the only one to care? My head hurts so I try to reread document 2 to answer question 1, 'What do you know?', for the both of us. No, she's smart, she is very clever, she just can't stay on topic for very long, Other things interest her. If you try to talk to her about castles, or Renaissance fairs, or some types of math, you would hold the conversation for hours. No one else knows her like I do.
How can she wake up in the morning and come to school with a smile on her face? Doesn't it hurt when people laugh at her for no reason? I couldn't stand that, I would start crying. Sometimes she freaks out, no looses control and starts screaming at us. But it's not her fault. Yes, she has anger issues, but when people constantly tease her and lie to the teacher about messing with her, and harass her, she can't control herself.
“So what do you get from this?” I say, trying not to scream from the pressure of being twenty feet under water.
“Look! This is his twin sister, but she doesn't have a mouth, just like Hello Kitty! Is it weird that I'm copying off of Hello Kitty? Hehe..” She says, not noticing that I said anything.
“No, it's cool. But what do you know from reading this?” I say, noticing how bright the room is, or is it just me, no, it’s me, I know it is.
“Well, it's saying that some people have to be poor and that it's the survival of the fittest! Who ever wrote this is an idiot!” She yelled waving a fist in the air. “'It’s beneficial!' Yeah right! Whoa!!” She falls off her seat, laughing, happy to be caught by her shoulder strap purse thing. The moment I see her fall my hands instinctively slapping onto the desk and some kind of helpless noise coming out of my mouth. I see half the class look over and I duck my head to hide my frustrated sobs. I imagine waves crashing peacefully onto jagged rocks, underneath a tall cliff, where someone would jump, to get away from life. That's not me though, don't think I would ever hurt myself in anyway. I don't know why I'm thinking of this, I need to know why I know that document 2 says what it says and why it's important. That's what I need to be thinking about.
“You okay?” I manage once she props herself back up onto her chair.
“Hehe, yeah,” She says, laughing as she steps off the best roller coaster ever. “I was caught by my bag! Good thing, eh? Hehe..” And she goes back to scribbling cartoon animals on her homework.
When we get to document 5 (of 10), she says something that will stay with me forever, I'll never forget her words, ever.
“So document 5 is talking about how Carnegie is..? Watching his money a lot, right?” I say trying to get doe with as much work as possible before lunch.
“Yeah, He's A Penny Pincher!” She announces.
“So can you write a number 5, for document 5, and a 1,2, and 3? And number 1 is that he is a penny pincher, and 2 is that he watches his money, right?” I say.
I look at her right hand, making letters barely readable. I watch as she makes each letter, very different from how I write. '2)
penny pincher' She wrote, then a three, almost under it, but off by a bit.
“Andrew Carnegie is not a hero. Not by a long shot! He was selfish and rude! I wonder what it's like to be that rich, anyway..” She said. “We'll, haha, I'm just at the bottom looking up.” She continued with a smile. From the bottom, of the 'food chain', as she put it. She knows that shes poor. She also told me she get's food from salt and light, which is free. She get's free food and everything else from Goodwill.. I don't look up for a whole minute. How can stating your at the bottom and a laugh go into the same sentence? I can only imagine how strange this girl really is, strong enough to get through the day with someone guiding you every step of the way.
You might think that having someone with you makes you weak, but facing your peers and letting them see that you can't go alone builds a different kind of strength, the kind most people don't have. The kind you get from looking up all the time, always being at the bottom, looking up.