I am a college dropout. Lack of imagination in the 1960s has led to poverty in 2010. I couldn't figure out what I was doing in college, so I left. I went to secretarial school and worked in offices.
I stayed home when my kids were small. Single motherhood hit in the 80s, and I cleaned houses, did yard work, waxed cars, washed dogs, sewed, babysat; in short, I used the skills I had to make a living for myself and my children. After they got older, I worked at any job I could get. Food service at the hospital, housekeeping crew at a home for the elderly, clean room laundry, plastics plant, Goodwill, Half Price Books, fast food...and finally, I got a job doing what I had done as a hobby for years. I work for a theater costumer. Surprise, surprise--it doesn't pay a lot of money.
I quit one decent retail job (with benefits) to look after my mother-in-law, so my husband could teach without worrying about her. Now, she is dead and so is he.
I am 62 years old, and my job has no benefits. It's not even full time, so if the shop closes, I'll be unemployed without any insurance. If I wait until I'm 70 to collect Social Security, I will still get under $1000/month, because I have been underemployed all my life, with huge gaps when I stayed home to look after other people.
They say, "Well, you've got your health," which is true. So far. The knees are a little wonky and the weight is a little much, and there are a couple of spots here and there I'm keeping an eye on, but at least I don't have anything chronic and expensive, requiring medications.
So, I will keep plodding on from paycheck to paycheck and hoping for the best.
Like the rest of the 99%.