Monday, August 2, 2010

This is What It Feels Like

I remember back in the day, when I used to team up with my bestfriend. We'd put on our best, hop on the bus, and hit the town plazas, and then the local shopping mall. We were in high school. Things were much simpler then. All we needed to do was return the applications that we'd collected on a previous trip, in the manager's hands if possible, and wait on our call backs. And there were always call backs.

I was a retail girl, an exterior painter, at the same time. I was around 15, and had gotten a summer job painting houses. It was a great job, and I continued for 2 more summers after that. That first summer, I found myself clocking in at 6:30am and clocking out at 9pm. Right after I started my summer job as a painter, I had gotten a call back from the Gap. I didn't want to turn down a regular job just because I had a summer job, so I worked both. I'd paint from 6:30am to 3pm, and work the Baby Gap section and fitting rooms of the Gap from 4:30pm 'til 9pm. I worked at that Gap store, for $6.25 an hour, until the location closed about 8 months later.

And later on, it was Longs Drugs. I worked a mean green smock, and was a lightening fast cashier, who knew her shit, and was comfortable being a good employee, but not comfortable catching 2 buses, taking 2 hours to get home, late at night, in a rough neighborhood. The night I was approached by a man in a car, was the night I had to quit that job. And the day my manager offered to coordinate my schedule with the schedule of a friend who had a car was the day I went back. And the day it became too much for said friend to offer me a ride, I quit for the last time.

I've never not wanted to work. I've never not pulled out all the stops to get a job. But seems like I've always, always had to sacrifice, or be sacrificed when it comes to work. Quit for lack of resources, be laid off due to site closure or site greed, pass on working altogether because my academics and being present for my child had to be put ahead of earning an income.

Its been 8+ years since those high school days, 2 years and 4 months since I was laid off from my last job, and nearly 8 months since I left school. Its a lot less simplistic these days, and the sacrifices are greater. There is more at stake today than there was back then. I am suffering more, and in a multitude of different ways today than I was back then. This current experience, current state of being, is unlike anything I have ever known. Today, the resumes and cover letters have replaced those two paged retail applications, car keys have replaced the typical 31-day youth bus pass, and the call backs have fell completely silent. Yes, the economy, I know. However, I still feel like I am that same high schooler, trying to rise above, trying to be just a little less poor, except this time, I'm not the only one who is hungry.

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