Just over two years here. Just over a year in this specific place. Another day older, another day of more of the same. Wake up to some craptasitic reality court room television show that does not really reflect how the world actually functions, another day of someone complaining about how the bathroom smells, I walk up and check it only to find someone used one of the toilets, and didn't flush it.
Another day of filling out applications for a real job, then hoping I can scrape together the gas money to work them. Another day of staring at the "wall" wondering what I will be able to dig up for dinner, my sole meal of the day. Basically, this is my Groundhogs Day, the same day stuck on indefinite repeat, no escape, just the same repeat of the events. Wake up, clean bathrooms, get online, check email, check for messages, get on Facebook, maybe write a blog entry/short story of some kind/a script for a web show, find something to preoccupy my mind until I am tired, and go back to bed. Occasionally mixed in are a trip to town, someone shooting the cat. Living the high life, one in which I would rather just sleep.
I have often reflected on the past, now twisted into a nightmarish hellscape of what it really was. Even the good times are dulled in a monochrome tint. Even now, when I had a job, things were pretty lousy. By standards of today, they were the golden years. I got up, went to work, came home went to bed, rinse and repeat. Sure my situation is drastically different, but the events are really the same. What, you thought that when I had a job that things were so much better. Sure, I could pay most of my bills on time, I had to juggle things around paychecks, I mean one credit card one payday, the next the following payday, and thats how things worked. I didn't buy gifts for others birthdays, I couldn't really do it. I think I splurged on the holidays, buying my Mom whatever used DVD's of Stephen King movies I could find cheap. For myself, usually a book or two, maybe some other used DVD's, for my Dad socks and underwear, shirts.
I had no wife, no children. Caught up in the Groundhogs Day effect, rinse repeat, ad nauseam. Get up, go to work, come home, go to bed. Occasionally it was broken up by a trip to town, a paper here or there, maybe scribing some ideas for something to write. Paychecks were gone before they cleared the bank. And I would remember the days before.
Sitting down in a barn pulling goat teats, listening to a CD on the boombox. I was poor then, now that I think about it. I was dirt poor, but paper rich. I always had money in my pocket, just in case. I had money in the bank from various ventures. Enough so, that I was able to go pick myself out a new truck in 2007. Before that I drove around in a sixteen year old car. I bought nearly the cheapest truck they had, not because I was "cheap", not because I didn't want a fully loaded truck, but I was responsible, I knew I would have to finance most of it. I also knew the life the truck would have, and fully loaded trucks on a farm get scratched, dented, and the carpet gets stained with cow shit, just as equally as the cheaper versions. I had massive issues with it, and the company in question took it back, gave me another one, but it added to the total I owed, it wasn't much of an issue.
But the farm started going down hill, there were many reasons for it. I spent money I didn't really have to get my 04 mining card. I spent a few weeks trying to get a job in mining. I talk shit about it today, and I have good reason, but I was always raised that a job is a job, and if you have one you can maintain or build if you are careful enough. It only took two weeks to realize that mining wasn't going to pan out. Needing to ensure that I had something stable until the farm pulled out, I stopped in at a small office, grabbed an application, and filled it out, as I had done in many places. I was called later that evening, and I took a job working security.
And in some weird order, we are here. I am writing this, you might be reading it. I am tired. At one time I was a face of the working poor. That guy you encountered at the store with a poor mans wad of cash, someone who was working his ass off for just the basics, but I had a nice truck. Now I am a face in the mass of the former working poor and middle class that is staring blankly at an application. I had many wants in my life, but most of them were good things, not just for me and my family. The new truck made me happy, I got that off the sweat of my brow, the blood I let working, countless hours of shoving shit, carrying around bags of grain and bails of hay. I kept it through the long hours of working nights for minimum wage, dealing with threats, destroying the thing I had struggled to get. I was twenty six by the time I bought that truck. Five years later, some other known issues within the company cropped up with mine, and for a few dollars more, I was into another new truck, but it was a hollow victory in my book.
Sure it was new, but it was a step down. Along the way I had lost many more things. I still fight, its all I have. I will eventually dig out of this, it won't be pretty, and I will have to lean on others to help me through. Funny, so many people in poverty, so many homeless. "That’s the funny thing about being poor or homeless. Everyone has an opinion on them, and sadly everyone feels entitled to share their thoughts." But they are often people talking with paper assholes as far as I am concerned. Those who have been there, would give the most help if they were fully in the clear. Most of the people that I know were homeless are still trying to outrun it. They fight and struggle just to keep from going back there.
“If you're in trouble, or hurt or need - go to the poor people. They're the only ones that'll help - the only ones.”
― John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath
It is a dark place to be poor or homeless. It sucks the joy out of the mundane things we as a race take for granted. If you eat out weekly, because you are well off enough to, enjoy it. For people in my position, and the position of people fresh from the shelters, that is a joyless experience that was unheard of. A few months ago, I gave a homeless man five dollars, my last five dollars, and told him to grab a sub at Sheetz. Instead he went to McDonalds, because he could get four meals. It was better he said than the alternative, risk getting caught stealing food from the dumpsters behind Food Lion.
Even in my state that makes me physically ill. It should make anyone with a shred of humanity ill. But, it doesn't even register. I am mostly hung up on trying to survive and get a regular paying job, you are too hung up on maintaining, and others are too hung up on getting more.