Without Internet access, writing becomes harder and harder to do. It's about a four-mile hike to the library up hill both ways because of the mid-nineties heat. Sometimes I feel as if I'm losing it, and then sometimes I feel like I'm only beginning to get it. I made the hike the other day to check my E-mail and to reconnect with the world.
I arrived about nine in the morning and was greeted by a sign, which said, "New Wednesday hours One to Eight P.M." My first thought was, Murphy's law. I had no choice, really; the library was located between a cemetery and a pre-school, so window shopping was out of the question. It was that damn Murphy's law again, caught between where I came from and where I was going. So I found one of the most valuable commodities available to the pedestrian in Georgia. I wrangled myself the best piece of shade money could buy.
I sat myself on the curb and steeled myself for the duration. It's only four hours - no longer than "Gone with the Wind," and by the time Ashley Wilkes is home from the war there should be some more people around. You see my plan to get there early was in anticipation of a crowd. Actually, I wasn't alone; there was a steady stream of SUVs and minivans returning books in the night deposit. Then there was an equal stream of soccer moms with kids in tow who would walk to the door and read the same sign that I had, who would then turn around with a grunt or a shrug and lament their fate of loading the kids back up in the Lexus.
These people were no competition to me; they had internet access, and they were coming only to amuse themselves, and if that avenue was closed they would merely seek another amusement. After about thirty minutes a late model silver Dodge pulled in and parked at the far end of the parking lot out in the no ding zone. An African American man, maybe thirty five to forty years old, got out and started walking towards the door. As he approached me I offered, "They're not open, one o'clock."
"Oh man!" He said, "I can't go to my mother's house; she won't believe me that the library wasn't open and then she'll accuse me of not looking for work!"
"I know that story," I said. "My mother in law used to tear want ads out of the newspaper and give 'em to me, "Earn thousands! Easy work! Start Today! XYZ insurance company." He laughed because he said his mother would cut out those same ads!
I asked, "You're unemployed?"
"Yeah, I got fired from Publix for missing one too many days. But you see, I was going through a divorce."
I nodded, "I've been through a divorce. I understand; it rips your life apart."
He said, "They told me they might hire me back after a year if they need help. Then he added, "I been talking to my buddies and they've been laying off at the warehouse. I gotta find something or I'm gonna lose my car."
I explained, "I sold mine because I knew that I would lose it."
"But that's not just my ca;r that's my house." He explained, "I'm living in it and I'm all ready one payment behind. When my wife first put me out I stayed in those hotels - you know the ones. One night I went to get a coke out of the machine and the cops tackled me and I had lasers pointed at my head. The manger came out and vouched for me that I wasn't selling drugs or pimping. They grabbed me because of my car. Anyone staying in that hotel with a nice car must be selling drugs! But then he lamented, "then my money ran out and I had to start sleeping in it."
"I applied for unemployment in Atlanta, but it was like New Year's Eve in Times Square. Hundreds of people all asking for help with half a dozen workers who just didn't care. I asked a woman if she could help me with the computer, and she said, "sure" then she walked away and never came back. I went up to Gainesville and it wasn't that bad. I've been waiting on a check for a month and every time I call them I'm told next week. The sticker on my tag is expired, so I'm afraid to drive around any more than I have too."
I've been doing warehouse work for ten years, so I went through the industrial parks looking for warehouse work, and the answer is always the same "We're not hiring." I talked to this guy in a cabinet shop and they were looking for a truck driver and we really hit it off. He said, "I think you'll be perfect; if you don't hear from me by Friday call me. Man, I was so sure I had that job. When I called Friday the guy was like, "Well I talked to my partner and well we're going to hold off for now, but I know they hired someone else."
I told him of my own a similar circumstance of going through the first interview and then the second interview with the big boss. I was called back for a third interview and I so certain that I would be starting work I brought my lunch. As I approached the front door it was locked with and orange sticker over the lock. "Closed by order of the Georgia Dept. of Revenue."
We abandoned the shade and headed to the front door and gradually, one by one, the crowd increased. As it neared one o'clock I counted fifty people. Fifty people on a Wednesday morning, well afternoon. We continued talking when Don said, "I thought that Obama was going to do something, but he's just another politician.