Monday, June 30, 2003

Happy Days Are Gone Again

I somehow missed this very depressing article, but luckily Susan Madrak at Suburban Guerrilla (a funny, informative and irreverent political Blog that you should all read) picked it up. (If you've read Nickel and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich, it's kind of like getting trapped in the book with no way out):

A heartbreaking story, one that's all too common these days:
He had been out of work 14 months. His unemployment benefits had long run out. His savings were gone. His retirement account was gone. Three-hundred-fifty résumés. Three responses. Zero jobs. Depression. Overeating. Thirty pounds. In 14 months, he says, he had gone from someone who would accept only a legal position, to someone who swallowed his pride and said he was willing to work for the lowly sum of $25 an hour, to someone willing to take any full-time job, to someone trying to make a skeptical woman at a temporary agency understand that a one-time lawyer would gladly take anything she had.

"I have no money, and I need food," he said that day. "So you give me anything you can."

"So you just need some cash," the woman said.

"Exactly," he said. "Cash."

"Well," the woman said, "we can do that," and soon after he had his first paying job since his layoff.

It was five days, at $8 an hour, in a distribution center. He opened boxes. He took out underwear. He sorted the underwear into piles. "I wasn't going to screw it up," he says of how diligently he did this, hoping that he would be asked back for a second week.

He wasn't.