Out Of Poverty, Part 1: Angry Debtees
Job Hunting In a Recession
An old friend, one I haven't heard from in a long time, recently sent me an email demanding that I start paying her back the $1000 or so that I owe her.
I thought, With what? For the last two and a half years I have scrambled about from month to month, working a variety of part-time and temporary jobs, as well as borrowing money from friends and strangers, in order to pay rent on a tiny vintage apartment in a sketchy Chicago neighborhood.
When I explained this to her, she said, in essence, that she didn't believe me. "It isn't that hard to get a job!" she wrote.
I realized at that point that I had been remiss in keeping her informed of my progress towards climbing out of poverty. She reasoned that, given my intelligence, education and social skills, I must not be working hard enough to find work. "Looking for a job is a full-time job!" she said. "You have to do it for eight hours a day, five days a week!"
I replied, in frustration, that all I do is work and look for work. I have no social life except for those rare occasions when a friend treats me to a movie. I live with two cats. To stay fit, I do push-ups and sit-ups in my apartment and go jogging in a nearby graveyard — one of the few outdoor areas in the city where I don't have to worry about being bumped into or run over. I joke that at least, if I keel over during my run, they won't have to drag me very far.
And speaking of laughs, I had a good one today during my eight hours of work (looking for work) when I came across this stat — among Americans between the ages of 50 and 75, the unemployed suffer heart attacks at a rate that is 35% more than employed people with similar risk factors. Thank Christ I quit smoking on my 50th birthday!