Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thankful, Hopeful on Thanksgiving Day

November 24, 2011 - What am I thankful for this Thanksgiving? I am thankful for the abilities and blessing that God has given me. Wonderful parents (RIP), a good upbringing, great friends throughout the years, the extraordinary experiences I’ve had in my 56 years, and the privelege of being an American.

I am thankful, too, for those of you who have literally helped me to survive over the 12 months. You have shown that you're not just "Facebook friends," but actual, real friends by donating something to my PayPal account. And, of course, I am thankful for ramen noodles and McDonald’s Dollar menu!

Your generosity has allowed me to eat now and then and to pay a bit of rent.

Without that help, added to the little bit I make now and then from online writing, ad sales and graphics work, I might well be dead today. I am thankful to be alive still.

I am thankful that I had a job interview yesterday, by phone, with a department of the State of Wisconsin. It was set up through a temp agency that I registered with back in late July, shortly after relocating back to Madison, WI after becoming homeless in mid-July, 2011.

I spoke with the temp agency this afternoon. No decision has been made, and with the holiday tomorrow I won't hear until at least Friday whether I got the job. Please pray that I do.

I've been looking for work now for more than two years, as have a few million other Americans. I've been more fortunate than many. I lost my Chicago apartment in mid-July because I could not make the rent any longer. Unlike many, though, I am not sleeping under a bridge yet, and that's something to be thankful for as well.

 In preparation for my new homelessness, I packed what I could into a backpack and slung my laptop over my shoulder. I went up to Madison (where I was born, raised and graduated college), because I did not want to be living on the dirty streets of Chicago.

I spent my first night in Madison in a men's shelter, then a couple of nights on the street. I managed to find a room for $300 for 30 days, but that ended on August 22, when the building reverted to students-only for the start of the new school year.

Not able to find another place to stay, I went homeless again, but for only two nights until the brother and sister in law of a friend took me in. They - and I - are in a sleep suburb 15 from Madison. I've been camping in their basement for $300 a month since late August.

There was a tradeoff involved in that move, however.

My choice in late August was this: Remain on the street in Madison which is dangerous even in Madison and where sleeping is very difficult even in good weather, or move to the suburb, where job prospects a bleak. I chose bleak hope over living like a rat. There is no public transportation from here to Madison, and not much hiring going on, which makes finding a job difficult, and makes interviewing virtually impossible.

I've applied to a number of places, such as a pizzeria, a convenience mart, a video store. I've gotten no calls back from those places, but after badgering the pizza place he agreed to let me come in to talk with him. That was three weeks ago. During the interview he asked me if working in the pizza kitchen would be my dream job.

I kept a straight face but answered honestly, "No, but right now my only dream is to have job." As I was leaving, he said, "Maybe I'll have you come in a few days next week, see how you like it." He hasn't called. Perhaps he didn't want an old guy. In his mid-30s, he asked me if I would have a problem with a boss who is younger than I am. I told him no, I've had younger bosses and it's not an issue for me. In hindsight I realize the guy was determined to not hire me because I am "over qualified" (a phrase I detest). He didn't actually say that, but the "dream job" question gave it away. Over qualified and under fed, that's me.

With only $46.00 in the bank as I write this, I don't know how much longer I can stay in this basement. I was able to give my hosts only $200 for November so far, a hundred dollars short. In exchange, they've said I could make up the difference by helping with household chores such as laundry, dishes and general cleaning. I've been doing that, of course, and they're very nice people, a young couple, but things are tight for them too. I don't want to become a burden on them. I wonder when and what I will eat next, where I will or can go next, and how I will get there.

Perhaps I made a fatal error in staying in Wisconsin for the winter. Perhaps I should have headed south to the Gulf Coast when I had the money to buy a one-way bus ticket. My only hope now is for another of God's many little miracles, some help from friends, and landing that job with the State.

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving, then, and I have volunteered to help clean up after the annual free Thanksgiving Feast at a local VFW. There will be free turkey and all the trimmings, for which I am thankful in advance.

A small contribution from you would help me hold on until I (finally) find work. If you're willing to give a buck or two, please find my PayPal donate button at the top of the sidebars here.

God bless you, and Happy Thanksgiving.