Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Proletarian Aspirations

I've decided it's time for me to try to go back to work. I'm hooked up with an "employment specialist" at Central City Concern's Supported Employment program and have already gone to one interview and am balking at a temporary assignment as an evening desk clerk at the Helen Swindells, a low-income housing building downtown that's one of those places where people with severe mental health problems are washed up in a sort of last-chance tidal pool by social workers desperate to keep them off the streets; people who can't even be housed in my old building! I wouldn't get off until midnight, which means instead of getting only six hours of sleep a night at best I'll be hoping for four. And then there's the matter of the pre-employment urinalysis, which I can't possibly pass at this time; frankly, the idea of having to just to earn minimum wage galls me considerably — give me a liveable wage, benefits, and a union card, and I'll think about it!

It boils down to the cruel reality that homelessness makes working inordinately difficult; why do you think so many of the guys who work the carnivals look like they just rolled out of a box car the night before? In fact, if I hadn't blown this month's food stamps on pâté and brie and a pile of microwave burritos and spicy kimchi ramen bowls I'd be down at the Waterfront Park right now, hoping to get a couple weeks' work scanning tickets for rides. Put simply, you need sleep, you need to eat, you need to keep yourself clean, and you need to be able to get around; problems for neighborhood baristas and commuters that are magnified logarithmically from inconvenience to often utterly impossible. If I were still selling my food stamps and didn't have a locker and shower access at the Friendly House I'd be totally screwed, but even as things currently stand I'm pretty limited in my options. I'm going to Labor Ready to see if I don't end up wasting two hours of my time sitting in a lobby drinking crappy coffee, getting nowhere. Small wonder even those determined not to sink into stagnation eventually end up giving up on the idea of working regular jobs: after enough years of street-life problems of dealing with the elements, thievery, police harassment, poor diet and sleep, etc. being compounded by additional woes like not being able to find somewhere to store belongings securely in time for job interviews that frown on prospective employees lugging giant backpacks around like urban sherpas, and having to quit good jobs because of fallout from the homeless lifestyle, only to have to resort to taking on demeaning and ball-busting work for chump change as a carnie or day labor wage slave ... who would want to keep that up? That's what I ended up doing; I haven't worked for six years.

Canning just doesn't cut it, not unless I push a shopping cart for a lion's share of the day. Those Burnside Cadillacs aren't just negative-attention magnets, they're fucking LOUD! Especially when you have a bunch of glass bottles in them. Still, I'm going to need to start pushing those pretty regularly because I need to bring home more than five dollars a day if I'm going to accomplish more than pay for my locker every month, recoup my inevitable street-gear losses, and suck down a twenty-four of some crappy malt liquor to ease my bedeviled mind down into Erebus' quiet halls each night. But, I will give the local Labor Ready office a try as soon as I can bring myself to get up at five; and I will continue to work with my "employment specialist" and guardedly hope she can find something part-time that will work for me. My ultimate goal is to land a reasonably secure steady part-time job before I get into housing, so that way I won't have to worry so much about the unavoidable shrinking of social services budgets in the future causing me to get thrown out of subsidized housing; not to mention I'll be doing something constructive with my time and be free from the tyranny of Home Forward's Byzantine income-reporting rent policies that frustrate welfare hotel rats' efforts at returning to the work force through day labor and temp work; another part of why I haven't worked in six years.


  1. Just checked out Rojo's page. Such an adorable critter. What a sweet face! Makes me wish I had my very own therapy llama. :-) Anyhoo...have you visited the Slavery Ready office yet?

    1. No. As it turns out, I'll have to wake up at 4:30 AM to get there by 6:00 AM. Even if I relocate to somewhere out in the area I don't know how feasible it will be for me to even bother with it. I guess you're just not supposed to even try to do anything to improve your lot when you're a bum.