State of the Union of Pottersville
The day after Halloween, Mr. Potter's going to be banging on our front door with his wheelchair in three weeks snarling for his rent and it won't be there. As of right now, all the money in the world is $350 in cash we have right here in the house and less than $50 in our Paypal account. We still need another $300 just to make the rent and our outstanding phone bill for the last two months is almost $105. For now, we have the auto insurance company off our backs until Thanksgiving because I decided to pay them early.
Our car keeps dying and my landlord and neighbors won't even give us a jump start when we need it and I can't afford to replace the shitty battery I had installed just six months ago at a cost of $145.
We've hit a wall. That much is obvious. When people who have some authority over our lives ask us how we've been surviving, I have to tap dance around the question and give them vague, evasive answers as to how we've been keeping body and soul together with no reported income or no verifiable employment. I don't make the system. All I can do is live under it. And it is not my fault that the system forces you to game it in order to even nominally survive.
And I make no apologies for insisting on living like a human being. I only apologize to those who've been appealed to both publicly and privately for far too many times these past several years. I've even been banned from more than one blog because of my appeals for help. I can't stress enough how very difficult it is to have to start over again at age 50 in the worst depression and job market this country's seen since the 1930's. Perhaps those of you who've been gainfully employed for years, as I was between 2003 and 2009, don't fully appreciate the statistics simply because you've yet to become one of them.
With steady, gainful employment, there's all too often a disconnect that renders an impossibility to understand how hard it is to even get an interview much an actual job that can keep body and soul together. Three years ago, before things really got bad, I was coming up against locked front doors and being headed off at loading docks by suspicious people who'd archly tell me they weren't hiring, to come back in a few months.
Things have hardly improved under Obama. At some point, when your very life or at least the quality of it is seriously threatened and could end in a matter of weeks, your attention quickly turns provincial and parochial, even Randian in a way.
Had I known things would be this horrible down the road, I never, ever would've invited Mrs. JP to live with Popeye and me. I never would've subjected her to the stress that takes its toll on her health daily so that she's now on more over-the-counter pharmaceuticals that I can count or reasonably afford. Since we have no health coverage and I have no medical training aside from living with a nurse for 15 years, I rack my brains on a daily basis to relieve the pain and stress that's become a part of her life. And the stress and pressure of keeping money flowing into this household and handling our dwindling finances is taking a toll on me.
I'll admit it: Not having a job for 3 1/2 years destroys your self-esteem and I can't reasonably expect anyone who'd been employed for years on end to understand how virtually impossible it is for me to even get out of bed some mornings knowing I have another day of failure and being ignored by prospective employers and temp agencies to look forward to. It's one thing to tell someone to never give up but after three and a half years, the pep talks get as thin and hollow as my constant appeals for donations. What the easy optimism promises and what the actual reality is are invariably two different things.
But giving up on trying to improve one's lot in life is the only true failure and that alone is what keeps me going. Mrs. JP has a serious shoulder injury that guarantees she can't find meaningful work, at least in her chosen profession. So everything is on my shoulders. Housework, paying the bills, doing the shopping, the cooking, dealing with bureaucrats and temp agencies and I'm not ashamed to admit that sometimes I feel like slathering my head with steak sauce and sticking it in a lion's mouth.
But at the bottom of everything, I insist on my girlfriend and I living like human beings and doing whatever I have to do within legal means to keep the lights and gas on, the phone working and a roof over our heads. But, honestly, we have no idea where we're going to be living after this Halloween. We have no idea where we'll be spending Thanksgiving. Moving to Florida, even if we had the money, is out. Without an address, we'll lose our small public assistance.
I just got off the phone with a temp agency offering a 3-6 month-long temp placement with a company and now begins the endless dance leading up to an interview. This may turn into a paycheck for me, it may not. So, for the time being, we are in desperate straits and need several hundred dollars just to help us meet our bills for another month. So anything you could do to keep Mr. Potter from knocking down our door with his wheelchair will be immensely appreciated.