Struggling to Live in America

Sometime after 1 a.m., I slept in my car. The reason is the lease on the apartment I resided in for the past year ended today. The keys to the apartment were turned in Friday as that was the last business day of the month for the leasing office. I spent a few brief hours Fri. night on a couch at a relative’s house after I got off of work. I was to return to this place last night, but I arrived too late. They were sleep and I could not get in.

I was late because after church, I went to a coffee place chatted long enough for the hours to easily get away from me. Anyway, when I showed up to the house around 10 p.m., I realized they were not going to wake up. After sitting on the front bench for 10 or 20 minutes in the cold, I decided to go to Wal-mart. I went in to Wal-mart and was already holding my water for a while. As I went into the restroom, I realized something. For all the times I had used the restroom at this Wal-mart, it seems that I had mistakenly used the women’s all this time. I never paid attention to the gender signs until this particular evening.

I was going to walk around the store for an hour or so as I thought about what I was going to do for the night. I found a bench in the store and just sat down. I never sat down in Wal-mart before, but it was late at night and I decided to lose all pretense and just sit, think, and make some notes on my tablet. A different sort of clientèle roams Wal-mart at night. I met a pair of entrepreneurs, saw a few club goers, and more interracial couples than I normally see during the day.

After a few more minutes of making notes on my tablet and thinking about things, I decided to get up. I didn’t really have even the sliver of an informal itinerary at that point, I just walked a round about path through the store that lead to the exit. I passed a few more people sitting on a bench by the exit. They had the look of preparing for festivities elsewhere that evening.

I kept walking until I crossed the street. I glanced Steak n’ Shake. They are open 24 hours and so I thought I would hobble along there. I went in and the place was packed. Apparently something was going on in town involving some kind of celebration with students. I was curious but not enough to inquire as I was pondering the logistics of getting some sleep.

I ate a small, $5 meal, talked with the wait staff for brief minute before deciding to leave 45 minutes past midnight. I made my way to my car and sat for a minute. I had already prepared the car for sleeping about two months ago as a contingency plan. I didn’t really think it would be necessary, but 6 years ago I experienced similar circumstances and developed the foresight to make any future occurrence more productive. Still, I’d rather avoid sleeping in the car.

I am actually taking up residence in a hotel in another city next week. I didn’t want to burn through cash on hotel lodgings this night as the rate would be much higher and eat into my long-term lodging budget. A tough decision. I am trying to delay my check in time to maximize my long-term lodging in the other city as money will be tight.

I then figured something out, went some place, sat for a minute or two with my eyes closed before deciding to climb into the back seat and sleep. I was parked next to a car that seemed like it had been there for a while. When I woke up an hour later, I was refreshed enough to function. I returned to the front of the car to transition into a sitting nap. The car next to me? That driver emerged from their back seat a few minutes later. As I watched him reshuffle some of his belongings, I saw an Iraq veteran’s GI backpack.

He was on my left. On my right was a vehicle with Army Airborne Ranger plates. What are the odds that 3 veterans would be in the same location, at the same time, doing the same thing? Sleeping in their car? Amazing coincidence. Anyway, I realized that the economy continues to wear poorly on some of us.

Some more than others. A variety of reasons exist for why people struggle in America. Some need help with chemical substances and they still need work while they deal with that. Others have issues with background. I have none of those issues. Ultra-clean background, zero chemical history, but my issue is financial debt actively asserted by third-parties. It all began for me when I was much younger. Some things just take a while to get through. Whatever problem people have, the structure of life in modern society means problems can develop trying to live to a better standard.

I wasn’t going to sit at a coffee-house at 5:30 in the morning and write about this. My plan today was to visit my relatives a few hours from now and let them know everything is okay before I move on for the week. The reason I decided to write about this is I finished reading about Over 1 million face loss of food aid over work requirements. As I read that article, I began to understand that there are a lot more people than I thought who are struggling in America.

Living in America isn’t easy. Having a place to stay seems ordinary until you have to work through either keeping it or getting it at a level where you can keep it. Keeping a place to stay is a barrier in some cases. A lot of people have basic problems with the legal requirements to even get a car. Failure to meet those requirements for a car also means many people are effectively barred from being full citizens of the United States despite having been born here.

In simpler language, the jobs are not really there for people. Yes, there are openings, but we tend to talk very pleasantly about jobs openings while ignoring the reality. The reality is that many people are fired from their jobs all the time, many people can’t hold a job because of personality conflicts. A large number of people could go out and look for a job, but they cannot get them or keep them because there are a lot of industrial labor and service jobs out there of the kind where people are brought in during a personnel surge only to be let go a few weeks or a few months later. Depending on the timing of when people are let go, they don’t have an anchor onto another opportunity. Straight talk about the nature of employment is missing from the clinical description of employment numbers.

Of course, it is not fair to focus just on the uneven nature of industrial labor and service jobs for a group of people. Those industries employ a lot of people and many do well, but given the size of the population, there are many who don’t do so well. White collar and upper level blue-collar positions got the same thing going on. The reality is that easy solutions are in short supply. Until there is a genuinely better employment situation across the board, even when it concerns people dealing with life problems, living in America for a large group of people will remain a struggle.


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