By Josh Santos | firstname.lastname@example.org
Winter break is a time for students to relax from the hectic school year — to visit their families and work. But I wasn’t able to accomplish any of these this break and especially not the work part.
Instead, I spent this past Christmas in a home that was rotting from the inside out, 300 hundred miles away from my family, all while searching for a job to support myself.
My first mistake was assuming it would be easy.
Something kept telling me that if I tried hard enough and put on a happy face, I too would be employed. I went to interviews, sweating profusely, and got shot down while attempting to speak English words that I thought employers like hearing. After a while I got used to the silence coming from the phone.
Everyday was exactly the same. I would wake up in my black-mold-infested house, spend a good hour cleaning up the extravagantly large living space my roommates and I decided would be a good place to rent, then went out hoping something good would happen.
Nothing ever happened. When school was over I kept going to the library and locking myself in the same room, working on the same papers I had already turned in. After a week or so the library was getting ready to close for the holiday break. Not knowing what to do, I began to stock up on dry goods and canned food.
I had my library camping gear ready: a coffeemaker, a sleeping bag, a knife carved from a pencil (just in case things got ugly), and a mini screwdriver for screwing and unscrewing things.
Needless to say, my plan didn’t work and by the time I reached the library, they had tricked me and closed a few hours earlier than I had anticipated. I paced around town every single imaginable hour of the day, actively searching for a job I was not qualified for.
The responses I was receiving from Craigslist ads began to blur together. After a while I had no idea what I had even applied to do. One minute I was sending my resume in to be a dishwasher, next thing I knew I was applying to be a male escort.
One of the jobs I was interviewed for was my old boss’s father’s restaurant. While I did not get the job, I later found out that not even my old boss could get a job there. Times were rough.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the national unemployment rate has been steadily dropping–now hovering around 8.5 percent–but here in Florida it has just dropped to 9.9 percent.
With that being said, I am still flat broke, have no job, and am surviving on the essentials (of nothing). For a while my roommate and I started going to the homeless feedings, standing in line with everyone just as the sun was done illuminating the parking lot beside Trinity United Methodist Church on Bridge Street.
I still felt strange going out there to eat, and it was not the weird looking things in the rice or the fact that I had a rather expensive camera on me. It was the fact that these people go out there every day and for most of them, that is the only square meal they will have. At least, I am able to have pancakes sometimes, whether it is from scratch or refried in a wok doused in butter.
I am an over-privileged poor person from a broken Hispanic home that is still surviving below the poverty level. After all these years I thought I had it bad when, in fact, it was just preparing me to survive without means.
While I still feel bad that I do not have an actual “job,” it is not because I am lazy and not a hard worker. I just do better work on something I enjoy doing. So if that means being overqualified for a position in an industry that is slowly going downhill, well then I only have myself to blame.