Chronic Unemployment: the Case For.

I did the weirdest darned thing tonight. I worked.

It happens. Not often. But very occasionally my friends who own the Weathervane Music Hall pay me $25 to wash glasses when the bar closes after an exceptionally busy night.

‘Seeing ya’ll cold lazily cocktail-drink kick it while I do your work fills my heart with joy.” I told them. “This makes me happy!”

Weathervane bartenders hate to wash glasses after a busy night. But I was pleased as punch to. Did it cheerfully!

And did one smash of a job I might add: evidenced by the most recent comment — left by the boss lady herself — on my mySpace page.

I’m really not so spectacular a dishwasher. But she was desperate for one. And really I wasn’t so giddy about it. But I am desperate for money.

Speaking relatively, then — it was way frikkin awesome!!

In a small town like this finding work is purely an inside job. No one hires some jerk of the street to schlep for nickles & scuffle for a dime. Jobs here are got by personal invitation – either from the boss or a worker who is your friend.

I am eager to work. I do have a few stipulations. It must be freelance. It must. It is in my blood to freelance for money. Beyond that I’m flexible. I’ll do about anything. As long as it is not permanent I am not picky.

And I am as local as they come around here. People like me. I know employees. A few bosses even. My grueling need for cash is no secret. But work is never – ever – offered to me.

Maybe you think I could find work if I really wanted it. Let me tell you a story. Once I walked into a restaurant where several friends worked. I asked who was washing the dishes that night. No one! So I grabbed an apron & put the swab to the suds & got my scrub on. No one asked me to. I just did. Because no one would hire me to work. So I jumped in and hired my damn self.

And the restaurant people went along with it! I was hired.

Only they didn’t want to pay me. They wanted me to wash dishes from 11PM to 4AM every Friday & Saturday. But not for money. So I worked an entire weekend for free.

“Well,” I thought to myself. “Of course they don’t want to pay – I’m Mike E!!”

I’m pretty sure people think there is something wrong with me.

There is. I am an incest survivor. You may not know why that matters. Can you take me at my word? Life for incest survivors is not easy. People kill themselves over this shit. All the time; for a reason.

Post Traumatic Stress. Happens to every rape victim. Especially the children. And suicide – like chronic homelessness – is one bell-clear symptom of a big old honker Post Traumatic Stress Injury.

I feel like I have no place in the human community. Do I? Shit I can’t tend to my own human needs.

Not here in Brattleboro. I’ve lived here 20 years. Yet I cannot earn the money I need to feed & shelter myself.

There is no place for me in my own damn community.

On the bright side:

It’s kind of like blind folk whose other senses sharpen to compensate for their lack of vision. Smoldering abject poverty has worked a wonder job on my imagination. I’ve become a fantastically wishful thinker. With unshakable faith in the potency of make believe.

These are the disco-bomb best things about being Mike E.

Plus on balance my adult life spent mostly jobless & homeless has provided me more energy for art. Just a little more than I would’ve had with some dumb job for the last 15 years.

I am in the terminal grip of a stress tizzy. It is very difficult to write under such stress. I can write better. I will. I want to. But this is not about how well I write. My blog is a tool I use to improve myself in my time of great peril & adversity.

If I didn’t write I’d want to die. When I write I want to live. Write to survive. Live or die.

They say every story has conflict. That’s mine.

Over time a job you hate fills the soul with pools of stagnant misery. Perhaps the soul knows it needs art to survive. But the job rewards with money. Covers what one basically needs to be human. Suppose I had these things.

Would I write anyway?

Sure. I’d write. For hope. Because I like how the keyboard makes my fingers move. Write to make words go. Love to make words go!

I say a lot of nonsensicle scribbles. No. I mean really. Like one I wrote way back at the beginning of my blog. It goes

Go GO! Go Mike E go go Go!!

Gonna get $200

e.z.

When I pass Go!

I call that a linguistic Digger. You wipe out sometimes when you write to make words go & go faster still. Hell I say a lot of stupid shit.

I’m a daredevil. What the hell?

My oracle is the reward to risk ratio. Think on this: Every year thousands of Americans die in their sleep. That’s right. Rest up! For what? You’ll never know. You died in your sleep & missed it.

No reward. Bad risk.

So what about that job? No thanks! People drown every day in those pools of stagnant long-term employment misery.

If I had a job I could still make words go. Yeah. But I want to take those words out for, like joy rides.

All the way out to the edge. To where you know it’s gonna get stranger. Where you can only go when words are your sole hope.

When you’re so poor that you haul out & steal yourself a rollercoaster. Because you can’t afford a car & sweet SHAZAM! You must have a fast way to blow town.

For fun mostly; that’s what happens when rollercoasters get left just kind of laying around.

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3 Responses to “Chronic Unemployment: the Case For.”


  1. 1 Bradford April 8, 2007 at 5:51 pm

    Mike E, this is your job. Your damn good at it too. Thanks for keeping us in touch with our inner outies.

  2. 2 Mike E April 8, 2007 at 7:17 pm

    Yes. This is my job. I thank you hugely for pointing that out dude (I eat compliments for breakfast when I’m short on food money)!

    See you in Baltimore dude.

  3. 3 citizen j April 11, 2007 at 1:00 am

    Publish or Perish!

    liguistic digger = A Master’s Thesis waiting to happen. Then you could get paid to blog, and your art will turn to shit, and you would be in step with the rest of the humans.

    So there’s that.


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