Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Homeless. Need work. Anything will do.

This sign was held by a middle aged man perched on the median where a traffic light hung at the entrance to Walmart in Morehead City, North Carolina.

Fit enough for labor, but with a kind enough face for business or sales; he appeared in good health. He had his backpack and a sign, written in black marker on a torn piece of cardboard.

The look of desperation in his eyes struck a chord as I passed.

My summer was interesting to say the least, and I was genuinely afraid that because of our somewhat impetuous decision making (what we saw as a leap of hope), our family could end up like this man.

We had decided to move to North Carolina's coast based on the overwhelming feeling of serenity the sea brings to our family.  Even impatient me relaxes with only the sound of the waves.  When a job opportunity presented itself, we decided to go for it.  The idea was a fresh start, oceans and opportunity.

But it seemed from the moment we arrived, we were like fish swimming against the current.  Nothing went like we had planned.  

The apartment we had lined up was scary.  Our mistake was not going to see it ourselves.  We had family scope it out for us.

LESSON LEARNED: "Nice" is a relative term.

We arrived late on a Wednesday night, and had to stay.  The house was small enough to fit in the downstairs of the apartment we had just moved from.  There was water damage everywhere.  There were no counters or cabinets in the kitchen, mouse droppings in the bedrooms, and the entire place looked like it was still under construction.  The backyard was soggy from the septic system, and the dryer was in a shed, outside on cinder blocks.  When we opened the door to see it, there was a two inch roach on the dryer.  Worst of all, the bathroom looked like a gas station bathroom in a bad horror movie; covered with rust, mildew and dead bugs.

We spent only one night.  Panicked, we took the next apartment we were able to find.

Work was hard for my partner to find, and I was having a difficult time reaching my new boss.  After two weeks of this, I finally met with my employer.

The deal had changed.  The position he promised me was (to put it nicely) a joke.  

LESSON LEARNED: If it sounds to good to be true, it usually is.

We searched, applied, followed up and did it all again, but the situation remained the same. 

When we saw the sign, we both knew what needed to be done.

After a week of last ditch efforts and late night debating, we swallowed our pride and moved back to Pennsylvania.  Wiser for our journey, if nothing else.

LESSON LEARNED: Our plans and Life's plans for us may not be the same.

To the poor man, on the median, begging for work, we were just another car passing him by.  But he reminded us that no matter how unsatisfied we are with our situation in life, someone has it worse.  

I wish I could have helped him that day, but we were in no position.  We had to sell our car for the money to get us back to PA.  We had no money for food or gas.  We borrowed from my parents to make it home safe.    

Now, we are living with my mother-in-law, searching for full-time work and both working side jobs.  
This is almost where we started our journey together nine years ago.  Only this time, we have a clear picture of what we want and where we are working towards.  

It's funny how life sometimes pushes the restart button we wish we had.

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