Friday, May 18, 2012
This weekend's challenge: Compose something of between 33 and 333 about the photo shown below.
The word "underemployed" entered his vernacular in 2010. Until then he was a stringer for a major metropolitan daily. The work was regular, the pay was good. So what if he didn't have a contract or benefits? A week didn't go by without an assignment or two – or even three, if there was a hotly-contested election or juicy, headline-grabbing trial monopolizing the staff reporters' time. He was fine. He could afford his own healthcare and IRA.
Then the Recession collided with the ongoing decline in newspaper readership and his career was collateral damage.
Now, instead of writing copy, he uses his computer skills as a secretary – no, make that "administrative assistant" – at the local junior high for $7.25/hour. He likes it more than he thought he would. He no longer faces crushing deadlines or gruesome crime scenes. Many of the teachers and some of the moms who brighten his office are attractive and available. Best of all, his workday is dependably over at 3:00, leaving late afternoons open for interviews in his chosen field. (If only he had any.)
But there’s a big dark cloud looming on his horizon and it’s financial. So he’s doing something he never dreamed he would: Participating in a rummage sale. He emptied his closets and cabinets of everything he believes he can do without and is bringing it to the Patrick Henry Middle School Auditorium. Here he’ll sit at his assigned card table and sell what stuff he can, with 25% of the proceeds going to the fund earmarked for new library books.
Entering the school service entrance that early Saturday morn, he chastises himself for wearing shorts. How often has he heard teachers and students alike complain about how cold the auditorium always is? He smiles. It wasn’t that long ago that he had coworkers who complained about the stench of standing downwind when a drowning fatality washed ashore, but that feels like another lifetime.