Monday, March 30, 2009

Movin' Furniture

Budget: -$397.19

A past comment from Matthew Marchesi came back to haunt me today.

I walked back to the office in the afternoon and was given my work ticket, along with a pair of gloves.

I was also given vague directions to where I was going. They were so vague that I used my extra time to go to the library and get a map to figure out how to really get there. Then I set out, through miserable wind and rain, to walk what was supposed to be a couple of miles to the address.

Of course, I missed a turn, and then relied on my navigation skills—which are rather poor in the rain, when there's no sun and no stars—to follow some cross between a spiral and a zigzag to the address.

I got there first, so I started carrying TVs, couches and random marble slabs down the stairs and outside as instructed. Joe arrived a bit later and joined in. Even before he arrived, I was feeling light-headed, and wondering whether I had randomly developed some condition such that I could no longer handle physical exertion and would have to call off the trip.

But soon we'd carried everything down, the truck with the replacement stuff still hadn't arrived, and Joe asked for a drink of water. Thank God. I was normal. I asked for a drink of water too.

Two hours passed. Still no truck. Just Joe and me, hanging out. I'd started feeling hungry before I'd even arrived. I broke down and ate half of a granola bar I'd brought with me. I gave Joe the other half.

Finally, Dawn, the homeowner, told us she'd called the company and the truck wasn't coming for another 45 minutes. We went around the corner to a convenience store and I bought a loaf of bread and a jar of peanut butter. The store had tables and chairs, so I sat there and had a feast. I was in heaven.

Then Joe and I walked back out into the miserable rain, watched the truck arrive, unloaded it, and carried all the stuff up the stairs.

Moving couches is awful. Moving everything else is amazingly easy. (The gloves really help, by the way.) Too bad the truck took so long that the office was closed by the time we were done, so I won't get paid until next time I show up, which will probably be Wednesday. It'll be something like $30.

It's getting frustrating to watch my budget creep downward again. I wish at least one of my clients with a balance would finally cut me a check. Perhaps the ever-so-slow Commonwealth of Massachusetts? I've been waiting for its check for a LONG time.

Got Work

Budget: -$389.61

Last night, I asked Amanda if Somerville is safe at night. She told me she walks around at night all the time, "but the east side might be a little rougher."

I smiled. "That's where I'm going!"

And so I got up at 4:30 and went out for my two-mile walk through nighttime Somerville.

And Amanda had it exactly right. As I walked eastward, I ended up on a small street that dipped down

and went into an area with shuttered houses and random people standing on street corners. After about a mile of that, I came out into places familiar from Friday.

I was there well before 5:30, but the door was already unlocked and I was only third on the list. As more guys came in, I turned a chair to face them—especially Brian, the guy who was doing most of the talking—so that I wouldn't look aloof. But I didn't talk yet. I wanted to scope out the scene.

"Luis," said Brian. "This guy—the Iron Man. He'll lift a mountain off ya." Laughter. "Mikey—worthless, he'll just talk your ear off." More laughter.

Brian pointed to me. "New guy. Don't know anything about him. If I did, I wouldn't say it, he might take out a gun and shoot us all for all I know." More laughter. "You never know with new guys. I'm just glad that light-skinned guy ain't here no more. What was his name?"


"Yeah, Chris. He can't never come back here no more."

Another guy perked up. "Yeah, he had bitches flyin' all over the place!" I figured out that this meant he was constantly using the B word.

"Yeah," said Brian. "And motherf___ing n____r was LAZY. He'd show up, but he wouldn't do no work. He got kicked out of a shelter, you know that? Now THAT'S rock-bottom."

A few more guys jumped in about how worthless Chris—and his whole family—were.

"Comes in in the mornin' says he drank mouthwash by accident. Didn't realize it was mouthwash." I didn't even get that at first. Turned out he'd gotten into trouble for showing up drunk.

"Can't work with those kinds of people." one guy said. "Especially if they're watching your ladder or something. Ever worked with Jim? I'll be 25 feet up on a ladder, and he's supposed to be holdin' it, and I look down, and he's takin' a walkabout."

Eventually, Brian pointed at me again.

"This guy here, probably a cop."

"He don't look like no cop."

"He's undercover."

"He don't look like no undercover cop."

"He's DEEP undercover. So undercover he's become one of us." Laughter.

"What's your name, man?"

Now was the time to stop scoping out and become part of the scene. "Greg."

"I'm goin' out to smoke a joint," said Brian. Then he looked at me. "You want a puff?.....Nah, you's a cop." And he walked out for five minutes.

My story came out pretty quickly.

"That's.....different, man. You bringing a gun?"

"Nah," I said, "the laws in the different states are pain in the ass, not worth it."

Another guy cracked up. "You tell me it ain't worth it when you's campin' out in the middle'a'nowhere and someone comes over an' says Oh, you's got a fire goin'.....hey, nice watch you got there!" We all laughed.

"You watch out," said Brian. "You're not careful, your bike'll get stolen. I locked mine up once by the train station in Quincy. Took the seat off an' carried it with me. I come back, front tire's gone, screws are gone, anything they could take off. Right in front of the train station! Still had my back tire, since I put the lock through the back wheel."

Another guy jumped in. "Me an' my friend used to steal bikes all the time. I had some nice ones. Had some Treks, a few Specialized, a NICE Diamondback. Didn't do so well on hills, but good on flat ground."

I asked him all the details about how he stole bikes. He told me about what locks he could open and how. I have a much, much better idea now of how to lock up my bike to make it harder to steal. I still expect stuff stolen on this trip.

Guys started getting called to work, so the conversation died down. A man walked over, shook my hand, and introduced himself as Joe.

"You say you worked in Lynn last week?"


"I used to work there, years ago. How is it there now?"

"Not bad at all. When I came early, I got work."

"Good to hear," said Joe. "You know, I used to bike. Even all up around there."

More guys got called to work. I was #3 on the list, but new guys don't get called so readily. I'll need to get used to that, since I'll be the new guy pretty much all the time. A few other guys, including the one who stole bikes, got sick of waiting and left. Soon, Joe and I were offered work moving and assembling furniture. But that didn't start until the afternoon.

I called up Amanda, who works from home, and told her I was coming back for the morning. Joe gave me a ride back. Amanda gave me breakfast. Any anxiety I might have had about Somerville is gone.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Moved to Somerville

Budget: -389.61

Tonight I arrived in Somerville, where I'll be living for a few days. Spent the evening talking to my lovely hostess Amanda while she washed dishes and made my bed. She even gave me my first purple towel ever (to borrow).

Spent the evening talking about our lives and Victorian England, and suggested reading material to each other on Victorian England. Is the whole trip going to be this easy?

Now I have to set my alarm for 4:30, and hopefully I'll be working tomorrow.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Google Maps

I was thinking about taking maps with me, to keep track of where I was, where I'm going, where I've been. Turned out all the maps I'd need would be very expensive, and, more importantly, very bulky. They would also encourage me to find my way on my own, rather than interact with people. So I won't be taking them.

Instead, I'll be talking to people I meet, and checking Google Maps when I stop at libraries, and, with permission, people's houses. I'll also be keeping track of where I've been there. I'll be doing it in a simple, primitive way, because I won't have time to spend on making it fancy.

I've made a first attempt right now. It's not very interesting yet because I'm not on the road, but this is what it will look like.

View Larger Map

Friday, March 27, 2009


Budget: -$386.82

After an unsuccessful morning search for under-the-table work, I got off the train at Sullivan Square station

and caught a bus that let me out at a stop right near where I was going.

I found the building

and went inside.

The sign said the office was open from 5:30 AM until 6 PM. It was 11 AM; it was locked and there was no one inside. I decided to check out the electronics store next door (Electro Sales, as it says on the building).

I walked in and started checking out the various motors on the shelves. For about 30 seconds, at which point a man came out and asked if he could help me.

"I just came in looking for work and thought I'd take a look around."

He took a deep breath. "We.....discourage that."

"You.....discourage that?" I wondered what kind of business he was running. Then I thought about what I looked like, looking for day work, in my work clothes. For a second, I almost tried to tell him about majoring in astrophysics, about building electric motors in high school, about it being possible that I buy something if it's sufficiently interesting. Instead, I said nothing. After all, I really didn't plan to buy anything.

"You want a catalog?" he asked.

I figured since I didn't have any reading material, it couldn't hurt. "Sure."

He handed me a catalog, the cover of which included a computer fan of a type I remembered from when I was a teenager. I checked the date on the catalog. 1995.

I smiled and thanked him, went out, and sat down on the stairs with the catalog.

A while passed, and some guy walked in and made straight for the locked door. I thought maybe he was staff, but when he pulled on it and it didn't budge, he groaned and sank against the wall. His name was Eddie, and he needed work. We tried to see who could come up with a better story about where the staff had gone.

He asked about how I ended up looking for day work, and I told him the story. I asked about his, and he told me about how he used to just stop whenever he saw landscapers working and offer his assistance. "Suddenly, last summer, it got harder. I don't know why."

A couple of other guys showed up. "She's here, I saw her. She'll be here any minute."

Finally a woman came and opened the door. The two guys who came later had clearly been coming in for a long time, and knew the woman well. She chatted with them for a couple of minutes, then turned to me and said "Can I help you?"

I gave her my documents, zipped through the paperwork, and went to talk to her. It seemed like she knew the other guys, so I figured I shouldn't be a stranger either if I want to get work. Her name was Louie. I told her about how this last week I was doing day work in Lynn.

Another girl I hadn't noticed behind the counter perked up.

"Oh, he's from Lynn?"

"Day work in Lynn, huh?" said Louie. "You might know my sister Shante."

I hadn't even really started, and I had connections in Somerville. Perhaps, given that I'll be traveling relatively small distances (on the order of 100 or a few hundred miles) between cities where I work, perhaps such a phenomenon will not be so unusual.

"No vehicle?" asked Louie.


"And you came from Lynn?" She looked at the address on the forms I'd filled out. "Oh, you came from farther!"

"And I'll be going much farther," I said, and told them about my plan. From there, it was small talk from fixing a bike chain that has fallen off to why I have no accent if I came from Russia.

"Where'd that book come from?" asked Louie. "Is that yours?"

"They gave it to me next door while I was waiting."

"Really! I couldn't imagine him giving anyone anything but a catalog."

"It is a catalog. A 400-page catalog from 1995."

We both cracked up. Suddenly I was in a much better mood.

I asked Louie if there's any "nice" way to walk back to Sullivan Square. She sent me up a side street

and a boulevard.

Yeah, Somerville was going to be all right.

After walking down the boulevard for a while, the buildings turned to houses, then to lots, warehouses and junkyards. Then the street narrowed, went under a bridge

and again I heard metal clanging and saw smoking chimneys, and sure enough, there was Sullivan Square.

I got on a train and went to have lunch with my friend Michelle. Changing locations, in itself, is clearly nothing to stress about.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Moving On

Budget: -$375.18

I'm done with Lynn. I have too many friends and too many connections there now. It's not teaching me anything anymore. Unless I want to just do minimum wage work for no reason, it's time to move on.

Today was a white collar day again. Sort of. Met with a client for 15 minutes; took the rest of the day off. Made money comparable to a day of blue-collar work, but I won't see it for a month and a half or so. I've had a weird combination of white collar and blue collar life, or which I'm reminded every morning when I look down at the floor.

So I'm going to try to hit up Somerville, a totally different community in a different place. I'll start by seeing if I can go through the same work process. At the same time, I'll try to use my charm and wiles to get a place to sleep on someone's couch. I'll slowly adjust and figure out what I need to do. Some things that are obvious still come up as a thorn in my side.

Today I ran about six hours' worth of errands with my friend Brian, then went down to Boston with the intention of staying at my friend Khai's for the night and then going to Somerville to fill out forms. I neglected:

  • To dry my work clothes, which I had laundered
  • To bring anything warm to wear
  • To bring the documents necessary to get a legal, taxable job

The good news is that for legal, taxable jobs, you have to take, as I keep saying, a day to fill out forms. Thus tomorrow, I have no reason to appear in the work line early. So I'll plan to get up around 5:45 and, in clothes that will hopefully be at least half-dry, make my way up the coast, seeing if I can get an under-the-table job on the way. I'll grab my documents, turn around, and head back, continuing to try to get an under-the-table job. If that fails, I'll plan to appear in Somerville at noon to fill out forms.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The Laziest Sign-Holder Ever

Budget: -$312.18

Yesterday, before I got—or realized I'd get—work for the day, I accepted a ticket for work at the Office Depot today, holding a sign at an intersection. If this were to happen on the road, I'd go ahead with it, so I went ahead with it now. I figure also that if work turns out to be easy to get somewhere, and I have a relatively safe place to stay or pitch my tent, why not stick around for a few days and build myself more of a cushion? Inevitably, I think, there will be difficult stretches awaiting me, and I think it is best that once I'm on the road, I be flexible and willing to make extra money when it comes easily.

And so I caught a bus to Peabody and got off at the outskirts, by the dismantled Office Depot. The dismantling had actually been fun, but I wasn't looking forward to holding the sign. Just the thought made me depressed.

As I walked by the back entrance, I didn't even notice some workers throwing stuff into the dumpster until one of them yelled "There's my man!" I looked over. Every single face was familiar from yesterday.

"Oh, hey!" I said.

"Why aren't you working?"

"I will be. I'm holding a sign today."

"Holding a sign? Man, you lucked out! Getting a tan!"

"Yeah, I guess so.... Well, I'd better go get my sign."

"All right, man, see you later."

As I walked away, I heard them continue to talk.

"Whooo! Sign boy!"

"Damn, why don't we get to do that?"

Then I turned the corner and couldn't hear them anymore.

I got my sign, saying that Office Depot was selling its remaining merchandise at 60%-80% off, as well as the fixtures that had survived the dismantling. The guy called to check where I was to stand and told me how to get there.

"You have a car?"


".... It's a quarter mile or so from here."

"That's cool."

He gave me a look, then said "OK, thank you."

And I walked off with the sign.

When I got to the intersection, I very quickly realized that I REALLY didn't want to hold that sign. Three minutes in, it was clear that five hours of this would NOT be cool. There had to be a way out. And I already knew what it was.

I took the lace out of my boot.

Then I tied the sign to a traffic light in the middle of the intersection.

The traffic light and boot lace did no worse with the sign than I would have.

Then I sat down on the curb, took a journal I'd brought out of my pocket, and started reading a paper with the (relatively simple) details of how Bernard Madoff's scheme had worked. I also signed my phone on to AIM and chatted.

I moved on to a paper about the differences between India's elite and India's populance as far as attitudes toward Pakistan, Russia and the US. I imagined people in passing cars turning to each other and saying "That's the laziest sign holder I've ever seen."

I finished that paper and went on to an essay about Hollywood in 1980.

Occasionally, a passing car would honk and someone would flash me a thumbs-up, which I'd flash back.

The five hours passed pretty quickly, I untied the sign, relaced my boot, and walked back to the former Office Depot. No questions were asked, a woman just said "thank you" and signed my ticket. $40.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Quick Work: ConDestruction

The environment I'm working in is very hostile to picture-taking. Nearly all pictures are snuck while nobody is looking (or at least attempted to be done in that way). This affects their quality. I hope people understand.

Budget: -330.85

I almost didn't go get in line. A longer-than-expected client consultation pushed everything over yesterday, resulting in me getting home after midnight, and when the alarm rang at 4:30 AM, I almost just said "screw it, I'll go back to sleep."

But I got up and got dressed and went outside. The temperature was 18 F, and as I walked out to the ocean (nowhere to park in Lynn), the wind started becoming really unpleasant.

An SUV pulled past me and suddenly stopped. I was still in a nice area, so I wasn't too worried. He rolled down the window. "Where are you going?"


"Lynn? Damn. In this weather? Where in Lynn?"

I figured he looked harmless, and I was going to Lynn in the middle of the night. I told him the intersection.

"Get in, I'll drop you off nearby."

I went ahead and got in. He dropped me off by the highway offramp for downtown, I thanked him, and he pulled away and I looked up and realized where I was and at what time of night.

Because of the ride, I now had half an hour that I had to spend in nighttime Lynn before the doors even opened for me to stand in line for work. I found a parking garage, the only spot that had any sort of lighting, and killed 20 minutes or so there, constantly looking over my shoulder.

Around 5:20, I walked up to the doors of the building where I was to wait in line. I stood there, on the corner, all by myself in the darkness, until I saw a big man coming up. I tensed up and prepared to respond, but he just said hi and stood next to me.

"You always come before 5:30?" I asked.

He laughed out loud. "No."

We made some small talk. Some other guys showed up. There were seven of us when the doors opened, and they all stepped aside and let me walk in first and put my name in the number 1 spot on the list. No fistfights. You're at the door first, you're first in line.

I went to sit down and make myself comfortable when I spotted bread on the table.

I waited for a while and observed the table. People who had signed in came by, but they'd only get coffee. After a few, I went up to one of the guys and just asked directly.

"Are we allowed to take the bread?"

"Sure," he said, picking it up and looking at the label. "Good until......yesterday."

I hadn't eaten breakfast. "Good until yesterday is good enough for me," I said, and took a slice.

Nobody else did. Any bread that I didn't eat remained on the table, and I think this reflects an important point. These people aren't starving. They may be sitting in line all day to get a job, but they're not desperate.

I sat around for a while, reading about Afghan architecture, when suddenly I heard a loud "Hey, amigo!"

It was Marcos, a boxer I'd met when I was waiting in line last Thursday. ("I have a big match in May," he said, "but the committee didn't approve it. I really hope they go back and do. My girlfriend has to work two jobs, and I should be working too.")

I'd made enough friends waiting in line last Thursday that now I could feel relatively at home. My conversation with Marcos was interrupted with a "Hi, Greg," to which I had to respond, "Oh, hi, Bob." Bob grilled me about my life.

And then something unexpected happened. Bob called out to Shante (the official there) and said "Hey, Shante! This is Greg. Good worker. Number 1 on the list today. You keep that in mind."

Shante just said "Hi, Greg."

A little bit later, I noticed Marcos talking to Shante and pointing to me. "This guy's been coming in. Give him something to do."

LESSON: Networking is king, wherever you go. A day spent just being cool and friendly to people may be an extremely valuable and sensible way to spend one's time. Thursday, which I spent sitting in line and not getting any work, hardly went to waste.

Shante pretty quickly called me up to the counter and gave me a job for tomorrow, standing on the shoulder of Highway 114 for five hours, holding a sign. Oh well, I thought, not quite what I had pictured, but if I spent a day on the road that way and earned $40, that's food for a week at least.

"Don't leave yet," Shante added. "I might have something for you today, too."

I introduced myself to some new people, then went back to talk to Marcos.

"Definitely stay around," he said. "...oh, nice, a movie. GUYS! MOVIE! We're going to watch a movie. Then we're going to work."

A few people moved over to watch the movie.

We'd barely started when Shante called a bunch of us up. "I need ten guys for this job today."

Ten? I thought. Who needs ten guys to hold a sign? Then I actually read the work ticket I'd been handed. Specifically this part:

The car driving out there was already full of people, so I, along with another guy who was over 6 feet tall, prepared to get in the trunk.

The drive wasn't too rough, though I was definitely glad to be let out. We found ourselves in front of an Office Depot, into which we walked and looked around.

Then we were given tools (including but not limited to hydraulic lifters and sledgehammers) and told to dismantle the store. We were also given crates to put the debris into.

But first, obviously, the merchandise was removed and the mandatory "CAUTION" tape was put all over the place in case some unsuspecting wanderer ended up in the store and didn't realize what's going on.

I expected insanity—had everyone there been copies of me, that's exactly what would have ensued—but the dismantling started incredibly calmly.

I noticed that the supervisor gave no specific instructions, but different piles spontaneously developed for every type of beam, every type of shelf—everything. And everybody almost always knew where any given pile was. Only at a few exceptional moments did I hear "Where does this go?", and in those instances, the question was always directed to another worker, and never to the supervisor. Interesting how, far overriding a desire to go nuts, human beings have a taste for organization. (I suspect the vast majority of the stuff organized into piles later got thrown out.)

By lunch time, Office Depot looked like this:

I grabbed a $3 lunch at the supermarket next door.

I ate it sitting, along with several other guys, on office tables that Office Depot had failed to sell.

By 2:30 PM, Office Depot looked like this:

My muscles were starting to hurt from the hours of carrying big metal beams (I was glad to hear others complain of the same problem, not because misery likes company, but because it reminded me I was normal). Dust was everywhere, creating a whitish-gray mist that decreased visibility within the building. In the morning, I had been digging my face into my jacket to hide it from the cold; now I was down to a T-shirt and wishing I had more layers to take off.

When Office Depot looked like this

the supervisor said we could go home. He gave us our tickets, and when someone thanked him, he responded "Thank YOU! You guys did a great job." It was decidedly a warmer environment than I had expected to see.

I got a ride back to Lynn (in a seat, this time), and, when paid in cash, asked if I could have a check instead.

"You're the first person in three months to ask for a check," said the girl behind the counter.


NOTE: The change in my budget is mostly due to a client consultation, not to dismantling the Office Depot, which contributed about $70.

Sunday, March 22, 2009


Budget: -$708.10

Paid my taxes today. It was relatively painless. The estimates I paid throughout the year were very close, slightly underpaid the state and slightly overpaid the feds. So at some point, I'll be getting a check from the federal government, but I hope to be well on the road by then.

Perhaps this coming week I'll find a way to hack off some of the negative budget. It seems that even on the level of blue-collar day work, knowledge can play a greater role than one's willingness to work hard.

Friday, March 20, 2009

White Collar Day

Budget: -$671.10

Today, I did no experimentation, just went to see a couple of clients—hey, I need real money, even when experimenting. One I was with for about an hour; another was a "surprise cancellation," for which I charged a small fee. In a day of doing almost nothing (less than two hours of work all told), I'm willing to bet I made more money than pretty much anybody who showed up looking for a day job in Lynn.

Of course, this wouldn't work for many of them. I'm not going to actually see the check for that money for probably over a month, and I'd have very little work indeed if I needed to take regular breaks for jail. But I couldn't imagine sticking with the kind of work they do if I'm staying in one place.

I almost want to see if I could mentor someone there and send him to the library to find a skill to learn (beats sitting in line for the rest of the day when you arrive at 8 AM). Make him think creatively, figure out something people he knows could make use of and would pay for.

But of course, nobody would listen to me. And anyway, I need to stop trying to mentor other people and try to find a mentor for myself. If not for life in general, then for landing a day job while traveling.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Attempts at Quick Work: Take 2

Budget: -$671.10

Today I messed up, got burnt, and learned an invaluable lesson.

I was told yesterday to show up anytime from 5:30 AM to 10 AM. So when I found out it was going to rain (in fact, it actually didn't), I caught a ride into Lynn, arriving only at 7:30. It felt like it should be fine, because in Lynn, pretty much any time of day looks like very, very early morning.

No such luck. There were guys who had come in a good while earlier, and with the rate at which things were going as they waited, it didn't look like they were going to get to do anything today, either.

Lesson learnt. Next time, I will be there EARLY.

I put myself on the list just in case (quite far behind in line) and decided to see who else was there. The girl behind the counter, named Shante, was calling her boyfriend to wake him up to take her four-year-old son to school. (Since when do four-year-olds go to school?)

"I'm not trying to be a bitch," she said, "but McKye needs to be in school by 7 AM." It was almost 8. Someone finally picked up on the other end, so she had to switch to that conversation.

"Get your lazy ass out of bed! It's almost 8!"
"What do I know? What do you know! You need to get McKye to school right now."
"No, you need to wash his ass before his face."

"I can't ever keep a job," she later said. "No one takes care of McKye when I'm gone."


Eli came in around 8 and started asking Shante to let him cut the line.

"I used to work here. I was dependable. Worked every day."

"Why are you telling me this?" asked Shante. "As if I care."

The last day Eli had worked was January 26. Since then, he'd been in jail. He told me I looked familiar and that he could have sworn he'd seen me before. I told him he looked familiar too. He didn't.


Marco moved to Lynn from California a few months ago.

"It used to be OK, when I had a driver's license. I could get work twice a week. But then my, take a look." He pulls out his California license, which has an expiration date of 2-16-2009. "It expired. And I can't renew it because I owe child support."

Until he pays the child support, he can't get a new license. But he can't pay it, because without a license, he's found it next to impossible to get work.

"People will be behind me in line, but driving jobs will come up, and they'll get called, and I won't be. I've been coming in here every day for the last two weeks. Haven't worked once in that time. And rent is due next week."


At 9:40, Shante notices a man using a bathroom that was supposed to be locked. She has a fit.

"Who unlocked the bathroom, and how?"


"All right, I want everybody out. If there's work, I'll call you. Get out. Everyone."


I'm glad I didn't leave this experimentation for when I'm on the road. Next week I'll try to show up bright and early and see if there are fistfights for the first spots in line. And maybe I'll actually learn how to maneuver into a job.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Attempts at Quick Work: Take 1

Budget: -$680.10

The Atlantic coastline of northern Massachusetts consists mostly of attractive little towns stretching up toward New Hampshire and Maine.

Today, I headed for perhaps the most unattractive thing along that coast.

Lynn was a booming factory city in the 1920s. Now, all the factories in downtown Lynn are closed and although there are cars in the parking lots, the city doesn't have much going on.

I hit up a street right downtown

and the very first place I walked into said they might have work for me!1 Unfortunately, they had me spend two hours filling in forms, including W-4s (no getting away from taxes), and then told me to come back early tomorrow morning, and that they "might" have something for me to do.

They couldn't tell me what kind of work it would be or how much I'd be paid. This piqued my curiosity significantly. I will try to be there at 5:30 AM tomorrow on the dot and see what happens.

If this works, it will mean that getting a job instantly for the day might not always be realistic. The first day I'd just need to fill in forms. But if that's the only adjustment that needs to be made, that's very encouraging.

1Since the purpose here isn't to advertise or "call out" any particular company, I will not be mentioning company names.

P.S: People have expressed concern about my negative budget. Worry not. That's my budget for this trip. These one-day jobs are not currently how I make money; I have other sources of income. They pay my bills. Once I leave for this trip though, I will try to make it on just these jobs. After all, that's the experiment.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

I thought I'd grow out of it...

Budget: -$680.10

Yes, I decided to be a douche and go back and delete large parts of my first post.

I will be setting out to cross the US on a bike, stopping in the places I pass through and trying to work for a day or two to make the money to continue onward. Because I don't want it stolen, I don't want to take my nice bike. Instead, I want Old Rusty.

The problem is that my current budget is approximately -$700 (yeah, that's a minus sign)1. And I haven't paid taxes yet. That means I need to make over $700 before I even start buying camping equipment in case I'm totally homeless for a while, or the tools I'll need along the way to fix and tune up Old Rusty.

But hey, might as well start practicing now. It's not easy to get a job for one day. Tomorrow, I will try.

1As you can probably tell, I use an artificial zero.