Friday, April 17, 2009

Survival in Lowell

Budget: &728.36

Getting lodging in Lowell was pretty easy. I met Jen, who was excited about my trip but didn't have her own place, and then met her friend Olivia who did, with her roommates Sarah and Bobby. It's been an easy life crashing with them.

Yesterday I went out to look for work, but there was none to be had. By 7 AM, Sonia, who seems to be the one who mostly deals with such workers here, came by and said "All right, boys, let's call it a day."

"At least you had a warm place to sleep," another guy who didn't get any work that day told me. "Mah b__ch wouldn' even let me in. Had to sleep out in the hallway. It was COLD out there."

"Why wouldn't she let you in?"

"Because," he said, making a drinking motion, "I'd been drinkin'. She don't like that. I don't get it myself. I'm going out every day, bustin' mah ass, sometimes for nothin', to pay the rent, and here she is tellin' me I can't come in."

I spent the rest of the day wandering around Lowell, whilstling libiamo from La Traviata and enjoying the weather. I'll post my impressions as soon as I can get the photos off the camera. Then I went back "home" to walk a dog with Sarah and just hang out, hoping I'd get work the next day (today).

No such luck. I got up at 4:30 again and headed over, and we just stood around in the cold. Sonia came by around 5:30, but left at 5:50 to drive one of us (out of about 10) to a job site. By 7:30, most guys had given up and left.

"What do you do once you leave?" I asked a guy.


"I can't believe some of the guys who just keep coming year after year," said Derek, another guy who was waiting. "It's so touch and go. And then you don't get work Friday, and your weekend's f___ed. No money."

Derek ran a business once, selling construction equipment. "It just folded a couple of years ago. We were had. Someone in Nigeria. We shipped off the merchandise, they sent a bad check."

I didn't start asking him about questionable business practices or how one bad check could crash the whole business. I just let him ask me about my story.

"Oh, that's cool, man. You'll show 'em we're not just helpless bums on welfare. We're honest folk who can work and take care of ourselves."

By 8:30, I was the only person left waiting for work, and Sonia came by and told me to give it up. I walked off for half an hour (the weather was getting really nice), then came back at 9 and hung out, making some phone calls. At 10 I gave up. Lowell is a horrible place to look for work. I'll try again Monday.

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