A day in the life of a modern American

A day in the life of a modern American


My cell phone is vibrating and beeping me wide awake to start a new weekday. My teeth and gums ache a little every morning and this morning is no exception. I thought about trying one of thse teeth grinding guards that my girlfriend Jan told me about a few weeks ago but they are $25 and that is sadly not in my budget these days. Although things have been rough paying the bills and looking for a job. I have the strongest feeling that today is just going to be the day. Everything will fall into place and if that bright mid May morning sunshine wasn’t storming into my bedroom right now, I would still feel the same. I know things will workout and it is high time to get this day going.


The cell phone shows no text message from the girlfriend and no voicemail from a company. I guess it is too early for anyone to send me messages although I thought Jan would have at least replied last night or overnight. I wish things were better between us.

 Time to go online and check today’s job postings and to check my email. The computer turns on and I still have my internet and cell phone paid up until the end of the month, I better make the most of both of them while I still have them.


No jobs again are posted that have anything at all to do with an English degree. That can’t be much more frustrating. I sip my black coffee and check my email and find no message from Jan. Now I am a little worried. What happened to her? Her and I haven’t been that great since I graduated college last fall and started to look for work. Now, my savings is all but gone and she seems more frustrated than I am these days about where I am in life. I just know things will work out,


 I have spent the last 2 hours looking and applying for jobs. Some I am sure I am qualified to do and some I know I will work my ass off to do well.

THe third cup of coffee is beginning to anger my body. I wish I had some food in this apartment but all I seem to have in the kitchenette is an oven, coffee pot, can of instant coffee and a blinking flourscent light which I keep off as much as possible. My fridge hasn’t anything to offer for a good breakfast. I shower sahve, get dressed and, bring a suitcase filled with only my resume. Time to hit the streets.


What a sight! THe sun is literally blinding me at 9 o’clock in the morning! I almost can’t see the traffic from the sidewalk it is so bright. The delivery trucks are driving down the street and the postal trucks are beginning to join them. God how I envy those guys. They have been working while I have been looking. They are in the shade of their work cars and I am exposed under this almost punishing sunshine. This light is an omen. I am not usually this optimist but I am feeling it today.

 Last night, was another story. I felt an emptiness inside that comes from the feeling of helplessness. You might call it a sense of worthlessness. I hardly have said a word to Jan since I argued with her over a week ago about where I am in life and how I am doing all I can to change that. She hung up on me. I decided to give her time to cool off and we have texted since then but….all I can say that feeling of worthlessness has only worsened since that argument. I am positive the right attitude will change things. I just know it will.


I bought a banana and a newspaper at the local deli and sat for much of the last hour looking over the classifieds. It is hard to believe that with all of the internet job sites out there, that there are still companies that post listings in a newspaper. That is not to say that there are many jobs to look at but this one did catch my eye. Allied Chemical is looking for a self starter to help with the advertising end of their company. I can dash out a few spiffy lines that could make a reasonable housewife consider a hairspray. THe company is also only 15 minutes away by bus! That is damn convenient! I knew things would work out. I am heading over there now.


I am at allied chemical. it looks like your standard large red brick building sitting alone on route 22. I just got off the bus and I am standing feeling a little nervous and foolish in front the large lawn. The lawn is being cut by a Mexican man who looked to be having fun sitting and driving around that large lawnmower. He is earning some money today, God bless him. I only wish that was me.

I texted Jan while I was on the bus I said “I love you and I miss you a lot. I only wish you would say the same to me”

She didn’t reply but I just turned my cell phone off anyway. Time to go inside.

The lobby reciptionist buzzes me into the entrance of the building. The lobby is expansive and cool. A relaxing sancturary from that Kentucky Fried Chicken lamp like sunshine outside.

The receptionist looks like a cool and expansive type woman with blonde hair and thick red glasses. She seems content with her work. I can’t blame her. She looks to have downed a few dozen jelly doughnuts during her tenure at Allied. Maybe a few more than a few dozen jelly doughnuts. I can’t say I blame her.

 “Hello, I am looking for the human resources department”

“Yes, please sign in, it is down this hallway (pointing with longfingernails to her left). You will see the sign over the door on the left.”

“Thank you” I smile a toothless but sincere smile and head down the hall. Visions of being inside one of these rooms and brainstorming an ad campaign flowed through my mind.

The Human Resources office is mobbed with people. Suddenly I don’t feel so good. Could all of these people work here? Could all of these people be applying for the same job. I am assuming that the latter is true because we are all herded together like cattle on the opposite side of the brown wooden desk which isolates us from the cubicles behind it.

I soldier my way to the desk and speak to the seemingly overwhelmed African American woman sitting behind it.

 “Hello, I am here to apply for the job posted in the paper.”

“Hi, Yes can you wait here just a moment. I think 20 people are here for the same job”

“Thank you” again, another toothless smile. I don’t like the way my teeth look so I smile broadly with my mouth closed.

Around me, I am surrounded by people who look to come from all backgrounds and all of these people have the same look in their eyes that I have in mine. A look of optimistic desperation.


I have been sitting here for well over 2 hours and judging from the amount of people that are still here, it looks like I will have to come back tomorrow. I gave up on the chance of an interview so I turned my cell back on and read the rest of the paper.

I got no calls for jobs on the phone and no message from Jan. My stomach is feeling like it has that sickening pit in it again. That feeling of heartbreak. I know my hands are trembling and I am fighting yto hide my emotions.

I approach the woman behind the desk who looks more relaxed after she returned from lunch.

“Listen, can I just leave my resume and my name and number here?”

“Oh my God, you have all been waiting here all this time? Of course, please everyone, just leave your name, number and resumes with me and I will be sure to forward it along. You all should hear back from us in a couple of days.”

I did what she asked. So did a man who looked to be in his 40’s, another in his 50’s. A woman in her 20’s, another in her 40’s and there was me a man of 32, stuck. Still, need to keep it up.


 I am standing with a small group of people out in front of Allied Chemical waiting for the bus. While waiting, I broke down and tried calling Jan. I know she wasn’t going to be at her paralegal job today. No answer.

I texted her

“I said I am in love with you, why can’t you say the same to me. I have the right to a reply.”

She did reply

“I emailed you. I can’t talk now because I am not alone.”

I make of that what I will. I was starving before this message. Not anymore.

The bus is coming. Please bus take me back to my apartment as soon as possible.


Back in my apartment and Jan’s email sums up how I feel.

“I am sorry but I think we have had a misunderstanding here. I told you over a week ago that I needed someone who can give me a serious relationship. SOmeone who will give me a home and a family. The best answer you could give me is “I don’t know when I will be able to give you these things” That is what you said. I am 32 years old now and I can’t be with someone who has so much up in the air in his life. I thought my behavior since we talked made that clear to you I am sorry things didn’t work out, Jan”



That sunshine isn’t coming through my bedroom window anymore but I can see it raining down beyond the shadows. I didn’t get any other emails while I was gone but I did receive a letter from my landlord and a couple of calls from a collection agency. I don’t know how to pay for these things. I have a college degree. I don’t drink, don’t smoke, don’t mess around with drugs and yet I find myself looking at applying for welfare benefits and food stamps….things looked so good 8 hours ago.


 I gave up looking at job postings online about a half hour ago and am now watching television while eating a grilled cheese sandwich. At least grilled cheese is still a relatively cheap meal.

The news is on. The oil has stopped pouring into the Gulf and the rain is falling again on the flooded state of Tennessee. In the economic news, the unemployment rate rose to 9.9% and the President of the United States says that this is a good thing. THat last bite of cheese and bread was hard to swallow.


An empty night. Empty in every way imaginable. I lost Jan, can’t find a job or unpaid internships, and I am well behind on my bills. I went back online again to look for work and apply for welfare. Recent college grads don’t qualify for unemployment so we don’t get counted as the unemployed but we are here.

It seems like every night is ending like this. Tomorrow will be different though. I just no tomorrow will be something special. After today, things will change. I just know it.


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