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Terreson Profile
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Re: The Waffle House and America


Thread started on 14 Oct. '10. A year later and I feel there is nothing left, essentially, to say. Recently a reader has told me I should seek publication. He has in mind places such as The Atlantic Monthly. No sooner the suggestion made than I get the leaden feeling. If I despise corporate America, and the corporate-government complex okay with the conditions in which the working poor somehow muddle through, I as equally despise liberal democratic institutions, such as what can be found in the media, which insist on tidy packets of information all bundled up in spiffy paragraphs rendered safe for consumption. The late Joe Bageant wasn't just right, he was damn right. In so many ways liberals have betrayed the working class, now the working poor.

I am going to miss Terrie, my favorite short order cook. Miss her fluffy omelets, her hand on her hip, her earth round bottom, and her eyes that only go easy once she recognizes you as friendly. I am going to miss Monica, my favorite server. So often tired. So often wanting someone to listen to her just so she knows she is not crazy, that things are as bad as they seem to her.

One last thought. I get OWS. I get the labor union complaint. But in the back of my head there is Terrie, hand on her hip, left eye brow arched, and she saying, "Now what's that stuff got to do with me?"

Tere
Dec/3/2011, 8:54 pm Link to this post Send Email to Terreson   Send PM to Terreson
 
libramoon Profile
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I know someone like Terrie. I tell her that world changing events, new voices in the wind, exciting movements, of course are also about, swirling about, taking account of her, her place and part and intake. It all sounds like woo-woo. She wants an immediate return, or a personal, direct reward, or at least a sincere regret that she was not consulted before others claimed to speak for her.

I do get it. I don't have some clear, concrete present tied up in a glittery bow. I have yearnings, ideas, churned up hope and fond dreams. I have nothing she wants, while she has that concealed power to brighten my day with a smile and warm regard.

Perhaps I do have something of value to offer, which is also the value fueling these movements -- respect.
Dec/5/2011, 5:27 pm Link to this post Send Email to libramoon   Send PM to libramoon Blog
 
Terreson Profile
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Great note, Libra. Thank you.

Tere
Dec/5/2011, 8:08 pm Link to this post Send Email to Terreson   Send PM to Terreson
 
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Guess I can't resist. Stopped in at the Waffle House early last night for an omelet. Terrie was on shift. Omelet exquisite as always. I asked about Monica. Terrie said she had been transferred to another store. I asked if it was because of "him"? Terrie knew what I meant. She nodded, yes. "Him" is the night manager. Terrie said it was Monica's last chance to show she can "get along" with people. In other words, management wants to be rid of her, done in such a way they do not have to pay for unemployment insurance.

Tere
Dec/11/2011, 3:34 pm Link to this post Send Email to Terreson   Send PM to Terreson
 
Zakzzz5 Profile
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Terreson,
Funny how this conversation or a variant of it is going on in different places. There's a sense for many people that there really isn't a place to publish. The internet and self-publishing was suppose to change things, and I suppose it has for some. Kind of like those inner city rappers who sold CD's from the back of their cars, and ended up with media empires. Or John Grisham doing the same with his first book and going big time. Always exceptions. I don't think most of us have the flair for the commercial; many of us don't even write very good commercial material. Many do write "good" material, but not good commercial material. Through the years I've read excellent books by people I've never heard of or will ever hear of again. Maybe in a sense tht has always been the case. Certainly those books were printed in the early part of the 20th century, so that was way before the internet. Anyway, my friend said he was considering going commercial because he was tired of writing for himself. I don't know what brought it on. Actually I started writing this because I was wondering what else you could do with this wonderful series that you did of -- what would you call them -- vignettes? short stories? Maybe publish them online. Maybe send them out. But you have already registered your distaste with that. There is another step, which I suspect many of us are taking. That is, that many of us are secretly writing for some secret hearer, some "other soul" that is listening, reading what we write. What is this "other soul"? One could call it "hope" or posterity. You write it because mostly there is the "urge" to write, the urge to "create." Why does a painter paint, even when nobody is buying his paintings? Why did Van Gogh paint when nobody was buying his paintings? I think that since you are a quality writer you have to write quality, as did Van Gogh, simpy because you are impelled to write.

I suppose you could be satisfied with the series you did, I recall at least two series. The next step could be to morph the pieces into short novels, modifying the characters as need be, modifying the circumstances to fit your needs, having fun with it. Maybe/maybe not. It's just a thought. You know you'll keep writing. Or maybe the cornucopia will unload a brand new bounty. Zak
Dec/19/2011, 7:44 pm Link to this post Send Email to Zakzzz5   Send PM to Zakzzz5
 
Terreson Profile
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Thanks, Zak. I keep thinking on the issues you point to. I know how I would want to package these Waffle House musings; done exactly as you've read them here. Diary like. Journal like. Field note like. That would strike me as authentic to the reportage as the reports got made. Frankly, I could proceed in the same fashion with my notes on jobbing and road tripping.

The poet, Charles Olson, citing Robert Creeley, said a huge thing. "Form is never more than an extension of content." Think on it. Olson was writing with poetry in mind. Extrapolating, the same could be said about all writing. I like the notion. When content dictates the form, form becomes organic.

I actually do have a fourth field note idea in mind.

Tere
Dec/20/2011, 7:55 pm Link to this post Send Email to Terreson   Send PM to Terreson
 
vkp Profile
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The Thanksgiving entry about G and his family is such a close-up snapshot of something real and deeply poignant, conveyed with breathtaking lucidity. I see what you see and feel what you feel -- partly because you give that to your reader, and partly because it is impossible to feel otherwise.
Feb/24/2012, 7:10 am Link to this post Send Email to vkp   Send PM to vkp Blog
 
Terreson Profile
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Thank you, vkp. Your comment made me go back and read the entry about Thanksgiving '10. I had forgotten. Maybe it is not as wanting as I had thought it to be. One thing is for sure. The yeoman class is on the run in America. Conservative Republicans sell them lies and liberal Democrats have pushed them aside for the sake of ideolgogies. All of which I personally believe in. But not at such an expense. I am convinced that without the yeoman class America has no future.

Tere
Feb/24/2012, 9:07 pm Link to this post Send Email to Terreson   Send PM to Terreson
 
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How beautifully you evoke these two women -- the cook and the server, strong women, loving mothers, fearless in the face of everything. I just read the Jan. 9,'11 post and the Rilke. The poem cuts right to the heart.
Feb/29/2012, 5:52 pm Link to this post Send Email to vkp   Send PM to vkp Blog
 
Terreson Profile
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You seem to be reading through the field note, vkp. Notion itself rather humbling. About the Rilke Panther poem. What was he thinking? Was he thinking about himself? My instinct says no but with nothing to back it up. Was he maybe thinking about civilization, viewing it as a cage in which animal instinct itself gets diminished for the sake of civilization? Possibly. Was he thinking how I was thinking when I put up the link, seeing this caged panther behind her counter, shorn of freedom of movement and fighting the narcotic of a view through the bars? Almost certainly not. But it's what I see in America's working poor. The cages, the bars, the narcotic, and the restlessness that never quite gets stamped out of certain individuals.

Tere

Feb/29/2012, 8:22 pm Link to this post Send Email to Terreson   Send PM to Terreson
 
vkp Profile
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Comment on Oct. 8, 2011 post about Julie and the La Quinta. There are plenty of reasons why a young girl might be foolish enough to follow an older man to a motel, aside from drug addiction. And aside from the ones who would do so simply to offer themselves to you in the hopes of getting more out of you. Apparently not Julie's intentions.

Too many of us do a terrible job teaching our daughters to value themselves, to cherish themselves as they should. The friend who abandonned her for a football game, Julie herself and her reluctance to finish her journey to her father -- who can explain such things? It is hearbreaking. The desperation of a young woman leading her to travel all that way, rely on the false promises of a pseudo friend, and then on the kindness of a stranger. It combines with a sense of self so fragile that she is able to cry for five hours running in a public place. I don't know whether to be in awe of her openness or to feel contempt for her lack of backbone. Even writing that, I feel guilty.

If I were this girl's mother, I'd think I had failed deeply to provide Julie with the wherewithal to sustain herself through the embattlement of what seems to be a hard life. She stands in sharp contrast to short order cook,Terri, and Terreson's favorite server, both so resilient and strong.

Julie is lucky the offer of one safe night came from such a good man.
Feb/29/2012, 8:51 pm Link to this post Send Email to vkp   Send PM to vkp Blog
 
Terreson Profile
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I've been thinking on your comment, vkp. It occurs to me there is always a rich story behind every at risk moment and maybe behind every response to an at risk person. Maybe the only problem arises when we try to make sense of a Julie. Then again, if I really think on it, most of the people I've mentioned here are at risk.

My story has a coda. I spent almost two hours today typing it up, posting to the board, then pressing an inadvertant key and losing the installment to cyberspace. I'll get it posted eventually.

Tere
Mar/11/2012, 11:53 pm Link to this post Send Email to Terreson   Send PM to Terreson
 
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Finally. The coda to my story. This will only make sense to readers who have followed my Waffle House tale from the beginning. Or, at least, who remember E. the janitor introduced early on.

Except for a Saturday night two weeks ago I've not stopped in at the Waffle House since at least last December, maybe before. Nor have I spent much attention to my theme and to the people who populate it. Things closer to home have kind of gotten in the way. Not to mention a girl who, for unfathomable reasons, has more or less charged her way into my life. Same girl who, two Saturdays ago, asked to be taken to the famous Waffle House of my thread. A small stroke, cancer, chemo treatments: small stuff that has effectively gotten in the way of the story. Saturday nights are no longer a ripe time for me to make a visit, go for a delicious omelet, engage my people. Come Saturday, especially following weeks of chemo and still almost working full, 40 hour weeks, the body is done in. But the body is done in almost every night of the week.

Cancer and chemo in the yeoman class. This kind of speaks to my theme too when I think about it. For the first time in my working life I have medical insurance. It is pretty good insurance too. But the bills have started coming in. Recently I got a bill covering five weeks of chemotherapy, about half the time the therapy covers. Cost in the neighborhood of $20,000. Or half what the total will be for the chemo alone. So far my cost: about 10%. When I first asked the urologist, this was back in early January, how much work time I would lose to treatment and surgery, he said in his Russian accent: "Months." I said: Doc, that ain't happening. If I don't work I don't have insurance. If I don't have insurance my cost is significantly more than 10%. What about this picture is there not to understand? The British have a saying about what it means to live on the installment plan. They call it living on the never never. They mean you never pay the debt off.

E. the janitor from where I work. I was about to get a visit from my girl friend. I knew I didn't have the energy to give my apartment a deep clean. Being a batchelor I also knew it needed one. Especially the bathroom and kitchen. So I contracted with E. He would do the deep cleaning and I would vacuum and dust as and where most needed, which was everywhere. E. worked 4 straight hours. Never stopped. Not once. Feeling a little self-conscious about having someone cleaning my house, I said several times how much I appreciated him. His only reply: Mr. T. we are doing both of us a favor.

So E. brought with him 5 or 6 notebooks. The bound journal kind in which to record one's thoughts. He wanted me to read them. After maybe 3 hours I had to sit down. Energy depleted. I read his books. E. is an alcoholic and he is trying to figure himself out. His habit is to go to the library, go online, research information. Now, the search involves personality disorders. The exercise involves copying out, word by word, what he reads. His writing hand is deliberate, solid, in square blocks, exacting. He highlights passages that strike him as important. He tells me his first impetus, to figure himself out, has led to an interest in psychological theory in general. He might have presented me with 8 journal books. But at least 5. All filled in that deliberate hand of his. E. the janitor and sometime yardman. E. who generally gets 75 cents above minimum wage, or $8 an hour. E. the scholastic. E. the thinker. E. whose curiousity marks him as an instinctive intellectual. E. who sleeps on his sister's couch, pays her $50 a week for it, sometimes sleeps at the Salvation Army but only for the allowable stretch of 14 consecutive nights, stores all of his possessions in a storage unit provided by the Salvation Army. Keeps his money there too. E. the thinker.

I paid E. well. His gratitude embarrassed me. I also chatted him up at work and got at least one other person to give him work. She was blown away by how much work he accomplished for her. But she also did a thing that kind of pissed me off. She needed to be sure that employing him would not amount to a conflict of interest involving the company who contracts him to clean where we work. Let me be clear. E. works through a temporary service outfit who contracts out to a cleaning company that contracts with our work sight. This means 2 companies make money off of E.'s work. E., being the naive that he is, stands honest with the 2 companies, tells them what he is doing. I get a call from both, assuring me it is okay. But it might not have been okay. Both companies could have exercised a serfdom right over his labor.

Remind me again, lest I forget, how much I despise the middle-class and professionals who just don't get how labor laws are designed to keep down people like E. To insure he lives forever on the never never.

This is my last Waffle House post. There is more story to tell. The problem lately occurs to me there is no one educated enough to know how to read to listen to the E.s, the Monicas, the Terries. Bageant said it best. For the literary minded in America, the working poor are kind of like exotic animals they might chance upon in a zoo. Metaphor works for me. The working poor are captives in a zoo. Spleen is what my audience leaves me with.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3bo9U8G4BCU&feature=relmfu

Tere

Last edited by Terreson, Apr/1/2012, 1:24 am
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Christine98 Profile
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Re: The Waffle House and America


I'm sorry to see this end and very glad you recreated the lost coda. If the loss had been permanent, what we'd all have missed.

Thanks for these field notes, Tere.

Chris
Apr/1/2012, 8:05 am Link to this post Send Email to Christine98   Send PM to Christine98
 
vkp Profile
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It is Sunday morning. I sit in my living room, surrounded by things. I love them – but they are things. I feel ashamed. A thousand books. Almost, it seems, that many photographs, framed and full of evidence of a privileged life. A vacation at the beach, my daughter astride a horse, my son playing his guitar, friends, parties, fishing trips and family reunions. I am alone in the house now that my children are grown. Two of three bedrooms sit unused. A freezer in the basement contains food that will not be eaten until my daughter comes home from college. I sit here, a cup of organic, free trade, decaf coffee by my side. Do I feel noble when I buy organic free trade coffee? Do I do it to make a statement? I hope I am not that shallow. And so I go on Facebook and am sure to sign every petition demanding action from our legislators to protect the poor, the disenfranchised, women’s reproductive rights, the people I never see. Wow. Good thing I can take time every day to go online, on a computer I own and do not have to use on borrowed time at the library, to tell other people what to do to fix things.

It is embarrassing, after reading the last Waffle House post. I realize Terreson is right about his audience. I cannot ever really understand the Es of the world. My mother was mentally ill and homeless for years, a fact that haunted me relentlessly. Even so, I feel that gives me no special insights. I want to understand. I would like to be able to use my capacity for empathy to know what E knows or see the world as only he, or my mother, and the other invisibles, can see it. If I could, maybe I’d take an action greater than a mouse click. But in the end, I am the child of privilege. The house I deem small and simple is a mansion. The life I imagine is simple and honest, is extravagant and full of frills. I understand your spleen, Tere.
Apr/1/2012, 8:45 am Link to this post Send Email to vkp   Send PM to vkp Blog
 
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Thank you, Chris. I'm glad if the tale worked for you.

vkp, your honest comments bring to memory a book I read in my early twenties. I should have mentioned it before now. It is one of those minor, hidden classics of American literature and should be required reading for all college freshmen, for all human beings for that matter. Let Us Now Praise Famous Men by James Agee and with photographs by Walker Evans. In the years of the Great Depression, and working for the Federal Writers Project, Agee and Evans were sent on assignment to do a story on the sharecropper poor of Alabama. They followed and detailed the lives of two white families and one black family. All stuck in the sharecropping system that then was the mainstay of agriculture in the South. I'll assume my readers know the story of these people. Once again a tale with no end, no opening of opportunity, another tale of living on the never never.

Agee was a cultured man, a Southerner from Knoxville TN, son of the middle class, educated at either Harvard or Oxford. A man of culture and a major American writer. So he tells his story involving the three families. A story of working poverty at its most serf like. Evans's pictures take you inside the homes, shacks wall papered in newspaper. And Agee describes the sharecropping system in clinical, neutral tones, along with following the families from sun up to sundown, from Sunday to Saturday, from planting to harvest time when the sharecroppers get paid, then pay off to the land owner owned general store. The way I figure it not much has changed since then. Except that maybe a "sharecropping" kind of system has simply become more sophisticated. And many tiered. From landlord to banker to factory owner to developer. All living off the working poor and an increasingly hard pressed middle class.

His title is ironic. Again, Agee was a cultured man. Let us now, here, in this shack, in this blisteringly hot cotton field, rice field, indigo field, let us now praise Shakespeare and Beethoven and Goethe and Emerson and...

I've received a letter from a reader of the thread telling me my spleen is unfairly directed. To which I respond: okay, I'm good with that. But nobody can tell me that the working poor, once a working class able to sustain itself and even own homes, hasn't been betrayed and by white liberals in America most damnably of all. In praise of famous men indeed. And culture and literature and art.

Tere
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Katlin Profile
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Hi Tere,

Still processing these latest posts. Not sure I'll ever be done processing them.

"The British have a saying about what it means to live on the installment plan. They call it living on the never never. They mean you never pay the debt off."

I had never heard that saying before, but I won't forget it.

Thank you for posting this coda, Tere, and to you, Chris and vkp for your subsequent posts.
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Terreson Profile
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Cannot resist. Yesterday, Saturday, I employed E. again to help with deep cleaning in my apartment. I felt slightly guilty for doing so. But between the chemo drugs and the medicine for combating a blood clot in right leg I do not have much energy. Seems the drugs are messing with blood counts. Seems I'm anemic. White cell count down, red cell count down, platelets all screwed up. Still I manage to show up for work. So tell me, Mr. Superpacman, how it is the American yeoman class has lost that good old fashion work ethic.

E. worked for 3 hours yesterday. The job involved taking down my books, dusting them thoroughly, pulling out the book cases, dusting and vacuuming. Half the job is done now. Meaning there are more books and book cases to get to.

I had to leave early on to go to the store for more vacuum cleaner bags. My last one being full and stinky. When I got back to the apartment E. was drenched in sweat. I felt pretty shitty about that. Closed the windows and gave the man AC generated cool air. I kept trying to help him. He kept saying things like 'Mr. T., I got it.' I also felt bad about being so damn persnickety about my books. Probably E. was thinking how nice it would be if I had just gone away for a few hours.

But the point of my post has to do with E. the intellectual. A man with a drinking problem, sometime derelict, a minimum wage worker mostly, determined to keep on a steady course, as he put it, one small step away from living on the streets and sleeping in what used to be called a hobo jungle underneath the city's downtown, Mississippi River bridge, asking me if I've ever read Joseph Campbell. Then asking what I think of Freud and Carl Jung. One of my books catches his attention in particular. An encyclopedia on world mythologies. 'Is this all about myths, mr. T.?' And it occurred to me that E. is also a kind of bibliophile. That he loves books, knows what they open for a person, respects what they represent by what they contain. I need to ask him if he keeps books in his storage unit at the Salvation Army. Maybe I need to tell him about my mother, a natural intellectual just like him who also loved books and who had all of an eighth grade level formal education.

Another note. I somehow learned a couple of weeks ago that E. keeps his money in his storage unit. Not a good way to go. I took a chance, not wanting to insult him, brought the matter up, asked if he had a checking account, asked if wanted help in establishing one. This was last week sometime. I figured that, in fact, I had insulted him. A little diffidently he thanked me for reminding him he should do something with his money, said he only needed a couple of weeks to make enough to open an acccount. Well, I took a chance yesterday and brought it up again. He said the only help he needed was for me to get him to a bank. No problem I said. Then we talked about how he should get to a bank close to where he lives, within walking or bycicle distance. He said there was a bank close to his sister's apartment and we drove by it in route back to her apartment. Very close. Maybe ten minutes away. It occured to me that maybe he did want a little moral support walking into a monied man's sanctuary. Something I can certainly understand. Pretty much feel the same way every time I have to go to a f****ing bank. The last of what he said yesterday is that in another week he should have enough to establish an account. I'll make a date with him sometime this week.

What was it Langston Hughes famously said? I wonder as I wander? I do too. I don't get any system that does not look to its own first. But that is stupid of me, isn't it. The E's of the world are not the system's own. Nor are his children or his sisters.

When I pay E. it is always with a bad conscience. Yesterday he said he would have to work 8 hours to make what he made in 3. He kind of laughed, joked around and said, 'Mr. T., I think you're overcompensating me.' I got it. He is right.

Tere

Last edited by Terreson, Apr/8/2012, 12:37 pm
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Zakzzz5 Profile
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Terreson,

This site is really different from the Facebook site, isn't it. The FB site is interesting because you get to see faces, and it's sort of like wandering through an open market where you see pretty things, but you might see cruel things, and a lot of silly things. Here, at this site, our attention is a little more concentrated.

Glad to hear you're surviving, and that you are managing, struggling, to keep your job. I read your note earlier about the email from someone who said you are focusing on the wrong target. I'm not commenting on that, but drawing attention more to your sense of either outrage or futility at the unfairness of the world. I don't need to get into Red-Blue politics to feel what you feel. Oddly, for me, though, I'm feeling the same things, but more towards how we humans are treating the animals in this world, how we are destroying them. I hesitate to be dramatic about it, for fear of being melodramatic, actually. But not for fear about being melodramatica about the plight of animals (in your case, the working poor), but being melodramatic about my closing years, how I may only have a few years to do anything about it. You might be feeling the same thing. We may have twenty years of life left, or five, or forty -- it's hard to tell. So for some reason we both find ourselves focusing on something unfair in this world. To cut to the chase, I think we simply have to take small steps. Small steps to influence how the world moves -- in a small way, perhaps. Here I only speak for myself. Your speaking eloquently about your struggles to clean your apartment, or house, and to go to work, well, it can't help but influence the way the universe works in some small way. Maybe in a big way, who knows? I wrote two emails to two world wildlife funds, and made a contribution to the South Carolina wildlife fund today when I sent off my taxes. Well, Terreson, know that I read your latest message here, and I empathize deeply, though I really have not gotten into the politics of it. Zak

quote:

Terreson wrote:

Cannot resist. Yesterday, Saturday, I employed E. again to help with deep cleaning in my apartment. I felt slightly guilty for doing so. But between the chemo drugs and the medicine for combating a blood clot in right leg I do not have much energy. Seems the drugs are messing with blood counts. Seems I'm anemic. White cell count down, red cell count down, platelets all screwed up. Still I manage to show up for work. So tell me, Mr. Superpacman, how it is the American yeoman class has lost that good old fashion work ethic.

E. worked for 3 hours yesterday. The job involved taking down my books, dusting them thoroughly, pulling out the book cases, dusting and vacuuming. Half the job is done now. Meaning there are more books and book cases to get to.

I had to leave early on to go to the store for more vacuum cleaner bags. My last one being full and stinky. When I got back to the apartment E. was drenched in sweat. I felt pretty shitty about that. Closed the windows and gave the man AC generated cool air. I kept trying to help him. He kept saying things like 'Mr. T., I got it.' I also felt bad about being so damn persnickety about my books. Probably E. was thinking how nice it would be if I had just gone away for a few hours.

But the point of my post has to do with E. the intellectual. A man with a drinking problem, sometime derelict, a minimum wage worker mostly, determined to keep on a steady course, as he put it, one small step away from living on the streets and sleeping in what used to be called a hobo jungle underneath the city's downtown, Mississippi River bridge, asking me if I've ever read Joseph Campbell. Then asking what I think of Freud and Carl Jung. One of my books catches his attention in particular. An encyclopedia on world mythologies. 'Is this all about myths, mr. T.?' And it occurred to me that E. is also a kind of bibliophile. That he loves books, knows what they open for a person, respects what they represent by what they contain. I need to ask him if he keeps books in his storage unit at the Salvation Army. Maybe I need to tell him about my mother, a natural intellectual just like him who also loved books and who had all of an eighth grade level formal education.

Another note. I somehow learned a couple of weeks ago that E. keeps his money in his storage unit. Not a good way to go. I took a chance, not wanting to insult him, brought the matter up, asked if he had a checking account, asked if wanted help in establishing one. This was last week sometime. I figured that, in fact, I had insulted him. A little diffidently he thanked me for reminding him he should do something with his money, said he only needed a couple of weeks to make enough to open an acccount. Well, I took a chance yesterday and brought it up again. He said the only help he needed was for me to get him to a bank. No problem I said. Then we talked about how he should get to a bank close to where he lives, within walking or bycicle distance. He said there was a bank close to his sister's apartment and we drove by it in route back to her apartment. Very close. Maybe ten minutes away. It occured to me that maybe he did want a little moral support walking into a monied man's sanctuary. Something I can certainly understand. Pretty much feel the same way every time I have to go to a f****ing bank. The last of what he said yesterday is that in another week he should have enough to establish an account. I'll make a date with him sometime this week.

What was it Langston Hughes famously said? I wonder as I wander? I do too. I don't get any system that does not look to its own first. But that is stupid of me, isn't it. The E's of the world are not the system's own. Nor are his children or his sisters.

When I pay E. it is always with a bad conscience. Yesterday he said he would have to work 8 hours to make what he made in 3. He kind of laughed, joked around and said, 'Mr. T., I think you're overcompensating me.' I got it. He is right.

Tere



Apr/10/2012, 9:03 am Link to this post Send Email to Zakzzz5   Send PM to Zakzzz5
 
Katlin Profile
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Re: The Waffle House and America


"Domestic Workers United Writers’ Workshop"

http://www.poetryfoundation.org/harriet/2012/04/domestic-workers-united-writers-workshop/

Check out the short video at the end.
Apr/10/2012, 12:13 pm Link to this post Send Email to Katlin   Send PM to Katlin
 
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Hi Tere,

Coming back to this to wonder a little myself: Did E tell you anything about his interest in Campbell, Jung, Freud, world mythology? I woke up thinking about E this morning, about the way his paycheck gets cut because he has to subsize two employers before he gets his take. About how hard he must work 8 hours a day and about the way his salary is fraction of what some of the people he cleans up after make. I want E to make enough money that he can come home each night to a home, however humble it may be, where he can wander and wonder through books that call his name. And he should: he's already doing the work.
Apr/15/2012, 8:42 am Link to this post Send Email to Katlin   Send PM to Katlin
 
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So E. has become a real person for you, Kat. We've yet to talk about Campbell and the others. I have work for him in a week, next Saturday, when I'll have a little extra budget money. Maybe we can try then. I'm considering giving him my Larouse Encyclopedia of Mythology. I've had the book since the early 70s but I can live without it. How he held the big book in his hands when taking it down has kind of stuck with me.

It comes through for you how two companies benefit from his work. That is a hard one for me too. So after they take from the top E. gets a little over minimum wage. But I'm remembering something else.

A year or so ago E. applied for food stamps. He would fill out the form, take it to the government agency. Clerk sitting behind her desk would tell him he hadn't filled out the form correctly, hand it back to him, and he would leave to make his corrections, then return. This went on for at least two visits, maybe three. A month passed before he had finally got the exercise right. Why the bureaucrat didn't make the necessary corrections for him the first time, process his request, I don't know. Whether or not she was black like E. or a white woman I don't know either. Then the insult. She finally told him that were he homeless she could issue him stamps with a greater monthly value. Staying with a sister, paying rent to sleep on a couch, cost him. Again I wonder as I wander.

E told me last week he had weekend work out of town at someone's hunting and fishing camp. I tried a couple of times to get an adequate description of the camp. Then it occurred to me that the notion of having a camp, what is a kind of gettaway for many Louisianians, is something foreign enough for him he couldn't quite get the fit of it.

And yes. The people for whom he does janitorial and yard work make much more than he does. I do. And I know of one scientist who works him who makes just under $100,000 annually. In a sense, and in the pejorative latino meaning of the word, we are all coyotes benefiting from E's sweat equity. Makes no sense to me. Somehow it seems to make sense to E.

Tere
Apr/15/2012, 1:03 pm Link to this post Send Email to Terreson   Send PM to Terreson
 
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This whole thread is powerful, and it wants to be heard by people. It is such an incredible way in to the idea -- to make people like Eddie seem real to those who do not want to see. Perhaps people are afraid to think of the vastness of all the Eddies, all the souls deeply wronged by our society. Maybe they could read a tale of Eddie, and the beautiful women of the Waffle House, and begin to understand. And perhaps I am a naive optimist feeling the bitter abandonment of an entire population.
Apr/24/2012, 8:26 am Link to this post Send Email to vkp   Send PM to vkp Blog
 
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Maybe you are a naive optimist, vkp. Maybe I am too. Maybe I am stupid for thinking that if some of us shout loud enough an abandoned population, as you put it, will be brought back in. These days my disilusionment has less to do with conservatives and Wall St, more to do with my own party, what used to be known as the people's party. Put parenthetically, Reagan didn't betray E., or women, or children, or the working poor, or the homeless. Clinton did. Clinton and his ilk.

Tere
Apr/28/2012, 1:58 pm Link to this post Send Email to Terreson   Send PM to Terreson
 


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