Struggle

She gets done with work at eight p.m.
The first thing on her mind is that her husband has to be to work by ten.
So she gets some food from work for herself, her husband, and her children,
and proceeds to hurry home.

She gets in the old Caravan and is happy when it starts.
Working at the Mickey D doesn't pay much but at least she has a job.
She gets to the apartments by nine o clock and hurries to get inside
so her husband can eat and be off to work.

When she opens the door to her apartment her children are yelling
"mama mama" in obvious pleasure to see her.
Her husband grabs the bag of food and quickly devours the hamburger and fries.
He gives his wife a kiss and hurries out the door.

He rushes outside and gets into the Caravan.
He notices that it's turning over kind of hard and is glad when it starts.
He makes it into work with just five minutes to spare.
He hurries to punch in and his day has begun.

He settles into work doing his job restocking shelves.
Being an over night stocker at the Mart pays ten dollars an hour.
It's really not enough so he's living beyond his means,
falling further and further behind just trying to support his family.

It wasn't always this way.
Just one year ago he had a good job at the factory making
twenty two dollars an hour.
They had a nice apartment in a good neighborhood and life
seemed so much easier.
But just about the time they were thinking about trading in
the old Caravan for a new one the word came down that the company
was going to close the plant and move production overseas.

He gets off work at seven in the morning.
He finds the Caravan very slow to start and thinks that it
might need a starter.
He gets home around seven forty five and finds his wife doing dishes
while his five year old daughter and two year old son play.

His wife stops doing dishes so that she may greet her young husband with a kiss.
She asks him how his day was and if he would like something to eat.
He decides to just grab a donut and a glass of milk before crawling into bed.

He crawls in bed by nine and is up again by one so that his wife
may be off to work.
He gives her a kiss goodbye and wishes her a good day.
After she leaves he puts his daughter in a stroller and prepares his son for a walk.
He plans on walking down to the nearest convenience store
and filling out an application.
He knows they need more money coming in or they'll never make it
through the coming winter.

After arriving at the store he picks up some eggs, milk,
and a box of mac and cheese.
He goes to the counter to pay for his purchases and asks
for an application to take home.
After arriving at home he lets his children play while filling out the application.
Around five o clock he prepares scrambled eggs and mac and cheese.
Around eight o clock he puts his children to bed and
waits for his wife to get home.

His wife gets home with the usual hamburger and fries
so that he may eat something before work.
As he is eating she informs him that the pig called her
this morning for an interview.
She tells him that she'd be making more per hour and working more hours,
and that she has spoken to her mother who would be willing to watch the kids
so that he can get more sleep.
He tells her that he picked up an application today
in order to bring in more money.

She does get hired at the pig making a buck and a half more an hour,
and working more hours per week.
He gets hired at the convenience store and
with his job at the mart is now working
sixty to seventy hours a week and still
not making as much as he used to at the factory.
After school started her mother only had to watch the little girl
during the week because the boy was in school.

Fifty years ago if the woman had to go out and get a job
the man would've felt ashamed of himself for being a poor provider.
The woman was free to stay at home, raise the kids,
and take care of the housekeeping.
Nowadays both parents are forced to work more hours
for less money just for the opportunity to survive.

Michael R. Roth

Archived 8/19/2015