Day 1

I dropped Anoushka off at the bus stop and got myself a sausage, egg and cheese biscuit at McDonald’s.  It was combination #4.  Love McD’s breakfast menu.

The next stop was Mt Olive Public Library (MOPL) where I knew the coffee was not free but didn’t know where I could pay for it.  I was embarrassed when the receptionist thought I had asked “if” I had to pay when I had asked “how”.

It’s a nice, serene place.  The periodicals section is awash in sunlight.  I had forgotten how quiet a library could be. So much nicer than the cacophony of New York workers at the ex-office whining about their shabby, shoddy treatment at the hands of arrogant Floridans.

At 9 am, library opening hour, there were two of us exhaling frosty, wintry breath as we waited for the doors to open.  I greeted him and wondered if perhaps he shared the same circumstance as me.  Was he new to this life or is this the only routine he has had for the last several months?

I picked up The Star Ledger.  I don’t even remember the last time I had glanced at it.  I have been reading my papers online now, from a desk bathed in fluorescent light, surrounded by gray cubicle walls.

The last time I got newsprint on my hands, papers still had an extensive classified section for job hunters.  I didn’t find such a section.  Instead I saw several pages of a section called “Legal Advertising”.  Each ad was the sheriff’s office inviting bids starting as low as $400 on various real estate properties.  I didn’t want to dig deeper in order to get all my facts right because my fear was that these were all a result of foreclosures.  That thought is a scary one for an unemployed person responsible for a mortgage in a bankrupt state in a country on the verge of bankruptcy.

The Star Ledger had other news about our governor capping salaries, fighting the federal government about repaying $271 million on a half finished tunnel that will no longer be built and doing nothing about property taxes that don’t go away even if you lose your job, like income taxes do.  There is probably a frightening connection between these opinions expressed in the editorial section of paper and the aforementioned “Legal Advertising” section.  A connection that I am rather unwilling to explore on Day 1 of my state.

The USA Today looked cheerier.  It was colorful.  The growth rate of US population has slowed down.  The 2010 census shows that we are now a nation of 308 million people, a 9.7% growth rate, the slowest since The Great Depression.  Probably not a bad thing, all said and done, although it is sad to note that the population of Michigan actually declined; no jobs, no prospects in the glorious erstwhile automobile state.

The other story on the second page of the USA Today was of a hardworking couple who had lost their home where they spent many Christmases and were now living in a garage like space of their parents’ home.  This year their kids’ gifts were donations from charitable organizations.  They were happy, they had faith that this wouldn’t go on much longer.  They were good Christians and God wouldn’t let them down.

They have their faith, I have the words of my daughter that echo in my ears day and night, “These things don’t happen to us.”  She has grown up seeing that such things don’t happen to us.  We have navigated her life so far in a way that she didn’t sense any choppy waters.  I must preserve her innocence somehow, preserve the belief that these things don’t happen to us.  She is too young for the lesson that anything could happen to anyone, anytime and that the pillars she leans against can crumble too.  All lessons should arrive in due course, not prematurely.  For now, our magnetic north pole is more or less aligned with our geographical north pole and there can be no cataclysmic shifts.  Not for her, not now.

A phone call interrupts this reverie. It’s the hubby asking where I am.  When I tell him I am at the MOPL he says, “Oh no! You are one of those people now!”

I answer, “Yes indeed, I am…and loving every moment of it!”

I look around me now, the retirees are trickling in.  I wonder if I am in one of their special MOPL, sun-kissed spot.  I should probably head on out, go home, clean the closet, organize the kitchen, the books, de-clutter, settle down with some dreamy creamy hot chocolate and find a beautiful “Jobs R Us” site to explore…especially since the man sitting next to me has just started talking to himself.  I should grant him his privacy.

1 Comment

  1. Pragya, good start of a chronicle … look forward to reading more.


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