I have not been excited about becoming an adult. Akin to looking for friends, I was not eager to look for a job. In my teens, a sarcastic print in my grandmother’s fridge attached the desire to be an adult with getting a job, moving out, and paying my own bills. Weighted chuckles would accompany the inquires of this cryptic addition to the kitchen decor while adding to the meal being crafted. Their conversations I was hushed into silence around informed me that adulthood would arrive and working for someone would come despite all odds. I would have to accept that.

Unlike other relatives, I never looked at the idea of being paid to be around someone as a place to establish my self of identity or declare my self worth to my family, my culture and my community. Work was a requirement of any society I would want to partake in. As a result, I would approach the need of it with the same level of pleasure and diligence a need acquisition allotted. A job provided access to the resources that make up a life worth surviving. I did not think it would be fun to make money just to make money. Buying new things for me has never been a place that served to augment a backdrop to my heartfelt conversations. The profits of my first paying role went to purchasing my school clothes as opposed to augmenting my choices to fit in.

Continuing my time in high school, obtaining part-time employment was attached to having friends in the first place. Knowledge of employers willing to train employees in their teens- dually offering their places of business as practice ground and sacrifice to both the public, the teen, and their bottom line, having my mother reluctant to even sign the work permit made the joy in job acquisition hit an as need peak before it became a gradual love of mine. I never hoped to make friends while working for an allowance. I wanted the opportunity to not have to ask a beleaguered adult stretching their budget to augment their budget for a teen’s entertainment. With the hunt for friends a bust, I looked into other options- my library.

At least, that is how it began.

Graduation looming, I did not yearn to leave the comfort of my own cleaning practices for the greenwashing of the Armed Forces. I chose to leave my city on the back of student loan programs. To this day, I remain grateful for this choice. In most ways despite the eight dollars dusting the bottom of my bank account, I liken my expenses to educate myself worth it. While my choices of programs have yet to yield a tidy profit of material surpluses, I still have achieved mental goals and aspirations that no one asks me about. It would pain me to not share these experiences but I am informed of the day-to-day measures that fill the hours of the stably employed. Having never left a job without being shown the door, the retirement of my first manager in the professional non-profit world, I have spent more time in the world of the long-term unemployed.

I completed my undergraduate degree with a series of work-study roles showcasing I will show up for my paycheck. I held a position tending bar that indicates my customer service relations and money management is not at war with the need for someone else’s money without some effort or earning it properly. I secured a job in the service industry quickly and loathe the ethics of a fresh from school student being put on the dinner shift when a seasoned employee gets the morning ones. I am on nights from day one and want the night employees to have a safe time. It has been fifteen years since this incident and I still have amazement that this practice makes sense to the public. I took comfort in the ease of finding new work in this space as I had a replacement position as a barista in 48 hours.

For a moment, I felt the competition of my education obligations were the one and done obstacles between me and a full paying opportunity. I had one need- to enter the 9 to 5 work force, move out, find a hobby I liked, and may be a relationship would be a part of my passion. But for now, the money needs to be made. It took three weeks to find a place to teach overseas and six weeks to throw my long term relationship with teaching in jeopardy. By the time I returned to the States, I was temporarily employed again. For a newly minted college graduate, I had spent a month unemployed. It felt a lot longer at the time. But my degree secured a way out of my aunt’s place within six months of securing new employment.

It took 18 months to find a new job. I spent a week doing nothing between those jobs. I had two months of unemployment when I stepped into the world of homeownership. I like to say I enjoyed it. And someday, when the sting of how my father ensured I left it, I may. But the self imposed jail of a mortgage had its own benefits- no need to court extreme homelessness. For nearly nine years, I shuffled between working as a temp, a full time employed to a recipient of unemployment. I have four years where I my job was looking for a job in that location. I would like to have left that residence confident that my job security would come along. In the meantime, I would ensure my needs were adjustable while I can go sans health insurance. So I left.

I do not mind looking for work. In some ways, it is a gateway point to how societies are built and their ideas of what makes their corners of the world worth living. In the bid for a national income, I am in support of one. I am not looking for my government to keep me enjoying all the pleasures of a modern life but I would value living in a country where rock bottom was 600 square feet with a functional shower, toilet, clean running water, food access, heating, windows, wifi, cleaning supplies of the house and body.

Seriously. Right now, knowing I could go depressed and still have access to start self diagnosing or seeing myself out of my depression. It would be nice to know my country in its indifference would ensure I could be called upon to fight in some way or contribute to society by pick up the trash instead of being considered it.

I have spent 20 years actively seeking employment. I have compiled my skills acquired throughout my job hunt into a two page cheat sheet known as a resume. My places of employment total 20 give or take. I have paid my taxes on time annually. I have shuffled my debts to one source to limit my interest. I have a divine assignment to write several books. I have a guaranteed hobby for life. I just need to work for my basics. You would think for the amount of debt I have owned by the government, this would be the easy part.

Taking my words out to ‘lunch’.