06:18:51 am on
Saturday 20 Jul 2024

The Runner Stumbles
AJ Robinson

To anyone with a good knowledge of stage plays, that title might be familiar. It’s a play and it’s the appropriate as the title of this little story. I wrote it quite late at night on a Tuesday, which is the day I typically send my stories to Grubstreet.ca. Normally, I try and write them several days ahead, even write a couple of them, so I’m all set for as long as a month in advance.

Not these days.

Several months ago, I got a new job, a great job and I wrote about the fact the job meant I was no longer lazy. In the eyes of most republicans, the poor are lazy, that’s why they’re poor. If they’d just get off their lazy behinds, get out there and get a job, they wouldn’t be poor.

I was an engineer, until the company I worked for went out of business in the Great Recession. After that, I couldn’t find work for months, then years. I went through a plethora of odd jobs, even a stock boy on the graveyard shift at a discount store!

I worked as many as eight days in a row, for little money.

Finally, I settled into a part-time bartending position. I worked five, six or even seven days at a stretch. One time I even did eight days in a row.

Yet, I didn’t do so well in terms of income. The pay was low, the tips minimal and I had no benefits. We, my wife and I, stayed poor, which meant I was lazy, as far as the republicans were concerned.

Then I got the new job. It wasn’t full-time. It wasn’t even part-time.

No, it was only a temporary job, but it was as a CAD drafter at an engineering firm. I was back in my old occupation. The pay was great and the hours were actually shorter than as a bartender.

I had to wonder. Was I really less lazy than before? Actually, I had more leisure time; my wife and I went to visit friends and family; took the dog to the park more often and I got to spend more time writing. That also meant more income, as I was able to handle more writing projects.

More CAD work was possible, but didn't materialize.

As the saying goes, this too shall pass. There was the possibility that the CAD job would lead to more work, maybe not full-time, but at least a permanent part-time position. That was not to be.

The job ended. I was had to look for work, again. I had hopes I might land another CAD job, I applied to all manner of companies. Nothing materialized.

Reluctantly, sadly, I started to apply for bartending jobs. After a couple interviews, I landed a new job. As with so many before, it wasn’t full-time, it wasn’t even part-time, it was merely seasonal. Yet, what choice did I have?

A man must work. A man must to earn a living. A man has to pay the bills and stand on his own two feet.

Now, I work six days a week, minimum. The job entails long hours, no breaks, no air conditioning, it’s an outside job in Florida; I have to stand for the entire time. The pay is less than minimum wage and the tips are far less than twenty percent!

America flourishes on the backs of the working poor.

This means my wife and I are among the work poor. We take things one day at a time and pay only those bills we have the money for that day. Still, it makes me wonder. Am I lazy again?








Combining the gimlet-eye of Philip Roth with the precisive mind of Lionel Trilling, AJ Robinson writes about what goes bump in the mind, of 21st century adults. Raised in Boston, with summers on Martha's Vineyard, AJ now lives in Florida. Working, again, as an engineeer, after years out of the field due to 2009 recession and slow recovery, Robinson finds time to write. His liberal, note the small "l," sensibilities often lead to bouts of righteous indignation, well focused and true. His teen vampire adventure novel, "Vampire Vendetta," will publish in 2020. Robinson continues to write books, screenplays and teleplays and keeps hoping for that big break.

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