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Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Microstory 863: Need to Know

I have never had very much money of my own. I’ve spent a lot of time unemployed, and looking for work. My parents have had to give me a lot more money than my siblings. They say it’s all evened out because of how much more their respective tuitions cost, but I have never really believed that. My mother told me that I can’t waste my days away either looking for work, or playing video games, because those gaps could reflect poorly on my character. She suggested I do start volunteering, because a lot of organizations are always in need of help, and I’m allowed to put that kind of work on my résumé. I started doing as I was told. Every time I’d lose a job, I’d get a new one right away; just one that didn’t pay anything. As much as I think it was helping, I never could find a permanent full-time paid position that was right for me, and my parents continued to have to send a supplemental allowance. I know now that it was ruining them. They never complained about it, though, and the only person angry at me was myself...and also my resentful siblings. They died in debt, and I could no longer afford to live in the apartment. I was unemployed yet again at the time, and was out of options. My brothers and sisters cut ties, and I was left to fend for myself, which I honestly believed I deserved. At my lowest, I was living on the streets, eating and sleeping at one of the shelters where I once worked, which was profoundly humiliating. A young woman I met there was still volunteering, and one day, she said they were shorthanded at a construction site. It seemed weird to build someone’s house when I was in need of one of my own, but she promised me some good meals, and a stipend. When I arrived the next day, I saw cameras and lighting equipment all over the place. There were trailers, and a woman walking around, barking orders about staging, acting more like a film director than a foreman. I asked whether we were building an actual house, or just a set piece, but none of the other workers appeared to know. The people I asked who definitely would know the truth refused to answer me. A camera operator followed me around during my work, asking me questions about who I was, and where I had come from. They were interviewing other volunteers as well, but it felt like I was getting the most attention. The project was finished within only a few days, apparently after having employed multiple shifts, day and night. When everything was done, they called me back to the site for the ceremony where they would hand the house off to the needy family, so that answered that question. I was standing in the audience, minding my own business, when I noticed one of my brothers standing on the other side of the walkway. I looked around, and discovered all of brothers and sisters. They looked just as terrible as I did: almost like they too were homeless. The cameras began to roll, and the host started talking. Suddenly, she introduced me and my siblings, and asked us to come up to the door and accept our new keys. The house was ours.

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