I‘m officially employed, again. Good thing, too. Shit started looking little dark down here at the bottom. The power cord for my laptop got fried, and I was afraid I might have to go on a fast in order to afford to replace it. But no. Just in the nick of time I find myself slinging cellies, again.
So if you happen to live in the Baltimore metro area and you’re in the market for a new phone come check me out at the Go Wireless in Homewood, on St Paul St, a block from Johns Hopkins University.
Don’t roll your eyes at me. If you all clicked on a couple of those ads you’re ignoring, maybe I wouldn’t have to hustle my wares in my column. So I think I’m entitled to a little personal advertising here. While I’m at it, I might as well let you know that I’m the newest Vice President of the Maryland Writers Association, too. Things are looking up!
At least I’m working. A lot of folx still ain’t. About 26 million, as a matter of fact. About 2.5 million of them wont be receiving unemployment benefits by the end of this week. That’s because Congress, in its seemingly infinite stupidity, has been unable to pass an extension of the benefits that keep a lot of Americans off the soup kitchen lines.
And the problem’s only gonna get worse. Each week they delay will mean more benefits expiring will mean more angry Americans.
If this were 18th century France we’d be rioting in the streets and lopping off heads by now. Instead, we’re held hostage while our elected officials argue about deficits and laziness and basically tell us, “Let them eat cake.”
Well, as far as adding to the deficit, extending unemployment will add a tiny drip to the bucket we already owe; and believe me, it’s hard getting a job even when you’re inspired by a lack of benefits. I quit my last job on principal and had exhausted my benefits so I didn’t qualify for a check. It took me four+ months to find a new job. Thank goodness I am well loved.
The bottom line is, people are not using their unemployment benefits to avoid work. What adds up to 25% below the poverty line for a family of four is not enough to afford being lazy. It is enough to piss people off when they realize they’re not even getting that, anymore. You think the summer’s been pretty hot, already? August is liable to burn baby burn, and I’m not referring to offshore oil rigs.
Maybe that’s exactly what we need, though—a big ole fire lit under everyone’s ass. A reminder that when those who need the most feel real dissed, they try to take the ship down with them.
Now, I’m not advocating rioting. On the contrary, we should be able to have faith that our country can handle these situations before they get out of hand. HA! Most of us have long ago abandoned any idea that our government can get anything done before everything turns to shit.
So what, if anything, can be done? Well, you can figure out who your congressmen are, find out if they’re one of the holdouts keeping the extension stalled and tear whoever answers their phone a new asshole.
The delegation from my state, Maryland, is pretty liberal. They’re on it. But don’t assume that just becasue the posse that’s supposed to be representing you in DC are Democrats that they’re automatically voting for the extension. Plenty of Democrats are drinking the Republican koolaid.
And if you’re in a state represented by Republicans? Republicans!? Republicans should be ashamed of what they’ve done to the party of Lincoln. They might as well dig Abe out of his grave and spit in the hole in his head.
If you have Republicans from your state in congress you better make sure you tell all your friends to harrass the poor folx who answer their phones, too. And if you were careless enough to help vote them in, you should call them twice, for penance.
But I figure as many of you will call as will click on the ads you’re still ignoring. So get ready for a long, hot summer. Let’s just hope this time the rioters spare their own neighborhoods.
Fernando Quijano III is the former President of the Maryland Writers Association, Baltimore Chapter. His work has been featured in Welter, Smile Hon, You’re in Baltimore & the poetry anthology, Life in Me Like Grass on Fire. An excerpt from his unpublished novel, Forever, Lilith was included in the Apprentice House anthology Freshly Squeezed. He has been featured at the Baltimore Book Festival, Stoop Storytelling, & The Signal on WYPR, Baltimore's local NPR station. In his spare time, Fernando volunteers to lead workshops for Writing Outside the Fence, a program for the ex-offender community, as well as at the Brock Bridge Correctional Facility. Fernando was recently awarded a B grant for his writing by the William G. Baker, Jr. Memorial Fund.