Imagine, if you will, being offered a life-saving favor, then being told after the fact it was never a favor at all. Specifically, imagine at the verge of unexpected, Great Recession-related impending homelessness, being offered your own, private room in the house of a friendly couple as a free place to stay while looking for a job to get back on your feet. Imagine gratefully taking that offer, giving up any ideas or hopes about how you thought your life was going to go in the near future, putting almost all of your possessions in storage, and moving in.
After moving in, imagine spending your time applying for dozens of jobs a week, networking with everyone you know about employment opportunities, cutting your bills to the bone, and going on food stamps to make sure you’re not a financial burden on your hosts. Imagine, also, receiving few to no responses to–eventually–hundreds of submitted resumes.
But at least you have that free roof over your head offered by supportive friends.
Now imagine, after moving in, being told that every month or so you’d have to leave your remaining possessions behind and vacate for several days to a week at a time while house guests slept in your “own, private room.”
Imagine after moving in, experiencing an apartment filled with the stress of a couple’s very unhappy, extremely dysfunctional relationship.
Imagine being criticized on a daily basis because Jewel won’t hire an overqualified, downsized, midlife professional as a stock boy–because there are already too many of them working there. Imagine being threatened with being thrown out over Thanksgiving for the same reason.
Imagine one of your hosts incessantly criticizing his partner to you. Imagine one of your hosts incessantly criticizing you to his partner. Imagine one of your hosts incessantly hitting on you.
Imagine one of your hosts, in reference to his co-workers, vehemently applying the word, “nigger,” several times a day, as matter-of-factly as if he were saying the word, “lunch.”
Imagine keeping your mouth shut about all of it, finally finding a new job and a new apartment, saying “thank you,” and moving out. Imagine after moving out, deciding that it would probably be better not to remain in contact with your hosts, for the sake of grace and for your own sanity.
And then…imagine that for three months after you said “thank you” and moved on, your former hosts decided to regularly spam your email account, your blog comments, your Facebook account, and your boyfriend’s Facebook account, cursing at you, calling you names, and trying to publicly embarrass you for deciding that misery really doesn’t love company. And then telling you that the least you could do is offer to pay them back for their free place to stay and hospitality.
If, after all of that, you can actually see yourself making an offer, you’ve got quite an imagination.
Michael Thaddeus Doyle
I'm a NYC-native, Latino, Jew-by-choice, hardcore WDW fan in Chicago with an Irish last name. I believe in social justice, big cities, and public transit. I do nonprofit development. I've written this blog since 2005. Believe in the world you want to live in.